Decay at DESOPADEC: A prophesy foretold by GbaramatuVoice
By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board
It is no longer in doubt that the Delta state Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) is presently in shambles ‘courtesy of illicit interference by Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the Executive Governor of Delta State. What is however newsy is that the current state of the commission, has not only vindicated but, confirms as true GbaramatuVoice earlier held argument that the state government is suffocating the Commission life by not allowing the management exercise statutory independence as enshrined in the DESOPADEC Act.
Recall that about five years ago, precisely in October 2017, GbaramatoVoice, with just two years experience at the newsstand, but favoured with highly dedicated journalist as staff members, published a well considered editorial comment titled DESOPADEC: A commission with ‘Issues’ and ‘concerns’. Find link: https://www.gbaramatuvoicenews.com/desopadec-a-commission-with-issues-and-concerns-editorial/
Among other concerns raised in that commentary, the newspaper observed that the Act establishing DESOPADEC, among other provisions stated that the commission must, secure 50% of the 13% Oil Derivation Fund accruing to Delta State government and the received sum, must be used for rehabilitation and development of oil-producing areas of the state as well as carry out other development projects as may be determined from time to time. In view of this provision, the newspaper went ahead to query why DESOPADEC has, to the surprise of stakeholders, become this clueless and a commission that only exists in the frames and expressly concluded that for DESOPADEC to efficiently perform its statutory responsibility, the foundational step that must be taken is that Governor Okowa should let go of his administration’s meddlesome on the day to day administration of the Commission.
Reacting to that report days after, GbaramatuVoice was roundly accused by some state government’s loyalists of not coming out with the desired information and over amplifying the situation to score a cheap political point.
However, five years after that attack, the current vibes/commentary of highhandedness, inefficiency and corruption coming from the Commission has not only collaborated our earlier position but qualifies it as a word made flesh and now dwells among us.
Just lately, one of the DESOPADEC major contractors in an interview with Gbaramatuvoice captured the situation this way: “Okowa seven years of DESOPADEC is zero. Since Okowa came on board, DESOPADEC is zero. Oil Producing communities are dying in silent. Contractors are being frustrated; many contractors are dead because of the frustration. Many contracts have been abandoned by contractors for lack of mobilization. I believe that with what is happening in DESOPADEC, the Commission is no longer in existence anymore, DESOPADEC is now politicized. Nobody has a voice in DESOPADEC. The Okowa government is not favourable to the oil producing communities. The state government is the problem of DESOPADEC. The House of Assembly members and governor share the contracts among themselves. The five ethnic nationalities cannot talk, they know what is happening but they cannot talk because they are afraid of the governor. Oil producing communities should wake up because DESOPADEC is no more in existence. The people who are appointed into the office are not doing the real work. DESOPADEC should be restructured immediately,” he concluded.
Now, even if government loyalists consider, and classify the above outburst as the ‘conversation of an angry man’, there is yet another independent reports coupled together by the Nation Newspaper showing that the contractor is not alone in this line of assertion.
The report said in parts: From findings, the contracts, which run into hundreds of millions, predated the current DESOPADEC board. During its protests, the forum of indigenous contractors accused the commission, led by its Managing Director, Bashorun Askia Ogieh, of “awarding contracts to themselves” through relations, friends and cronies; while refusing to pay the indigenous contractors for completed projects with raised certificates, some of which are over seven years. The indigenous contractors, some of whom have passed retirement age, noted that life has been hard for them and their families.
According to them, some members have died; some others are down with stroke and other life-threatening illnesses. Yet, all efforts to get the commission to pay them have yielded no results, they said.
That was not the only sad account captured by the report as it again collaborated another of our commentary on 13% derivation titled: Matters Arising From 13% Derivation (find link: https://www.gbaramatuvoicenews.com/matters-arising-from-the-13-derivation-fund-to-delta-state/).
The report added: Iit should be noted that Delta state is the highest recipient of the 13 percent oil derivation fund in 2021 and first half of 2022.
According to information released by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), oil-producing states in Nigeria received N377.93 billion as 13 percent oil derivation fund in the first half of 2022. Of the above amount, Delta state got N114.75 billion, about 30 per cent as its share from January to June 2022.
From this spiraling awareness, the Newspaper, even at the risk of repetition is tempted to ask:
1. If truly the quoted amount was received by the state within the period under review, how much did the state allocate to the Delta state Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC)?
2. If DESOPADEC is in possession of such an amount, why has the board failed to pay the indigenous contractors?
3. How come the Governor Okowa led administration still owes pensioners in the state in the face of this huge sum received?
4. Why is the state unable to subsidize education in its tertiary institutions where school fees have skyrocketed beyond the reach of students of poor parents?
5. Why is the state still in the habit of borrowing despite this quantum sum received?
6. How do we reconcile the fact that the state is in possession of the said sum, yet, the majority of towns and villages, particularly in the coastal areas cannot boast of passable internal roads?
7. Who is the real enemy of Delta state: Governor Okowa or Federal Governments?
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