—Says DESOPADEC has been reduced to nothing but a picture in a frame
—Threatens to mobilize women against the Commission
One of the most vocal women groups in the Niger Delta region, the Delta Ijaw Women Initiative (DIWI), has called on the Delta State Governor, His Excellency, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa to immediately scrap the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, or else they will mobilize their members to shut it down.
The group made this call on Monday 25th September 2017 in a release signed by Hon. Ebimaye Bebenimibo and Comr. Ebi Adams, President and Spokesperson respectively and made available to newsmen in Warri.
According to the release, the call became inevitable as the group observed with dismay that the Commission from inception of the current administration has been reduced to nothing but a picture in a frame.
Adding context to their discourse, DIWI stated that the principal law establishing DESOPADEC was passed in August 2007 under Chief James Onanefe Ibori’s administration.
Continuing, the group stated that DESOPADEC was created to, among other functions, to secure 50% of the 13% Oil Derivation fund accruing to Delta State Government, and apply it in the 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.
As a result of the above, the group alleged that the Commission’s budget for 2013 and 2014 were N37 billion and N39 billion, respectively.
Going further, they stressed that the total accrual to Delta State arising from the 13% derivation funds effective May 2015 to November 2016 is well over N97.2b, of which N48.6b (as stipulated by law) is due to DESOPADEC.
To buttress their claims, the umbrella body of all the Ijaw women living in the riverine area insisted that since the establishment of the Commission, billions of naira has been allocated to it with nothing on ground to show for it as the oil producing communities still remain massively underdeveloped.
They said they were not oblivious of the Okowa led administration’s amendment of the Bill on DESOPADEC, to the Delta State House of Assembly, DSHA, aimed at restructuring the management of the Commission by scrapping the office of the Executive Chairman and have it replaced with the position of a Managing Director, who will be assisted by Executive Directors.
“While the state government is busy politicking with the Commission, the oil producing communities in the state are wallowing in abject poverty and are exposed daily to all sorts of contamination from oil and gas exploration.
The above scenario the group alleged is made worse as the Commission has not carried out any single standard project in the oil producing communities since the inception of this administration thereby forcing them to ask,“Where is the prosperity for all Deltans?”
The group, therefore, stated in clear terms that they will no longer fold their arms and watch this great injustice perpetrated against the oil producing communities especially the women in the creeks.
In their words, “we that dwell in the creeks are suffering tremendously. There are no healthcare facilities, no adequate power, no good schools, no roads, no bridges, etc. We put this to the governor and his associates, to come and live in the creeks for just one week and we bet he will not survive the experience.
DIWI therefore called on the Delta State Governor to ensure that the Commission is scrapped with immediate effect as it only exists as a name and not as an active agent of development.
“We are therefore calling on the Delta State Governor to ensure that the Commission is scrapped with immediate effect as it only exists in name and not as an active agent of development.
“We are also calling on the Delta State Governor to allocate the 13% Oil Derivation fund directly to the oil producing communities since the Commission has failed to live up to its expectation despite the massive funds it had received over the past ten (10) years”.
The group finally advised the Delta State Government to do the needful as failure to adhere to this demand may force them to mobilize their members for a mass protest that will have the Commission shut down.