By Gbaramatu Voice Editorial Board
The emergence of Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa as the Executive Governor of Delta state no doubt raised high hope for Deltans especially with the slogan of prosperity agenda.
DESOPADEC was set up in July, 2007, to execute a clear and critical mandate; to rehabilitate, rejuvenate and resuscitate the peoples and communities of the oil producing areas of Delta state. This mandate is stated unequivocally in Section 13 (i) of the enabling law which set up DESOPADEC and states that the Commission shall “receive and administer exclusively the fifty percent (50%) of the thirteen percent (13%) Oil Derivation Fund accruing to the Delta State Government for:
(a) The rehabilitation and development of Oil Producing Areas in the State, and
(b) Other development projects as may be determined from time to time by the Commission.
The law establishing the Commission in Section 14 empowers it to:
(ii) Enter into contract as may be necessary or expedient for the discharge of its functions and ensure the efficient performance of the functions of the Commission in accordance with government financial regulations;
(iii) Establish and maintain such number of departments as it may deem fit for the effective discharge of its functions;
(iv) Pay the staff of the Commission such remunerations and allowances as appropriate;
(v) Make rules and regulations for carrying out the functions of the Commission; and
(vi) Do other such things as are necessary and expedient for the efficient performance of the functions of the Commission.Following the passage of the Bill, it also makes it mandatory to set aside 50 percent of 13 percent derivation fund accruing to Delta state to form the financial backbone of the Commission.
But as beautiful as the ideas behind the establishment of the commission seems, DESOPADEC under previous administrations have been visibly making impacts on the lives of the oil producing communities and her people but the story in the Okowa led administration is not the same.
It is no longer a news that DESOPADEC under Okowa is gradually dying, workers no longer receives salaries promptly as there are one form of hiccup or the other, contractors are severely dealt with as no reasonable project have taken place in all the commission mandate areas since Okowa took over the mantle of leadership.
For the first time in the history of the commission that budget no longer makes meaning to its runnings, the 2016 budget was not implemented while it bleeds in silence yet the government still shameless go about preaching about prosperity. What is the true meaning of prosperity when Deltans are suffering?
What is the so much talked about prosperity when DESOPADEC as a commission charged with the responsibility of adding more value to the hitherto neglected oil bearers have been miserably reduced to this miserable point of misery.
DESOPADEC is as good as not being in existence, no new structures, no hope for the oil producing communities in the state, staffs are massively suffering and not because money is not being allocated to it but due to the government stance in hiding under the umbrella of recession.
With recession, the 13 percent derivation for oil producing States continue to come regularly as they are not tampered with by the Federal Government, what have Governor Okowa truly done with these resources in the last one year?
It is so gloomy to see how this noble commission is rapidly dying in a disdainful way in a broad daylight before the very eyes of Deltans. This is indeed a complete defilement of the Government’s prosperity mantra being peddled around, the stark reality remains a shocking one with massive sufferings highly dished out on the people with no link of prosperity.
We recommend that the government of Okowa should quickly have a rethink and put the state together by releasing funds due this crucial commission to function properly, treat DESOPADEC well so that prosperity itself will always judge your administration right.
Remember, elective offices are transient hence whatever we do while in office is an history waiting to be referenced at the appropriate time.