As the Federal Government is battling hard to curtail militancy in the Niger Delta, another round of crisis is again brewing in Delta State as a group, Delta Oil and Gas Stakeholders, threatens to resort to violence over the non-passage of the N28 billion budget of the state’s oil producing areas development commission (DESOPADEC).
The group warned that the refusal of both the state government and the House of Assembly to pass the budget, four months to the end of the year, is an invitation to anarchy.
According to a release issued and signed by the President of the group, Dr. Tagbiretse John, and External Affairs Officer, Obakpo Goodluck, it stated: “We believe that we must speak out now in view of the precarious security challenges in the Niger Delta region and the need to avoid giving violence-prone elements an opportunity to latch on to the present despondency to unleash further havoc on oil facilities and our communities because of the deliberate decimation of DESOPADEC by the powers that be in the state is an invitation to anarchy”.
It accused both the state government and lawmakers of deliberately denying the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) of 50 percent of the 13 percent derivation funds for the development of the oil-bearing communities in the state.
“We have watched with growing exasperation the languor and systematic rot that has currently crept in and overtaken the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) since the present administration took over in 2015.
“We can no longer sit down and do nothing while a colossal conspiracy to cripple the only hope of oil producing communities in the state is unraveling before our eyes”, the group noted..
It recalled that in the run-up to the governorship election in 2015, opponents of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, warned Deltans, particularly those from the oil bearing areas against supporting him over alleged clandestine plan by him to scrap DESOPADEC in favour of policies that would give him power to control the 13% derivation fund and favour his people in the allocation of infrastructure development projects in the state.
“This allegation was waved off as propaganda by the opposition party. Unfortunately those who supported Okowa can now see that the prophesy of doom is becoming a sad reality. The body language of the governor, who vehemently denied that he would scrap DESOPADEC, is now fervently supporting this. How else can one explain the deliberate and systematic grounding of DESOPADEC by this present administration in league with House of Assembly under Chief Monday Igbuya and other conniving appointees?
“True, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa reconstituted the board with some capable and efficient hands, but this has not brought the much-needed development to our impoverished oil producing communities. The board members have become like the myriad of other political appointments made by the governor – appointees with little power to do anything”, it added.