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Ibori, Okowa And The Task Before Makinde (MD DESOPADEC)

Source: Kparobo M. Ehvwubare
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When DESOPADEC was created, towards the twilight hour of the ebullient James Ibori regime, expectations were high. The body was meant to provide succor to the oil producing communities and the local government.

When Uduaghan came into office, he inherited and fashioned out a new order for the new born baby agency. He nominated the first board executives headed by Chief Okrika, an Ijaw elder statesman. With money flowing like river, Chief Okrika and his executives converted nearly all the prestigious hotel suites to

offices and personal homes, not only for board members but for

friends, girl friends and even concubines, fake projects were

advertised on televisions and newspapers as smoke screen to deceive

the people that they are performing.
When Chief Okrika and his executives finally left office, the sum of

N72 billion has gone down the drain. While we are expecting him and

his executives to be persecuted, Chief Okrika was recommended for

National honour award in Abuja for having defrauded the board; Deltans

taught that the next board would be better than the former.

Immediately they were sworn in, they forgot their mandate and engaged

in in-house fighting. Some of them started sponsoring indigenes

against other nationalities, thereby throwing workers and the agency

into perpetual crisis that led to injuries sustained by staffs. The

house fighting was so alarming that board members now look after

themselves. Charms became the order of the day, to a point where, they

abandoned their work, some that were coming to meetings resort to

bringing their chairs and tables from their homes and this does not go

down well with Deltans because their primary duties was to provide

basic amenities to their mandate areas. Luckily for Deltans, the Delta

state house of assembly relieved them of their duty so that they would

not kill themselves.
The then Delta state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan knowing the

importance of the agency, did not rest in his oars. He reconstituted

the board with some former members still retained, this time some of

them performed little but not to the mandate given to them. In that

board, Dr. Henry Ofa, the commissioner Ethiope west, Sapele and Okpe

was adjudged to be the most performing commissioner.

While all the previous boards were enriching their pocket and

families, I asked myself, was this dream of Chief James Ibori why he

created the agency? My question went into rhetoric owing to the fact

that it was not.
Chief James Ibori, the man behind the resource control struggle knew

the sufferings of Oil bearing communities with their huge natural

resources where everyone in Oil bearing communities can afford the

basic amenities but the reverse is the case. What a pity?

Upon assumption in office, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa sent a bill to the state

house of assembly with the view to amending the principal law of

DESOPADEC, the amendment seeks to restructure the management of the

commission by scraping the office of the executive Chairman to be

replaced with the position of managing Director charged with the day

to running of the agency with appointment of part time commissioners,

who would ensure strict execution of the commission projects. The bill

also seeks the substitution of ‘Oil producing areas’ to ‘Oil producing

ethnic nationalities’ with the mindset of inclusion of all parts of

the state.
When the amendment bill was submitted to the house, pressure groups in

oil producing areas descended on the governor like ton of bricks,

there has been no name under the sun, and they have not called him.

Accusations were the order of the day.
When the house passes the bill into law and subsequent ratification by

the governor, the drama took a twist as a popular Niger Delta

activist, Chief Rita Lori Ogbebor, the Igba of the Itsekeri nation

issued a seven days ultimatum to the state government to repeal the

DESOPADEC amendment just passed into law or ready for court action.

Because of that, the governor paid an unscheduled visit to the Olu of

Warri to plead with his subject no to go to court. The drama that

played out at the palace was a story for another day.

To critically analyze the amended DESOPADEC law, some questions

begging for answer is; eight years after the establishment of the

agency, has DESOPADEC lived up to its billings? Has its activities

uplifted the lives or impacted positively on the lives of average oil

bearing communities men, women or even youths on the streets? Is the

oil bearing communities better positioned to find answers to the above

questions?
In finding answers to the above expressions, it is important to note

that the huge resources that have passed through the hands of the

commission to the host communities so far.
For example, the commission budget for 2013 and 2014 were N 37 Billion

and N39 billion respectively. Imagine then the resources that might

have channeled through the commission since 2007?
Assuming conservatively that based on the above budgets for two years

that N30 billion went to DESOPADEC annually for development of oil

bearing communities; it means that for eight years, N240 Billion has

been soaked into the commission without any concrete achievements, a

commission that uses still rented apartments for offices? I stand to

be corrected apart from the zonal offices built by Dr Henry Ofa in

Oghara, Sapele and Okpe local governments, all the offices including

the main office in Warri are rented offices, what a shame? Not many

people have given DESOPADEC a pass mark.
With the appointment of Chief Williams Makinde, task abound, there is

urgent need for him to resuscitate the commission from its moribund

state, Uncle Makinde been a technocrat, fellow in the accountancy

profession and trained administrator would no doubt revive the agency,

after all he has not failed in his oars in the past.

With his successful inauguration, it is the expectation of every oil

bearing communities that he will hit the ground running amid his vast

experience.
First, I would want the commission under Makinde to reposition the

commission, embark on massive people oriented projects, and especially

move the commission offices from rented apartment.
Secondly, he should embark on massive construction of roads projects

fully accompany with street lights, because no doubt roads open up

communities and brings about development in a community.

Thirdly empowerment of men, women and youths should be the commission

major priority , Uncle Makinde, please do not give fish, but teach how

to fish, no doubt with that, issue of insecurity unrest would be

minimize.
Fourthly, the commission should make education a priority, giving free

education to the tertiary institution, my heart breeds seeing our

brilliant youths dropping out of schools, because of their inabilities

to fund their school billings due to their family background. I

recalled in 2008, when I was doing my projects in school, I almost

drop out of school not until I came to you in Abuja when you were

National PDP treasurer, I cannot forget in hurry, what you did to me,

if not for you, only God knows where I would have been by now. You

made my stay memorable in Abuja.
Consequently, I want to sincerely appeal if the commission under your

watch can take over the funding of all the streetlights and the

moribund public LCD television in all the oil bearing communities.

Recently, when I travelled some major cities, street lights are no

longer working, returning our hitherto streets to criminals den,

Oghara your country home was not an exception.
Furthermore, Oghara is fast developing by the day, and as such, there

is urgent need for massive construction of road networks and constant

electricity supply, since IPP is moribund, I appeal for the commission

to look at the step down at Pamol to supplying electricity to the area

and its environs.
Have a smooth sir in your endeavors.
Kparobo M. Ehvwubare, is a journalist, social critics, media/ICT

expert writes from Oghara, Delta state. Could be reach

[email protected], 07067546856.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Kparobo M. Ehvwubare and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."