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