Stop This Marginalisation And Injustice – Ijaw Communities Tell Delta Governor
SAN FRANCISCO, September 22, (THEWILL) – A group, Ijaw oil and gas producing communities, Delta State, have written a protest letter to the State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, to redress the alleged marginalisation and injustice against them in the state's N28 billion budget of the Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC).
The letter, signed by the group's President, Bishop Samson Amajene (JP), as well as Comrade Morrison Anuwo, Johnbull Ogodobiri, Samson Oyimi, Deacon Igetei Bob-Wellington and Pastor Alex Kenerekedi, representing Egbema, Ogulagha, Ogbe-Ijoh, Diebiri, Iduwinni and Kou clans, accused Okowa and the Assembly of manipulating the budget to favour the governor's clan and the Speaker's Urhobo ethnic nationality.
“It is incredulous that of 73 new centralised projects in the 2016 DESOPADEC Budget amounting to N4,004,103,844, only two are allocated to Ijaw areas, while 41, amounting to N2,141,846,725, were allotted to Urhobo areas,” the letter read.
“Similarly, in the recurrent budget of the commission, the Urhobo ethnic nationality alone was allocated N2.048 billion as personnel cost, whereas Ijaw, the second largest oil and gas producers in the state, are allocated N577 million as personnel cost.
“It should be noted that after having N2.048 billion as recurrent expenditure in this year's DESOPADEC budget, the Urhobo still have over N2.354 billion as capital budget for projects. This clearly shows that salaries (personnel cost) have reverted to first-line charge, as against the payment of workers' salaries from various ethnic nationalities' accounts.”
“We recall that the commission was a creation of the enabling law, which preached fairness and equitability in the distribution of development projects to oil and gas producing areas of the state, in line with their production quantum.
“We have no doubt that this marginalisation of the Ijaw ethnic nationality is perpetrated with implicit support of the state government and its top officials because similar heists are being done on us by the other agencies.
“For instance, it will amaze the public that of 32 major projects awarded by the State Tenders Board, only one project is meant for an Ijaw community, and that is the construction of Main Axial Road at Okerenkoko.
“Again, of 21 contracts awarded by the Delta State Ministry of Works, none is in an Ijaw area and/or local government. Besides, of 168 contracts awarded by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to renovate primary schools in Delta State, only 15 schools were renovated in Ijaw areas, with none renovated in any of the Ijaw oil producing communities.
“This is unacceptable to us, and we demand that Governor Okowa swiftly and decisively correct the overwhelming imbalances and injustices by reviewing the 2016 DESOPADEC budget as well as correcting the glaring imbalance in the 2016 Delta State Budget to reflect the 27 per cent production quantum of the Ijaw ethnic nationality.”
Story by David Oputah