By Ogude Samuel, Warri
The President of Ijaw Oil and Gas Pro-ducing Communities Bishop (Dr) Samson Amajene has said that one of the things that will make Governor Okowa to realise the dream of a Stronger Delta is for him (Governor) to develop the Ijaw Oil and Gas Producing Communities in the state.
Bishop Amajene stated this in a chat with newsmen in Effurun, Delta State. He said the body has discovered that in the first tenure of the administration of the Governor, projects done in Ijaw Oil and Gas producing communities were sketchy, adding that there were consistent budgets roll over which drastically affected the development of Oil and Gas Producing Communities.
He said the law establishing DESOPADEC was amended three times adding that the first one made DESOPADEC like NDDC whereby the board became a part time and Director and its executive were key operators of the commission, the second and the third amendments were extension of tenure for those in office. He added that in this new dispensation, the body appealed that there should be 4th amendment to restructure DESOPADEC into Ethnic Development Agencies whereby each nationality has its accruable funds to carry out projects in their various ethnic nationalities which have not been the case in the first administration.
While congratulating Governor Okowa for his election victory and subsequent swearing in along with his Deputy, Barr Kingsley Otuaro, Bishop Amajene said that the past administration did not give room for transparency in the financial operation of DESOPADEC as it has provided room for problems where monies belonging to one ethnic nationally in Oil and Gas producing quotum is used to pay staff salaries and contracts of another ethnic nationally with less production quotum.
The Ijaw leader cited an example of the statutory signatory to DESOPADEC account which deploys money from one ethnic nationality money to pay salaries and contracts of other ethnic nationalities without the knowledge and approval of the ethnic representatives saying that this situation illustrates gross violation of financial regulations and guide lines of the commission.
He said the Federal Government pays 100% of the accruable funds to Delta State Government for the development of the oil producing communities saying that statutory 50% as approved in the law has never been fully implemented and that it is a public knowledge that 50% of the 13% derivation funds has never been released when due.
Bishop Amajene added that it is also common knowledge that the consistent demands by Oil and Gas Producing Communities to correct this abnormaly failed, adding this occasioned the situation where Delta State government owes DESOPADEC millions of naira.
He said on the appointment of the new board, the body appealed to Governor Okowa to seriously protect the interest of the oil and gas producing communities by appointing technocrats, God fearing and people oriented into the new board to pilot the affairs of community, not people who will not pick phone calls and convey Town Hall Meeting of Oil Producing Communities.
Bishop Amajene said there are agitations and lobbying that are on-going in the oil and gas producing communities on who to be appointed saying that the Ijaw Oil and Gas Producing Communities appealed to the Governor to take cognizance of the zoning arrangement that oil and gas producing communities have put in place to avoid chaos and disorderliness in the nations.
He said: “As l speak with you, there is serious agitation and lobbying going on, on who to be appointed but we know what the Governor can do this time around”.
He said for the benefit of doubt, the following are the Ijaw Nation Oil and Gas Producing Communities namely: Gbaramatu Kingdom, Ogulaa Kingdom, Egbama Kingdom, Ogbe Ijaw kingdom, Debiri Kingdom Iduwuni Kingdom and Kau Kingdom.
The President of Ijaw Oil and Gas Producing Communities therefore appealed to the Governor to go into his archive and know the kingdoms that have benefited from the appointments of the board, just as he asked him to use his sense of judgment to avoid crisis that may be un-controllable as that can amount to the destruction of critical oil installations in the swamp.
He said the Ijaw ethnic nationally is second in Oil and Gas Producing Communities in the state and therefore appealed to him to give Ijaw body one Executive Director, one Commissioner and the Chairman of the Board in this second tenure to correct the anomaly and injustice done to their people over the years.