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Published On: Tue, Sep 3rd, 2013

How to Move DESOPADEC Forward

By: Charles Ikedikwa Soeze
It is a truism to say that Delta State contributes marvellously well to the federation account through oil for the development of the entire country. I think that was why in 2006 the administration of the current governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan established the Delta State Oil producing Development Commission (DESOPADEC) to play the role of community development within the state.
The big question now is can DESOPADEC make impact in the entire Delta State or the oil producing communities within the state?
In my own opinion, it is crystal and abundantly clear that DESOPADEC has been suffering from administrative problems and lacks proper coordination probably due to the fact that we want to always appoint party loyalists to the board and also the attempt of the state government to reflect members of the board from oil producing communities irrespective of their versatility, professionalism or otherwise.
However, it is not in the best interest of the entire state, for the 13% derivation to be managed by DESOPADEC exclusively to areas with oil wells, this is because the negative impact of oil exploration activities also affect communities outside the immediate vicinities of oil wells. In other words, there should be a more liberal application of the functions of DESOPADEC in order to efficiently and effectively achieve the desired goals, especially peace and development, not a strict application limited to oil wells and tribes. If that is the case, the government slogan “Delta, we be one” is no longer relevant. It is important to point out that our communities are mixed, oil operations are extensive and include pipelines, pumping stations, other installations including administrative and housing spread around the communities in a local government area and gas flaring, oil spillage, fire outbreaks, environmental pollutions among others affect communities outside the immediate vicinities of oil wells and oil gathering points. In other words, I think it is improper to strictly use the parameters of oil wells and tribes in the allocation of development projects this is because it will bring more damage than goodwill to the peace, unity and stability of oil producing areas.
In addition, the use of public funds to develop ethnic nationalities contravenes section 7 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) particularly subsection 2(b) (i)-(iii) and subsection 5(b). Local government areas and communities in a particular state are what government should take care of. We must therefore see DESOPADEC as interventionist agency for all communities in the state. it will be counter-productive for the agency to operate on tribal basis or on location of oil wells. No ethnic group should see DESOPADEC as exclusively constituted to provide for them, to the exclusion of other groups. I think and believe the Governor should as a matter of urgency and for the progress and development of all communities in Delta State review the parameters of the operations of the state interventionist body in order to align with one of the governor’s 3-point agenda.
For the DESOPADEC to move forward, the board members should be technocrats not based on party loyalists or from oil producing communities. This, I believe, has made DESOPADEC not to be effective. The federal character principle which late General Murtala Mohammed introduced on Monday, 20th July 1975 while addressing members of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) which has not helped at the federal level for efficiency and effectiveness should not be brought into the DESOPADEC board. I think the board is always having problems because of level of proper coordination and probably they see it as “come, chop and go”. This is not the best. In 2008, the Delta State House of Assembly finance and appropriation committee questioned the rationale behind the use of =N=51 million to renovate a house rented at a cost of =N=39 million by DESOPADEC, refer to the Pointer newspaper of 4th March 2008 (front page). Many Deltans will also like to know how DESOPADEC =N=51 billion naira budget was spent.
Source: Energy Today

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