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Published On: Sat, Aug 24th, 2013

How Urhobos are Marginalised in DESOPADEC

By Jude Ekrakitie
The marginalisation of the Urhobos both the Federal and state level despite they being majority is no more news. But the new development is the the total marginalisation of the Urhobos Delta State Oil Producing Areas (DESOPADEC) by the powers that be.
It is true that DESOPADEC,was a creation of the former Governor of Delta State,Chief James Onanefe Ibori who is an illustrious son of Urhobo in 2007, but today, under the Uduaghan’s led government, Urhobo’s interest has suffered greatly as far the six years old commission is concerned.

Following the dissolution of the first constituted board by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in 2007, a massive recruitment drive gave Urhobo edge over the other four ethnic groups that constituted the mandate area of DESOPADEC. Not only were Urhobos in large numbers, they also have three members in the board representing the three Federal constituencies as against one each for the rest ethnic nationalities.
This was the beginning of the envy especially by the Itshekiri s. Upon the screening exercise conducted by the board recently, again the Urhobos produced more senior staff than any other ethnic group. Arising from this, a spirited campaign was mounted by the Itsekiris in particular that Urhobo should reduce their number of staff to reflect its oil production quantum, maintaining that they (Itsekiris) should have more staff and dictate who take what position.
It is interesting to note that a unilateral production quantum of 29% to Itshekiri, 27% to Ijaw and 21% to Urhobo was enacted into law by the state House of Assembly. While the Isoko nation had 14% and Ndokwa has 9% as revenue sharing formula among the five ethnic nationalities that make up the DESOPADEC mandate area.
The Urhobos has always argued that the data for this percentage of sharing the ratio of oil production need an urgent review to reflect the current realities but all pleas has fell on deaf ears.
As a result of this formula, Itshekiri for the 2012 budget had over 8billion naira for capital projects while Urhobo covering well over eight local government areas had a paltry 2.7 billion naira for capital project. At a time the Warri crisis took a negative toll on the state revenue as only the onshore revenue came to the rescue, the Itshekiri still claim dominance of oil production even when most of the offshore facilities are outside their communities.
It is instructive to note that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) appears to be conspiring to undo the Urhobos with their refusal to update oil production data in Delta State.
Taking a cue from our sister Edo State,our own DESOPADEC should be an oil and gas commission but there seems to be a deliberate plan not to include gas as that will put Urhobo ahead.
Amidst this injustice is the promotion of ethnic agenda by the Itshekiris who want to occupy every juicy position in the commission even when they are not qualified hence the existing management vacancies is being shared according to the aforementioned oil production quantum.
The case of the Acting Head of Security Unit who only graduated in 2003 but placed on salary level 13 without any experience when many others who graduated in the 90’s are placed on level 8 is a food for taught. It will be fair to invite the state head of service to intervene to once again visit the issue of grading of staff in DESOPADEC to allow for merit and competence.
Jude Ekrakitie writes from Port Harcourt

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