Published On: Thu, Feb 14th, 2013

Uduaghan Accuses Okrika of Looting DESOPADEC Treasury ……. It’s Mere Blackmail- Okrika

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Chief Wellington Okrika and Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan when the going was good

An agitation by oil-hosting host communities in Delta State that 13% of the state’s revenues should be designated derivative funds and reserved for them has taken a new twist as Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and one of the major agitators are engaged in a war of words.
At a recent press conference in Government House, Mr. Uduaghan accused Wellington Okrika, one of the agitators and a former Chairman of Delta State Oil Producing Development Commission (DESOPADEC), of looting funds from the commission.

Speaking at the press center in Asaba, the state capital, the governor lambasted the agitators of the 13 percent derivation fund. “The agitators are those who no longer have access to pack funds from DESOPADEC,” said Mr. Uduaghan. He continued: “During a meeting with the agitators in my office in Asaba, I asked Okrika why he didn’t carry this agitation when he was the chairman of DESOPADEC. The issue is a constitutional one and until the court decides otherwise there is nothing we can do.”
While advising the agitators to challenge the matter in court, the governor stressed emphatically that the federal government was judiciously following the constitution. In effect, the governor stated that the 13 percent derivation funds can only be managed by the state government. “Are they the government?” the governor asked. “Let them go to court and test their agitation. Anyway, the agitation is being carried out by those who no longer have access to pack funds from DESOPADEC.”
Contacted on the phone for his reaction, the former DESOPADEC boss, Mr. Okrika, described the governor’s comments as mere blackmail just to divert the people’s attention from the main issue at hand.
“Uduaghan is just blackmailing people from gaining access to their money,” he said. “Because I was chairman of DESOPADEC is not the issue now. Uduaghan cannot blackmail me, he cannot indict me.”
A furious Okrika noted that more than ten prominent Niger Deltans, including E.K. Clark, Francis Okpozo, Lidum Mittee as well as Elias Mbam, the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), were deeply involved in the 13 percent advocacy. He named such other participants as Tom Atake and Boy Loaf, whom he described as youth leaders across the Niger Delta region.
“Why should he say because I don’t have access to the funds, that’s why I’m advocating? I have been talking about this 13 percent derivation for a long time now. I am Mr. 13 percent and it’s not for nothing. Chief E.K. Clark has been on this issue for a long time now. Even Senator Okpozo. The money is directly to be shared to our people and not to be kept somewhere for elections. When I fought for 13 percent, was Uduaghan there? Even When I fought for DESOPADEC to be created during James Ibori’s tenure, was Uduaghan there?”
Mr. Okrika added: “When he said I have no access to pack funds in DESOPADEC again, what about all these people involved in the 13 percent agitation? Is it because they have no access to DESOPADEC funds, hence they are agitating for 13 percent too? Because the people who own the money are agitating for it, Uduaghan wants to blackmail the people.”
Mr. Okrika also accused governors of the oil-producing states of under-utilization of the 13% derivation fund.
During a recent a meeting with the Oil and Gas Communities of Nigeria (OGCN), led by Mr. Okrika and former Senator Francis Okpozo, the RMAFC chairman, Mr. Mbam, had suggested that the 13 per cent derivation revenues to oil-producing states ought to be exclusively spent on oil-producing communities who suffer most from the impact of environmental degradation occasioned by oil exploration in their areas.
Mr. Mbam stated that the call became necessary because the bulk of the 13 per cent derivation fund meant for the development of host communities was unjustifiably spent. He added that the misapplication of the funds negated the principle behind derivation, which he described as a form of reparation to the host communities whose land and water resources are devastated by oil exploration activities.

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