DESOPADEC’s N100m security vote tears Delta oil communities apart

THE decision by the management of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) to set aside N100 million monthly as security vote to host communities has resulted in bitter acrimony amid allegations of fraud levelled against the board.
Natio‎nal Daily investigations however revealed that the policy is a carryover from previous boards of the commission, prompting further inquiry as to how the N100 million was shared in the past as there are conflicting claims as to whether the money got to the affected communities in the past.
But it was learnt that the new board led by Makinde Williams decided to share the money among five ethnic nationalities to ensure equity and in line Aommission.
The affected nationalities are Urhobo, Ijaw, Ndokwa, Isoko and Ika ‎said to be the oil and gas producing communities recognised by the new DESOPADEC’s law signed into law by Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa.
Our checks reveal that analysts have queried the propriety of setting aside N100 million as security vote to be shared by representatives of the communities ‎monthly rather than focusing on the core mandate of improving the standard of living in those areas.
Similarly, claims that some directors and commissioners of the interventionist agency have been short changing the affected the communities and pocketing a huge chunk of the money are rife fuelling allegations of fraud.
Efforts by National Daily to unearth divisions among the representatives of the various communities involved in sharing the said security proved very diffi‎cult except in Isoko where the development is said to be simmering, pitching the youths against the political class and Presidents General of the 19 clans that make up the ethnic nationality.
Trouble reportedly broke out when the President of the Isoko National Youths Council, Hon Victor Egbo Okemena, alias Last Mugu was invited to DESOPADEC’s headquarters in Warri and handed only N4 million out of the N20 million said have been approved with no word as to which month the money was meant.
Last Mugu, also a Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor Okowa along with his executive reportedly queried why only N4 million was released, insisting that unless the balance was raised he would mobilise Isoko Youths to the commission’s headquarters to demand for the balance.
It was gathered that efforts by Chief Askia Ogeh, Executive Director of Finance (EDF) and Hon Oviemuno Oghoore, Commissioner representing Isoko to calm the angry youths was not immediately successful, especially as they wanted commitment that the money would be paid monthly.
Following assurances, the youth leaders accepted the money although many were said to be dissatisfied that other powerful interests were to pocket a whopping N16 million monthly, a development they threatened to report to the governor.
B‎ut sources familiar with the transaction deny that powerful interests was to pocket N16 million monthly, revealing that apart from the youths, other groups expected to share in the booty includes, Delta Political Vanguard, security consultants and leaders of the 19 clans in Isoko.
However, DESOPADEC MD, Saturday warned against spreading rumours against the agency adding that the board was committed to developing oil and gas producing communities as well as improving the lives of the people in the identified areas.