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DESOPADEC: Loyalists or saboteurs

By Gab Ejuwa

THERE can be no doubt that the establishment of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Develop-ment Commission (DESOPADEC) was an epochal brainwave of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan’s Government.

It was to  see to the social and infastructural development of the oil-producing communities in the state. But in recent times, feelers from this agency of state have given credence to its inability to develop the oil communities even though that is not the fault of the Governor.

In fact, before this era, development, if any in this area had been little and far between and indeed slapdash and uncoordina-ted. However, DESOPADEC came into  being and almost everybody in this erstwhile back of the woods heaved sighs of relief, justifiably or unjustifiably.

The popular thinking was that the brazen anomaly and policy lopsidedness in terms of government and industrial presence, foisted on the oil communities on account of its much-touted inaccessi-bility, was to be wholistically redressed for good.

Especially with the whopping 50 per cent of the 13 per cent derivation to the state allocated to the commission, the oil communities never had it so good. Understandably the drums were rolled out and the glasses of   red  wine clink-ing. It was celebration galore, indubitably bacchanal in its sheersoporific efflore-scence.

And so it was  that the commission began to do its so-called legitimate business even from the poky confines of its premier office complex in the heart of Warri. And since this inconspicious beginning much water has passed under the proverbial bridge.

And now two years after the initial euphoria that greeted this auspicious development, and later some brouhaha that attended its mode of operation or lack of a structured one, it is pertinent and expedient to sit back and appraise, as dispassion-ately as one could  muster, this governmental organi-sation.

With recourse to facts and figures and indeed reasoned arguments determine whether or not the organisation has lived up to its billing, or performed within the ambit of its terms of reverence, or whether it has derailed from its visionary framework.

Sometime in 2008, the state tertiary institutions’ students stormed the commission’s headquarters, Warri, to seek  clarification on the claim of the commission that it had paid the 2008 bursary to the students.

The students were hopping mad because DESOPADEC had not paid bursary of any sort to them since its inception. When the students arrived the commission’s office, its chairman Chief Wellington Okirika, and Secretary, Chief  Andy Kayoma Osawota, refused to attend to them.

Instead they allowed soldiers guarding the premises to run riot on the hapless and helpless students. Not a few of the students sustained various degrees of injury during the soldiers’ rampage.

The former legislative aid to minority leader, Bendel State house of assembly Chief  Ben Omokohwomo Asaboro, once described the commission as a syndicate put in place to drain off the huge treasures meant for the oil producing communities.  “That the Chairman (Okirika) was in OMPADEC, what was the result? The result is that of abandoned projects.”

To start with,  DESOPADEC has scored very low on vision. Granted that the body was conceived as an organisation making use of statutory allocations to catalyse socio-economic development in its mandate area, and granted that it has done just this since its inception, whether coordinately or haphazardly notwithstanding, it really does not bespeak enlightenment or sophisti-cation that the organisation is satisfied with this primarily jejune mode of operation.

In an ever increasingly complex quotidian world of changing knowledge fads and fancies and indeed competences, all of which advise innovations, renovations and relevant versatility.

It is indeed unthinkable that the leadership of this body has not considered the expediency of internally generating funds with a view to supplementing whatever subvention the Uduaghan government brings to its coffers to enhance its operation.

The organisation is smug and snug to sit on its haunches and expect the government’s allocation, and when such is delayed operation is handicapped or even paralysed. This certainly qualifies as stone-aged, caved-dwelling leadership style.

Certainly it does not take much brilliance to collect money and put it to use. The real brilliance is in making the money with qualitative ideas and concepts. Evidently the organisation needs a really brilliant and imaginative leader who can add  a touch of sophistication to its operation and launder its image more auspiciously.

Mr.  Ejuwa, a journalist, writes from Lagos


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