By Ediri Ejoh
Governors in the Niger Delta region and other oil producing states have been accused of diverting the 13 per cent derivation fund meant for development of oil producing communities for other purposes in contravention of Section 162, Sub-section 2 of the 1999 Constitution.
This allegation was made by an energy expert, Mr. Michael Owhoko, in an article entitled, “How 13%, NDDC benefits are hijacked from oil communities”.
Owhoko, who is also the author of the book, ‘The Language of Oil and Gas’, said: “Since 1999 till date over N9 trillion has been paid to the oil producing states as 13 per cent derivation, but the state governors of Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Ondo, Abia and Imo states have failed to use this money for the development of the oil producing communities as required by law.”
Owhoko accused the governors of taking advantage of the vulnerability and gullibility of these oil communities to divert these benefits to their preferred locations, leaving the core oil communities to their fate.
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He said: “Rather than disburse the money as statutorily required, the state governors and their representatives spend the money at whims in a way similar to security votes. No accountability.
“Besides their pockets, they concentrate development in the state capitals, and other areas of personal interests, without consideration for the core oil areas. Regrettably, they get away with this misappropriation, using the instrumentality of their offices to intimidate the people”.
According to the author, the conditions of the oil communities do not matter to the governors despite the excruciating pains they go through in their spirit, soul and body, seeing their wealth being carted away and losing their means of livelihood to environmental ruin with no basic amenities like electricity, schools, drinkable water, roads, or even cottage hospitals.
“Pay a visit to a few of these oil communities and see whether you can hold back tears. A few examples are Eastern Obolo, Ibeno (Akwa Ibom), Ogbotobo, Emadadja (Delta), Obigbo, Krakrama (Rivers), Opukushi, Kologbene (Bayelsa), Ikpoba Okha, Uromehe (Edo), Jirinwo, Awoye (Ondo), Umurie, Izaku (Abia) and Ossu, Mmahu (Imo)”, he advised.
Owhoko stated further that the various agencies set up by some of these state governors to bring succour to these communities are just scams to hoodwink the people.
“Commissions like the Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC), Edo State Oil and Gas Producing Areas Development Commission (EDSOGPADEC), Abia State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ASOPADEC) and Imo State Oil-Producing Area Development Commission (ISOPADEC) are used as conduit for political compensation by these governors”, he said.