DELTA State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa has described as misleading a newspaper publication alleging the dissolution of the DESOPADEC (Delta State Oil Producing Communities Development Commission), saying the Commission was very dear to his heart and there was no iota of truth in the said publication.
Addressing a press conference on 24/07/15 in Asaba, Governor Okowa who spoke through the Chief Press Secretary, Mr Charles Aniagwu disclosed that it was the Board of the Commission that was dissolved.
“We want to make it clear that the Commission is intact and never dissolved, what was dissolved is the Board whose tenure has elapsed long before now,” he said, asserting, “Section 7 of the DESOPADEC Act, provides for a three years tenure for members of the Commission, the Board in question was inaugurated August 2011 and reconstituted in November 2012, the life of the Board was thus extended by 3 months (to take of the September-November, 2012 when they were out of office) and it lapsed by November 2014 following the expiration of their three years tenure as spelt out in Section 7.
“That meant that they have overstayed their three years tenure,” Governor Okowa added.
He reiterated, “we are also aware of report suggesting that contractors are being owed money because the Board has been dissolved, nothing can be further from the truth as one of the early actions of our Governor on assumption of office was to direct the release of two billion naira to the Commission to enable it meet its regular and contractual obligations and it is pertinent to also point out here that the Commission between January and May, 2015 received 3.5 billion naira.”
Governor Okowa also used the occasion to shed light on the amendment of the bill setting up DESOPADEC stating, “let us make it very clear that the alleged inclusion of gas in the definition of Oil producing communities is not new as Section 2 of the existing Act aptly defined Oil producing areas as oil and gas producing communities in the state while Section 7 of the principal law, sub section 1 paragraph C, clearly talked about oil producing ethnic nationalities.
“The reason for the proposed amendment is to reposition the Commission to effectively address the plight of oil bearing communities and not just a theatre for mere ethnic arguments, as such, the introduction of a Managing Director and Executive Director is aimed at efficiently maximizing allocation to the Commission to bring about optimal benefits to the downtrodden people of the oil bearing communities,” he emphasised.
On allegations that the Delta State government received the sum of N70 billion as bailout funds from the Federal Government, Governor Okowa said, “let us make it clear that no 70 billion naira under any guise whether allocation, bailout or gratis was released to the state,” stating that the huge debt burden of the state was been restructured through the Debt Management Office for the loans to become Federal Government bonds thereby giving the state a long repayment period without increasing the debt burden of the state.
He stated that restructuring the debt was a proactive step to enable his administration “deliver on its promise of prosperity to all Deltans.”