Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Delta Oil and Gas Stakeholders Group yesterday warned that there would be total anarchy in Delta State should the state House of Assembly go ahead with its alleged plan to dissolve Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC).
It maintained that the alleged plan by state House of Assembly would throw the state into another avoidable crisis with its proposed dissolution of the board set up for development of oil producing communities.
The group gave the warning yesterday in a statement titled “Before Another Crisis Erupt in Oil Bearing Communities” and signed by its President, Dr. Tagbiretse John; External Affairs Officer, Obakpo Goodluck and Organising Secretary, Gregory Eze.
It alleged that since the group raised the alarm over alleged padding of the commission’s 2016 budget and inequitable distribution of projects amongst the host communities which made Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to order for a review, some elements in the state house of assembly had been making moves to dissolve the board of the commission in other to have their way.
“We are not unmindful of the antics of the House of Assembly, the committee on DESOPADEC and other principal members of the House, some of whom have padded the budget with as much as 20 of their ‘interest projects’ to the detriment of the oil bearing communities. These smuggled projects now face a certain death in view of the planned examination.
“We are reliably informed that these sets of persons have infiltrated the oil bearing communities and groups, including the Host Communities of Oil and Gas (HOSTCOM). Some persons have been induced to carry out protests to demand for the dissolution of the DESOPADEC board in order to pave the way for the appointment of surrogates and stooges who would then facilitate the passage of their ‘alien projects’ in the budget.
“This move by these elements is not only selfish and condemnable; it is dangerous and capable of unleashing an ill wind that would blow no good in the state”, it stated.
The group said as respected stakeholders and leaders of oil bearing communities in Delta state, it feels the pulse of its people and knows that this was a very wrong move that would be very costly.
“We are therefore using this medium to warn against any act that is capable of jeopardising the fragile peace in the areas. This warning is necessary because of the tension that this plan is generating in the oil bearing communities.
“This is the first time that the DESOPADEC Board has comprised of reputable and known stakeholders in the oil and gas bearing communities in the state and it will be counterproductive for politicians to upset the apple cart because of their greed and selfish interests”, it added.
The group however maintained that any review or reevaluation of the distribution of projects should be along production quantum line.
It declared “Amidst the growing call for the review of the dubious 2016 DESOPADEC Budget, we are aware that there is need for reevaluation of the distribution of the so-called ‘Centralized Project’ along production quantum line. Our position remains that any restructuring/ readjustment of the budget without recourse to production would be unacceptable”.
The group noted that the people of the oil producing communities would no longer sit down and become the weeping boys and victims of unsavoury politics of the State Assembly or any greedy politician under any guise.
“Issues of marginalisation, injustice and abuse of power as inherent in this unfolding drama have over the decade led to crisis and insurgence in the Niger Delta in general and Delta State in particular.
“A situation whereby someone sits in the coziness of his home far away from the suffering of oil bearing communities to appropriate and misappropriate what belongs to the people cannot augur well for peace and security”, it added.
The group therefore alerted President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly and Governor Okowa about the plan of the said cabal to plunge Delta State into yet another avoidable disaster.
“We are sitting on a tinder box and the orchestrated plan by the Dennis Omovie-led House Committee on DESOPADEC could be the spark that would ignite another trouble in the land”, it added.