The opaque and less than transparent manner the board of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), ran the interventionist oil agency was responsible for the dissolution of the leadership of the board, the Nigerian Times has learnt.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa sacked the Board this morning, but gave no reason for his action which was expected before now.
There has been much outcry over the management of the commission which comprises representatives of oil-producing communities including Urhobo which has three representatives, Ndokwa which has two and Ijaw, Itsekiri and Isoko, which have just one representative each.
As it is, the sharing formula for the commission is based on the quantum of oil produced by various ethnic nationalities.
It was learnt that currently 29 per cent goes to the Itsekiri, 27 per cent for Ijaw, 21 for Urhobo, 14 for Isoko and nine per cent for Ndokwa ethnic group.
However, apart from official sleaze which has characterised the running of the agency, the Nigerian Times learnt that it was also a veritable conduit for the outgone administration which literally turned the commission to its ‘oil well’.
Monies were routinely released to politicians on the orders of the former government while the developmental projects earmarked to be executed for the benefit of the ravaged communities suffered.
In a statement by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Festus Agas, Governor Okowa instructed the board to immediately hand over to the most senior officials in the different departments.
He also specifically ordered all members of the sacked board to ensure they hand over properties in their possession, especially official vehicles before their departure.
The past administration was also said to have been complicit in the consistent non-release of the entire 50 percent of the accrued 13 percent derivation fund paid by the federal government to the State as prescribed under the existing law.
For the whole of last year, the Nigerian Times gathered that the commission was starved of its statutory 50 per cent funding, though the state government rarely gave up to 30 per cent of the 50 per cent accruing to the communities.
The dissolved board led by Mr. Oritsua Kpogho, Chairman, was also not able to account for the billions of naira which accrued to the agency since the last board was inaugurated.
Recently, the Delta State Economic Dash Board, through its state consultant, ROLLANDE BERGERS and Co, which probed the books of the Ministries, was said to have found out that at least N25bn of the agency’s funds could not be accounted for.
But the statement sacking the board directed all members of the commission to hand over all government property, including vehicles in their possession to the secretary of the commission.
There has also been a new twist, as Okowa has overridden ex-Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s bill to restructure the commission just before his exit.
There are insinuations that Governor Okowa might force the members of the Delta State House of Assembly who are at the last stage before passing the bill to jettison it for his own.
Okowa promised to give strength to the DESOPADEC law, vowing to restructure the Board and Management of the commission in line with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) model through his own Amendment Bill.
The governor has yet to announce the appointment of new members following the dissolution of the leadership of the sacked oil agency’s board.