The Ijaw oil and gas producing communities of Delta State, have rejected the 2016 budget for the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC.
They have alleged perceived injustices and marginalisation against them. Speaking on behalf these communities, Bishop Samson Amajene, President, Gbaramatu Kingdom, urged the Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa to review the budget by correcting the said imbalance and injustice, which they said violated the law setting up the commission. Prior to the passage of the said budget, these communities had warned Governor Okowa that the commission’s chairman from Itsekiri ethnic nationality and its Urhobo Managing Director were skewing more projects to their ethnic nations to the detriment of Ijaw oil communities.
Sadly, instead of addressing the lopsidedness against the Ijaw which produces 27 percent of oil and gas resources in the state, Governor Okowa kept a disturbing silence, allowing the these elements in the commission and House of Assembly to carry out this marginalisation unhindered.
In a comparative review of the 2016 budgetary provisions of the commission, the Ijaw noted that,
It is incredulous that out of 73 new centralized projects of over N4,004,103,844, only two projects were allocated to Ijaw areas, while 40 projects of N2,141,846,725 went to Urhobo areas and Ndokwa got N18,000 at N620,000,000. “Similarly, Urhobo alone was allocated N2.048 billion as personnel cost, whereas the Ijaws (second largest producers in Delta) received a paltry N577m.” Urhobo further has over N2.354 bn budget for capital projects, indicating that salaries have reverted to first-line charge, as against payment from the various ethnic nationalities’ accounts.