A Bill to Decentralize DESOPADEC: A Devil on the Cross
Governance is multi-disciplinary concept that is crucial to the understanding of social, economic and political development. It expresses a relationship between the rulers and the ruled. In recent times, it has been increasingly applied to such relationships over a wide range of human endeavors. Thus, for example, we hear of “resources governance”, eco or environmental governance” and so on.
In its economic sense, it is seen as the use of political authority and exercise of control over a society and the management of its resources for social and economic development. It encompasses the nature of the functioning of a state’s institutional and structural arrangements, decision-making process, policy formulation, implementation capacity, information flow, effectiveness of leadership and the nature of the relationship between rulers and the ruled.
At the moment, there is near a global consensus that democracy provides mankind the best structural, institutional and procedural arrangements for enhancing the legitimacy of the public realm and maximizing the welfare of the people. Accountability, participation, rule of Law, the numerous rights and freedom as well as other principles embodied by the democratic ideal have become the yardsticks for evaluating governance effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness.
In the Vanguard Newspaper of Wednesday, April 29, 2015, specifically on pages 49-55, Delta State Government published an executive Bill sent to Delta State House of Assembly for consideration. The long title of the Bill read: “A Bill for a Law to provide for the establishment of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Agencies, Five Ethnic Nationalities Oil Producing Areas Investment Corporations and for other matter connected therewith”. The law is to be cited as the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Commission and other Bodies Consolidated Law, 2015.
Interestingly, yours sincerely, as the Publicity Secretary of HOSTCOM, will as a matter of fact submit that the Bill is a right step in a right direction. Hostcom over the years, have been praying for the decentralization of the oil commission to reflect its original mandate.
Analytically, when Chief (Dr.) W.O. Okirika fought at the 1995 National Constitutional Conference to give 13% derivation to oil producing communities, it was actually meant to develop the host and impacted communities where oil is being exploited, but when the 13% derivation formula was finally approved by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, State Governments, started playing pranks with the fund, instead of releasing the fund to the communities, they started Legislation on it, that; 50% of the 13% derivation will be retained with the State Government and the remaining 50% of the 13% derivation to a Commission, known as DESOPADEC. And these funds do not get to the communities but government bureaucracy normally gulp up the whole amount and the people that bear the brunt of oil exploration never feel the impact of the money that ought to get to them.
On the basis of the above, HOSTCOM fought for the decentralization of the oil commission so that the money will get to the people directly. For HOSTCOM, the executive Bill that decentralizes the oil commission and creation of agencies and corporation to accelerate development in the oil producing areas is indeed a welcome development.
In a letter to the speaker of Delta State House of Assembly, signed by Delta State HOSTCOM Chairman, Hon. Ben Ewetan; HOSTCOM noted that the Bill in consonance with their objectives, hopes and aspirations of the Oil and Gas producing ethnic nationalities in the State, that the Ika and Aniocha ethnic nationalities should be incorporated into DESOPADEC, the Agencies and Corporations since significant exploration and exploitation of oil and Gas have begun in the areas, thereby, suing for proper and accurate assessment/impact issue of Oil and Gas producing quantities in the areas. Hostcom maintained during their solidarity protest at the House of Assembly on 29th April 2015, that if the facts adumbrated, they were desirous of the expeditious passage of the Bill before the terminal date of the present administration so as to fast-track the development of the communities.
It should be noted that section 2 of the proposed Bill “Ethnic nationality” means, “Ijaws, Itsekiri, Urhobos, Isokos and Ndokwas by this interpretation, other Oil and Gas producing Ethnic Nationalities stand excluded; and specifically Ika and Aniocha Ethnic Nationality.
Thanks must be given to the timing intervention of Ika Group Nigeria (ONU-IKA) for standing up to the occasion, on page 58 of Vanguard Newspaper of Wednesday, April 29, 2015 an advertorial was placed on behalf of the born and unborn Ika people, where they were vehement in opposing the Bill unless Ika ethnic Nationality should be included as oil and Gas producing area.
The above position was taken by HOSTCOM led by Mr. Julius Aziken via a protest letter to the governor of Delta state and speaker on 17th of November, 2013. Then, some people and off course our government representatives did not take it seriously. I hope they will now stand up for our right this time.
**Okafor Wallace is a Publicity Secretary of HOSTCOM
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