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Politics Of DESOPADEC Bill

Posted: Jul 10, 2015 at 12:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Felix Igbekoyi  –  Asaba


Critics have observed that Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, as it stands today, is dwindling in its mandate. Necessary steps, according to them, must be initiated to make it effective to drive development in the mandate areas. It has generally been agreed that the only way to achieve prosperity for all Deltans is to run the system aright. 

Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa

Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa

This was the position of Delta lawmakers last week when DESOPADEC Law Amendment Bill passed the second reading on the floor of the State House of Assembly, DSHA, following an extensive debate on the merits by members at plenary of the House presided over by the Speaker, Hon. Monday Igbuya, representing Sapele Constituency.

Opening debate on the merits of the bill, the House Majority Leader, Hon. Tim Owhefere, Isoko North, recalled that the DESOPADEC law was enacted in 2006, amended in 2010, stressing that the proposed amendment was not meant to destroy the principal law but to make it conform to the realities of the time.

Owhefere noted that there was need to add more flesh to the workings of the commission, stating that one major objective for the amendment is to ensure prudent utilization of funds meant for the development of Oil and Gas producing communities.

He said the proposed amendment sought to change the administrative nomenclature of DESOPADEC, adding that the office of the Executive Secretary would be scrapped, while a Managing Director, with executive powers would be appointed for the day to day running of the commission.

He stated that three directorates, including Directorate of Projects, Social Development Services as well as Administration and Finance would be created to be headed by Executive Directors.

The Majority Leader explained that in the proposed amendment, the Chairman and Commissioners representing the various ethnic nationalities who will make up the members of the Board will operate on part time basis to formulate policies for the commission as obtainable in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.

Owhefere concluded that the amendment will bring functional change in DESOPADEC as it will reposition the commission for better service delivery to the benefiting ethnic nationalities.

Arguing in support of the amendment bill, Hon Samuel Mariere, Ughelli North 1, Daniel Mayuku, Warri South West, Daniel Yingi, Burutu 1 and Oboro Preyor, Bomadi, said the major intent of the amendment is to make DESOPADEC more effective and efficient.

Hons Mariere, Mayuku, Yingi, and Preyor, stated that there was need to upgrade the administrative machinery of DESOPADEC to conform with the present day realities as well as strengthen it to be result-oriented.

For their parts, Hon. Festus Okoh, Ika South, Orezi Esievo, Isoko South One, Timi Tonye, Patani, Evans Iwurie, Ethiope East and Johnson Erijo, Isoko South 2, commended the state Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa for introducing the amendment, saying that the good intent of the bill was being misconstrued in some quarters.

Hons Okoh, Esievo, Tonye, Iwurie and Erijo stated that DESOPADEC as it stands today is dwindling in its mandate, saying that necessary steps must be introduced to make it effective to drive development in the mandate areas, emphasizing that the only way achieve prosperity for all Deltans is to run the system aright.

Also speaking in favour of the amendment, Hon. Kennedy Daubry, Burutu Two, Efe Ofobruku, Uvwie, Dennis Omovie, Warri South Two, Rueben Izeze, Ughelli South and Anthony Elekeokwuri, Ika North East, said the present economic situation requires proactive steps to making government machinery more effective and functional.

Hons Daubry, Ofobruku, Omovie, Izeze and Elekeokwuri stating that considering gas producing communities as well impacted communities in oil explorations was a step in the right direction.

The lawmakers stated that the amendment bill enjoys the mega support of their constituents, saying that the development will also promote awareness in gas production in the state.

They noted that the situation in the country requires radical approach, maintaining that every stakeholder in the Delta State project must shun all form of sentiments and support the proactive ways being adopted by the governor to moving the state forward.

No member spoke against the bill. The second reading was passed following a unanimous voice votes when the question was put by the presiding officer and Speaker of the house, Hon Monday Igbuya.

The DESOPADEC law amendment bill which has generated lots of reactions from stakeholders was forwarded to the house few weeks ago by the state Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, who also solicited early legislative actions on the amendment bill.

Before now Governor Ifeanyi Okowa ha promised to give strength to the DESOPADEC law despite the fact that ex-governor Emmanuel Uduaghan had sent an earlier bill to restructure the commission.

He stated during his inaugural speech, assuring that he would restructure the Board and Management of the commission in line with the NDDC model through an Amendment Bill.

“SMART is not so much a new policy as it is a new approach to addressing our most pressing needs. It will sustain and deepen the policy of less dependency on oil and lay a solid foundation for economic growth and infrastructural development,’’ Okowa stated.

Stakeholders say the position of Governor Okowa may force the members of the Delta State House of Assembly, DSHA, who have gone far with the bill sent by the former governor to jettison the earlier bill on the commission to the Assembly.

However, the Bill sent by Dr Uduaghan has been generating a lot of controversies in the state, forcing him to warn critics of government to stop politicizing the scrapping of DESOPADEC as speculated in some parts of the state.

He advised the critics of the issue and should read the provisions of the bill properly instead of blackmailing government, misleading the masses, especially when he has no intention of scrapping it but to restructure and strengthen the commission to meet with the yearnings of traditional rulers, women and youths in the host communities in the state.

He noted that the new DESOPADEC bill sent to the state House of Assembly was not against any ethnic group or political interest rather it would protect the interest of the grassroots.

The Governor said that contrary to claims in some quarters, “ l have never contemplated scrapping DESOPADEC, l only sent a bill to the House of Assembly to restructure and strengthen the commission and make it responsive to the yearnings of Traditional Rulers, women and youths and to ensure more participation of the grassroots in the decision making process of the commission,’’ Dr Uduaghan stated.