Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has said that he is not opposed to the clamour by oil-bearing communities in the state to share in the 13 per cent derivation fund accruing to the state.
His Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, said in a statement issued in Asaba yesterday that the governor’s wish, contrary to rumours making the rounds, was that the agitation should be holistic and collective.
Ifeajika said the governor’s stand-point was also that the Federal Government should increase the derivation fund to oil-producing states from the current 13 per cent to something more attractive.
He said the governor only advised that if people and communities must agitate for the control of the 13 per cent derivation, they should also clamour for the entire 100 per cent from the Federal Government.
“The 13 per cent is a meagre sum compared to the 87 per cent still being held and shared among all the states and the Federal Government,’’ he quoted the governor as saying.
Ifeajika noted that the law establishing the Delta State Oil-Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC), which empowered it to manage part of the 13 per cent derivation fund, was enacted long before Okowa became governor.
He said that previous administrations in the state administered the derivation fund in line with the law, and that the present administration had not deviated from the same law.
“The law establishing DESOPADEC indicates that 50 per cent of the 13 per cent derivation fund shall be used by the Commission for the purpose of development projects and programmes in oil-producing communities.
“Gov. Okowa in his characteristic forthrightness has continued to attend to issues concerning DESOPADEC according to the law. He is not opposed to communities agitating for the control of derivation funds,’’ Ifeajika stressed.
“For peace and progress of the state, the governor remains committed to ensuring that projects and other life-lifting infrastructure are evenly distributed in oil-producing communities.
“Since the present administration assumed office in 2015, the governor has carried out reforms to re-focus DESOPADEC as an interventionist agency to deliver life-changing infrastructure in the communities.
“As a matter of fact, the Okowa administration has treaded where others had dreaded, especially with the construction of more than 20-kilometre roads criss-crossing the creeks, from Obotobo I, Obotobo II, Sokebulou, Yokiri in Ogulagha, Burutu Local Government Area to on-going construction of Trans-Warri road, with 19 bridges.
“These audacious projects by Okowa in the coastal communities also include the Okerenkoko road in Gbaramatu, Warri South-West; Burutu township concrete road, with pavements, construction of new town in Oboghoro community in Warri North,’’ he added.
Ifeajika said that the governor was profoundly concerned about peace in the Niger Delta, especially in the South-South, and had been working in synergy with his colleagues in the region to ensure that peace continued to prevail in all the states.
He added that Okowa, other governors in the South-South and National Assembly members from the zone had been collaborating to ensure that communities hosting oil facilities got more funds through the Petroleum Industry Bill.
He noted that Okowa’s administration had continued to ensure equity and fairness in projects and appointments, contrary to the claims by the agitators.