Mr Olisa Ifeajika, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, says the Governor is not in any way against the clamour by oil-bearing communities to be given funds directly from the 13 per cent Derivation Fund.
Ifeajika said that contrary to the reasoning and issues being canvassed by some groups and the slant adopted by a section of the media on the issue, Okowa wished that the agitation should be holistic and collective, and targeted at getting the Federal Government to give oil-producing states more percentage of funds from the remaining 87 per cent still being kept and shared across the country.
The governor’s spokesman made this known in a statement in Asaba on Sunday.
According to him, 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 as 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.
The spokesman explained that the law establishing Delta State Oil-Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC), which empowered it to manage part of the 13 per cent derivation funds, was enacted long before Okowa became governor.
He said previous administrations in the state administered the derivation funds in line with the law, which the present administration had not deviated from.
“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.
“Governor Okowa in his characteristic forthrightness, which has ingratiated him to all Deltans, 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; and 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 over 20-kilometre roads crisscrossing the creeks, from Obotobo I, Obotobo II, Sokebulou, Yokiri in Ogulagha, Burutu Local Government Area to ongoing 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, the completed Ovwor-Effurun-Otor Bridge and ongoing construction of Ayakoromo Bridge,” he said.
Ifeajika reaffirmed 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 and other governors in the South-South and National Assembly members from the zone had been collaborating to ensure that clauses for adequate funds to be made available to communities hosting oil facilities and their activities were enshrined in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The CPS noted that Okowa’s administration had continued to ensure equity and fairness in projects and appointments, contrary to the claims by the agitators, adding that the government would remain on that lane, which had been acknowledged as progressive and prosperous for the state.
“The present administration will not be distracted in any way,’’ Ifeajika said and called on all Deltans to support the government by all hands being on deck to ensure the attainment of a stronger Delta.