By Okiemute Okpomor
Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on the Delta State House of Assembly to probe Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta State over alleged missing N48.6 billion Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) funds.
The APC made this call in a statement signed by Prophet Jones Erue, Chairman of the party in the state and made available to our
correspondent in Warri.
The party alleged that the missing DESOPADEC funds represented 50% of N97.2 billion that had accrued to the Commission and have been paid by the Federal Government in respect of 13 per cent derivation funds that is specifically meant for developing oil-producing areas in Delta State since May 2015 till date.
The Party said it was not satisfied with the alleged response of
the State government who it says had explained that the funds were judiciously used to service some of the debts the state government owed.
The Party alleged that the Governor had diverted the said DESOPADEC funds to improper use, adding that Dr. Okowa has acted in clear breach of his duties and responsibility to the citizens of Delta State, particularly the oil-producing areas under the extant laws of Delta State that established the Commission.
According to the party, “consequent upon the accusations by Delta APC that this fund is yet to be remitted to DESOPADEC and the call on Governor Okowa to account for the whereabouts of the money, the Governor, speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagu, expressly declared that “the money was deducted to service several financial debts and commitments of the state government. Furthermore, Okowa tried to scoff off the allegations by APC as follows: “They have forgotten that we have obligations. We have debts that are deducted before the money even gets to the state on accounts of existing debts, in terms of contractual, in terms of the bonds as well as the rescheduled loans from the Federal Government.”
The Delta APC added that according to the ‘DESOPADEC LAW 2015’ as amended by Governor Okowa, “part V, Section 20 (Expenditure of the Commission) clearly states that the funds of the Commission shall be applied in the interest of Oil Producing Areas only, and it makes no case whatsoever for the intrusion, diversion or misappropriation by the Governor of the derivation funds for payment of accrued debts of the state.”
The APC said that the governor acted in error when he used funds meant for the development of the oil producing areas to service debts that were not related to oil producing communities.
The party therefore said that Governor Okowa ought to be held largely liable for the continuing unrest, violence and hostilities that have persisted in the oil-producing areas of Delta State, adding that Okowa has refused to develop the oil producing communities.
The party added, “if we concede that Okowa does not grasp the link between suppressing development in oil-producing areas and the upsurge of militancy and kidnappings, can we assume that he is so starved and blinded by greed for dispensable money that he must lay his hands on DESOPADEC funds against the existing laws of the state which he passed himself? Worse still, could this not be part of a “hidden ploy” to incite militancy and kidnappings, thereby frustrating the effort of the federal government at securing the much-needed peace within the region? In summary, Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa has failed on grounds of fiscal responsibility and in his constitutional duty to sustain peace and security in Delta state. He has also failed morally in upholding the principal tenets of equity and distributive justice.”
The APC further added, “should the State House of Assembly decline their responsibility to institute a probe, we would conclude that they are hands in gloves with Governor Okowa in the suppression of the people of Delta State. Lastly, we urge deprived Deltans to unite, irrespective of political persuasions, against Governor Okowa’s selfish, careless and wasteful agenda. Deltans must rise as one determined family to challenge the inept and vision less misrule of Governor Okowa and his PDP government now and in preparation for throwing them out in 2019.”