The Delta State chapter of the Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas from the five oil producing ethnic nationalities stormed the State House of Assembly on Tuesday to protest against Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and Speaker Monday Igbuya over what they called the fraudulent disappearance of about N16 billion from the Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission’s (DESOPADEC) 2015 budget.
According to the protesters in attendance, the disappearance of about N16 billion from the DESOPADEC 2015 budget figures as listed in the current budget before the House is suspicious. The protesters were disappointed that the 2015 DESOPADEC budget passed by the House of Assembly has not been implemented, as all budget figures for 2015 were cleverly omitted to shortchange the Host Communities.
In a petition addressed to the House of Assembly Speaker and signed by the National Coordinator of the Host Communities, Mr. Maikpobi Okareme, the State Chairman, Mr. P.K. Egedegbe, the State Secretary, Mr. Gabriel Isibeluo and five other ethnic nationality leaders, the group stated that the ambiguities and inconsistencies in the DESOPADEC 2016 budget proposal are appalling.
"The practice over the years in preparing DESOPADEC budgets has been to state and list the previous year’s budget against the proposed current year, which should have been reflected in the 2015 approved budget and the 2016 estimates. The new DESOPADEC law as passed by the House and signed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa stipulated that no DESOPADEC budget would be prepared without a verified production quantum.
"We urge the State House of Assembly and the State government to implement fully the 2015 DESOPADEC budget as passed, especially projects that have been designed for which tender documents have been prepared and ready for distribution. No project should be classified under centralized expenditure that does not affect the five ethnic nationalities collectively and should be evenly distributed because this principle was not adhered to in the 2016 budget.
“Projects sited outside the oil and gas producing communities should be deemphasized. The budget should be reversed such that the capital expenditure should be higher than the current expenditure," the Host Communities stated.
The group pressed the House of Assembly to suspend any further consideration of the DESOPADEC budget 2016 until the fraudulent practices are dropped and corrected.
It would be recalled that last week, the Itsekiri ethnic nationality of the Host Communities protested against the Speaker and the State government over the fraudulent DESOPADEC budget.