Workers of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) on Monday locked out the commission's Managing Director (MD), Williams Makinde, commissioners, and other officials during a mass protest against Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the commission over their alleged embezzlement of the 13% derivation and non-payment of staff bonuses.
The aggrieved workers shut down the commission headquarters as early as 8:00 a.m. in Warri and barricaded all surrounding roads. They accused the governor and DESOPADEC management of committing various injustices to the workers, including failing to pay their year-end bonuses, refusing to promote eligible workers, and failing to pay pensioners their retirement entitlements.
Describing Mr. Okowa as a bad omen and corrupt governor, the aggrieved workers vowed to continue with their protest until their demands were met, warning that if by next week their demands were not met, they would occupy the government house and the State House of Assembly.
One of the protesting staff who simply identified himself as Goodluck told SaharaReporters that, apart from their bonuses, they are also protesting against the highhandedness of the Delta State governor and DESOPADEC.
“In 2013, the commission [DESOPADEC] complained that there was no money and appealed that we should allow our salaries to be slashed by 30 percent and promised that once things improved it shall be restated, but up till now it has not,” Goodluck told our correspondent.
“Today, we are here to protest our 13-month salary, which is part of workers’ welfare packages to be paid during every December festive season. But so far, the board has refused to pay.
“The commission is only acting the script of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. Okowa wants DESOPADEC to be scrapped. We will resist attempts by this government not to pay our bonuses and our entitlements,” he vowed.
A senior staff who identified himself as Chukwudi wondered why the same commission that had been catering to their welfare since its creation has suddenly refused to pay their bonuses and entitlements accruing to them in 2016, adding that the commission has been going downhill ever since Mr. Okowa was elected governor.
“Aside from the 13-month salary, DESOPADEC owes us leave allowances and promotion benefits. Pensioners are being owed, too. Those who have retired have not been paid. Many have died from the economic hardship while many are running helter-skelter because they can’t pay their rent,” Chukwudi said.
As at the time of filing this report, several calls and messages sent to the DESOPADEC Managing Director Williams Makinde were ignored.