A crisis rocked the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Commission (DESOPADEC) when the commission's chairman, Mr. Godwin Ebosa, and other members challenged the Managing Director (MD), Mr. William Makinde, an associate of former Delta State Governor James Ibori, over the diversion of N350 million to Mr. Ibori's newspaper, the Daily Independent.
The Daily Independent was recently shut down for nonpayment of staff salaries.
It will be recalled that in the wake of the controversial restructuring of the commission following its formal dissolution by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Mr. Ibori, in order to maintain his grip on the commission’s treasury, pressured Governor Okowa to appoint his associate Mr. William Makinde as the MD. Prior to becoming the MD of DESOPADEC, Mr. Makinde was the Director of Finance of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and a National Treasurer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The crisis follows the continued usage of the commission's budget to finance the Western Delta University, which is privately owned by Mr. Ibori, who is currently serving a jail term in the United Kingdom for money laundering and other financial crimes.
A commissioner on the board, who wished to remain anonymous, informed SaharaReporters that the commission is very concerned with the leadership style of Mr. Makinde.
"Yes, I can tell you there's a serious crisis brewing within the commission. We commissioners, the board chairman, and other appointees are at loggerheads with the MD regarding his corrupt leadership. Do you know that the MD, without consulting with anyone, unilaterally approved the payment of N350 million to Mr. Ibori’s newspaper, the Daily Independent which is almost moribund and cannot pay staff salaries,” the commissioner lamented.
A top management staff in the Accounts Department of the commission also expressed concern with the current state of affairs. He explained to SaharaReporters that for the past eight years the commission has financed Mr. Ibori’s Western Delta University.
"For the past eight years, a monthly allocation of N150 million has been released from the commission's N350 million security vote to Mr. Ibori’s Western Delta University for the payment of staff salaries and the cost of running the university.
"Most of the buildings at the Western Delta University were donated to the school by DESOPADEC, and all of the projects are awarded and executed by Mr. Vincent Uduaghan, the current commissioner of transport. A former commissioner of the board, Mr. Henry Ofa, who was appointed by Mr. Ibori, pressed for the commission to back a project to grant Western Delta University an operational license from the National University Commission (NUC).
"The question now is why are we funding a private university with the peoples’ money meant for the development of their areas? Is DESOPADEC created for the intervention of privately owned businesses or for the intervention on behalf of the people in the oil bearing communities who are suffering?”
When contacted, Mr. Henry Ofa confirmed that DESOPADEC executed several projects in the Western Delta University, adding that the commission as an interventionist body cannot be questioned on how and where projects are sited because it has the rights and obligations to execute projects for the betterment of the people.