IJAW National Leader and convener of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Edwin Clark, has accused Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, of mismanaging the state’s share of 13 per cent derivation funds for oil-producing communities.
Clark, who said this in a statement on Thursday, February 2, described the administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) vice presidential candidate as a “reign of unaccountability.”
According to him, the funds, which come from the Federation Account to oil-producing communities through state governments as stated in Section 162, Sub-section 2 of the Nigerian Constitution, should be dedicated solely to the development of affected communities.
The elder statesman claimed that the state government has not properly utilized the derivation funds on important areas and projects but rather on “favoured areas.”
According to him, the funds should be directed towards schools and projects in the oil-producing communities.
Clark pointed out that the inclusion of three state higher institutions recently converted by the Delta state government does not qualify under the scheme. He argued that three other higher institutions in Warri, Burutu, and Agbor would qualify for conversion.
The former Information Minister wondered why the new Osadebey University in Asaba, which used to be part of Delta State University, has now been singled out to be qualified for the 13 per cent derivation funds.
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He questioned why the old Delta State University in Abraka, an oil-producing area, was not qualified for funding from the 13 per cent derivation fund while Asaba, which does not produce oil, was included.
The Ijaw leader also demanded that the Delta State government release records and amounts spent on the projects, warning that failure will result in PANDEF releasing its own records.
Clark stressed that all educational institutions in Delta State, including tertiary institutions, are provided for in the state’s yearly budget and have nothing to do with the 13 per cent derivation funds.
He called on Okowa to stop favouring certain parts of the state and to provide a clear financial record concerning the 13 per cent derivation funds, stressing the need for all deserving and other communities to benefit from the funds.
Clark equally questioned the statement made by the Delta State Commissioner of Finance, who claimed that N5 billion from the 13 per cent derivation was used to pay pensions for both state and local government workers.
He criticized the governor’s decision to amend the enabling legislation of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) to include more oil-producing communities in Delta State, including his own local government area, Ika.
Clark noted that the amendment to the principal law by inserting “Ika” after the word “Isoko” in the interpretation of ethnic nationalities goes against the definition provided in the Delta State Gazette, which stated that ethnic nationalities in the state include Ijaws, Itsekiris, Urhobos, Isokos and Ndokwas.
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According to Clark, the governor’s interpretation or definition of ethnic nationalities only includes Ika, his own ethnic nationality, while ignoring other ethnic nationalities in Delta North, such as Oshimili North and South, and Aniocha North and South.
He expressed concern that Okowa may reduce Warri to a deserted village, similar to what the state’s former governor, James Ibori, did to Sapele.
“It may be too late, but finally, I wish to again advise you not to reduce Warri to a deserted village as Chief Onanefe Ibori did to Sapele, as he removed most of the offices from Sapele to Oghara, his hometown. This is exactly what you are carrying out now,” he said.
“I can see you smiling at Alhaji Atiku Abubakar when you said that Owa-Alero was your humble small village and that it is now a big town. The question is, with whose money?”