A coalition of Civil Society Organisations has applauded the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, for outstanding performance in the provision of infrastructure and social amenities for the communities and peoples of its mandate areas.
Leaders and members of the coalition who had earlier visited various projects of the commission on a verification and evaluation tour to mark the 2022 Delta State Civil Society Day held on Wednesday, December 14, expressed surprise at the quantum and quality of DESOPADEC projects they saw across the state and commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the Managing Director/Chief Executive of the commission, Bashorun Askia Ogieh, for their vision and commitment to the provision of multi sectorial facilities, ranging from health to education, housing, transportation, electrification, water and more in rural, riverine and urban communities in the oil producing areas.
Their satisfaction culminated in the presentation of an Award of Excellence to Askia Ogieh on Thursday to round off the Civil Society Day celebrations.
Speaking at the occasion, Ambassador Ibrahim Waiya, the Chairman of Kano Chapter and also leader of the Northern coalition, praised Ogieh not only for the delivery of the projects and programmes but also for conforming with the demand of Open Government Partnership and Proactive Disclosure.
“We have always talked about 13% Derivation and how it is managed by the various state governments. I never knew that there was an agency in Delta which manages the application of the fund for the benefit of the people. We went into the rivers to find out for ourselves and I was pleasantly surprised with the projects we visited. We saw numerous roads, health, schools and housing projects. I was especially amazed by what DESOPADEC has done at Ogulagha and Okubo-Zion. We met a standard and well equipped, well supplied Cottage Health facility complete with electricity, water treatment plant and residential quarters for doctors and nurses. The natives are very happy about it and they told us that the facility even serves people from Bayelsa.
“The Model Secondary School we saw at Ogulagha is of such standard that is not even available even in the big cities. It is complete with an ultra modern, fully furnished boarding house, comfortable classrooms, fully equipped laboratories, dinning hall, common rooms and luxury staff room.”
Also speaking on their findings, the National Secretary of the coalition, Comrade Fidelis Nweke, he was particularly stunned by the development of a twin city at Oboghoro and Utonlila, about one hour thirty minutes boat ride from Koko in Warri North.
“One can only imagine the vision that drove that project and the cost involved. We were marvelled to see the two new towns built on the river. They were developed on reclaimed swamp by the river bank, connected by a bridge and complete with concrete roads, electrification scheme, water scheme, a full boarding school and houses for the natives. That project gives life to the people as much as it is in the cities and surely goes to check the incidence of rural urban drift.
“We also saw the floating market at Ugheye with lock up stores, stalls, water scheme, jetty, electricity and many more.”
Reacting on the projects and programmes, the leader of the Bauchi State Civil Society community, Alhaji Abubakar Billy Tafawa Balewa (grandson of Nigeria’s former Prime Minister) who was also part of the tour, said Governor Okowa has shown capacity for great leadership with the excellent projects and application of the 13% Derivation fund, but regretted that he does not blow his trumpet.
“I have seen that Okowa is a silent achiever who does not blow his own trumpet. The projects we have seen far surpass the ones of those who are constantly on the media. In the upland areas we saw the Corpers Lodge at Osubi, the Urhobo Cultural House, the Isoko Unity House, high standard schools at Okuovo, Olomoro and Uzere, the Ibrede Ofagbe Road in Ndokwa. In fact, I cannot count them all. I think it is now our responsibility to blow Okowa’s trumpet for him. His performance gives assurance that when elected with Atiku Abubakar as President, Nigeria will better.”
Responding to the commendations and award by the Civil Society leaders, Askia Ogieh disclosed that he is driven by the vision and commitment of Governor Okowa for the betterment of the lot of the people.
He said that the delegation only saw a tiny fragment of DESOPADEC projects. Apart from the infrastructures, he disclosed that the commission runs a special purpose skills acquisition and empowerment programme, the DESOPADEC Skills Academy, which has helped to build young persons in various vocations and entrepreneurship.
“What is even more important is our investments in peace building. This has helped to ensure security in the oil producing areas, allowed for increased production and corresponding revenue to the nation and the state.”
The leader of the Delta State Chapter of the coalition, Hon Rex Anighoro, who invited the Civil Society leaders as guests to join in the Delta Civil Society Day event said the initiative was for the Civil Society in Nigeria to come and see for themselves what Governor Okowa has done in Delta through DESOPADEC.