…DESOPADEC serving govt, politicians, not oil communities …Why Delta riverine communities want Coastal Areas Development Agency By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, Niger Delta NIGER-DELTA Activist and Coordinator of the Center for Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, Mr. Sheriff Mulade, has accused International Oil Companies, IOCs, of turning host communities in Niger Delta to supplicants and riding roughshod over State Governments in the oil region. Sheriff Mulade Mulade, whose Kokodiagbene community in Warri South-West Local Government has been embroiled in a running battle with Chevron for years over extension of electricity to the people with the state government intervening when the irate people laid siege to the company’s flow station, said the oil firms were intimidating the people.
The activist also knocked the state government, saying the Delta State Oil Producing Communities Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, which it established to cater for oil communities, has glided from its original objectives to executing the bidding of the state government and politicians, and not oil and gas-bearing communities.
He told Saturday Vanguard, “The issue of electricity in Kokodiagbene is still lying fallow after the promises and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the oil- rich riverside community. Since 1998, Chevron Nigeria Limited has taken advantage of the Delta State Government’s failure and connivance with security agents to intimidate her host community.” “It is rather unfortunate to observe that International Oil Companies, IOCs, in Nigeria dictate the pace for our government thereby reducing host communities, particularly in the Niger Delta to beggars in the oil and gas industry. “What we ask for is fairness and some measures of equity, which is not too much. Why should a small community be in darkness while in their very eyes, adjacent their environment, there is electricity 24 hours enjoyed by the oil company that generate gas from their land? It is really a shame. The idea of not having electricity in Kokodiagbene paints a picture of the serious inequality perpetuated by Chevron Nigeria Limited, which we consider as modern slavery. “We are trying to overcome the charade, while on their part; Chevron is working hard and hell-bent with maximum interest to enslave my people through the instrumentality of the government. We, on the other hand, are pained and have resolved to continue our request for assistance, some people may consider this as agitation for a common necessity, which is to light up Kokodiagnene. We will not relent until we are connected to the Chevron Nigeria Limited Flow Station, which is less than three kilometres from the town,” he asserted. On his grouse with DESOPADEC, Mulade, who called for the establishment of Coastal Areas Development Commission, CADA said “Let me be frank to state succinctly that DESOPADEC as many of us see it presently serves the government in power and our frontline politicians against the interest of oil producing communities.” His words: “From available information, the Board and Management of DESOPADEC deviated from its original vision and mission by engaging in elephant projects to impress the government, instead of building physical structures in the oil producing communities that need urgent development. Administrative imbalances, as well as misappropriation in the agency lowered its objectivity and functionality,” he added. Asked why the state government should duplicate DESOPADEC by setting up CADA, he asserted, “No, DESOPADEC is a far cry from CADA, their principles and thematic thrust are different. CADA is deeper and incisive; it gets into the fabrics of the basic reason of its creation. Its ideals, characteristics, principles and what it would solve are basic fundamentals of life, which are quite revealing.” Dismissing the contention that riverine communities were asking for too much with the demand for CADA, he said, “such insinuation and comparison with CADA may come up, especially when we want to be evasive of the needful. As stakeholders by virtue of being natives, we are very mindful of the sensitive nature of the riverine areas and so we weigh the odds in our desire to request what we envisage could fast track development. “ DESOPADEC is a generalized bull, but again its concept from originality has taken the backstage and if we interrogate the system more carefully, which the coastal communities have done, Delta people of which we are a part will lean credence to such request as it is clear to many that it has departed from the norms. “Even staff of the commission could attest that they are not happy, besides the commission is limited and its coverage defined, but CADA as conceptualized is for the generality of the coastal communities”, he said. We are not at war with govt Mulade however insisted that oil communities were not fighting the government of the day with its demand, explaining that, “across the globe, there is the prevalent request being reechoed in various governments and organizations or whatever institutions put in place to lead the people to implore the principles of equity, fairness and justice. When we look at happenings in the areas we refer to as coastal communities, sad enough, we realize that whatever style is adopted to pacify the people or make them live a good life appear to be nonexistent. Riverine communities bleed “The riverine communities bleed in so many respects and for such; we have continued to meet to seek a common ground where things that could bring good life would get closer to the people. In this wise, the government should see the dire need and unanimous request from the riverine communities in the creation of a common front which we call Coastal Areas Development Agency, CADA, Odeli commends Okowa, appeals for Tisun/koloko road construction(Opens in a new browser tab) “Our people are agitated due to long suffering and DESPADEC if I am correct had an original intention meant to develop oil producing, host and impacted communities. Not all coastal communities are oil- producing communities, but they generate revenue for the state government through agriculture and other economic activities, which they should recognize. “DESOPADEC cannot do the work of CADA because CADA as conceived is all encompassing and envisioned to bring the much neglected non-oil producing communities to limelight of infrastructural development. You see this new request can breed crisis for the government if the urgency it deserves is jettisoned and we progress in our former ways of doing things, as we can see that every moment our people are wiser for it,” he said.