DESOPADEC Bill: The Ijaws Protest Against Marginalization

Protesting Ijaw Nationality During the Recent Hearing of the DESOPADEC Amendment Bill

 

  • Ughelli South Asks for Fairness and Equality in the Proposed Amendment.

By Oye Chijioke.
The proposed amendment of the Oil Producing Area Communities Bill in Delta State had attracted a lot of negative reactions from host communities as witnessed in the recent public hearing at the State House of Assembly Chamber in Asaba.20150716_143102
The Chambers of the Delta State House of Assembly During the Hearing.

During the hearing, the  Ijaw nationality organized a protest, accusing the state government of marginalization. Prior to the public hearing on the amendment of the DESOPADEC bill, Police was deployed at the Assembly complex to avoid sudden break of law and order while the hearing lasted, as the hearing witnessed the beaten up of Hon. Benjamin Eweta and his clothes torned. 20150716_101504
Hon Benjamin Eweta after the Brawl at the State House of Assembly Complex During the DESOPADEC Bill Hearing

According to Hon Eweta, he said he was invited to the hearing, and as he was trying to write down his name, “One Hon. Peter Ogedegbe who claim to be the state chairman of the Host Communities, and his cohorts ordered him to go out of the press center, this to him was orchestrated to deprive them the opportunity to submit their suggestions to the house.20150716_101000
Hon Peter Ogedegbe, The State HOSTCOM Chairman at the Hearing.

Mr Eweta told reporters that there was an injunction from the court, stopping the public hearing that the status quo remains the same until the court determine the case. He therefore appealed to legislatures to ensure that justice takes place that they must obey the rules and laws, in the country, and the state government should throw the bill away because it’s causing serious havoc that may lead to communal crisis, he said that the bill did not carry the interest of the Host communities.
Meanwhile, Hon. Peter Ogedegbe disclosed to newsmen that when the tenure of Benjamin Ewata finished, he opted for another tenure which he took them to court, the court refused to grant him his request based on the fact that they are executives of the new Hostcom, he cannot be parading himself as a chairman. He said that trouble started when instruction was passed that chairmen of HOSTCOM should submit their names, “as I was writing my name, he also came to write, and he was told not to write as the state chairman, and that was what led to brawl at the assembly premises which was caused by the group loyal to Hon Benjamin Eweta.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the ad hoc committee on the amendment of the DESOPADEC bill Hon.Dennis Omovie had said that the factions in the body of the host communities will have negative effects on Hostcom, as it will cause the communities not to benefit the dividends of the bill, he therefore called on all parties to exercise restraint and see that the needed restructuring is done which will ensure that all host communities benefits from the bill, he assured Deltans that by “August 2015 the bill will be ready and passed into law, as the crisis will not stop the amendment exercise provided it’s the peoples will”. He said

Hon Omovie also while reacting to the protest by the Ijaws’s said that, that it also showed that the people are becoming aware of their environment and the government of today cannot do otherwise than to move with the communities to be responsive with the reactions of the people since what is attractive is the lives of the people, “Therefore we are not surprised with the response of the people, because in the next five years, if there is amendment of such bill, people will still react the same because no one wants to sleep over his right”. He concluded.

Ughelli South Asks for Fairness and Equality in the Proposed Amendment.

Meanwhile, the secretary of the Oil and Gas producing communities in Ughelli south local government area, Chief S.O.Ekatu during the hearing said that the creation of DESOPADEC by the past government of Chief Onanefe Ibori was meant to serve and “Ameliorate the degraded social economic conditions caused by the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas production on the impacted communities in Delta state, and it is right to always remember that, if the bill is to be amended”. He said.
According to him, Ughelli south Hostcom produces oil and gas in OML 30, 34 and 65,adding that Otorogun gas plant is the largest gas plant in Africa, the secretary stated this at the public hearing of the adhoc committee on the amendment of DESOPADEC bill in the state house of assembly complex.
However, Ekatu suggested that the amendment should follow due process and should include to replace the word “Executive Chairman” and with Managing Director and should also have an Executive Secretary.
He therefore said that the stand of the Urhobo nation is to see in the amendment bill impacts on the Host communities and to ensure that the commission consists of Managing Director, Executive Directorate, with representatives from each of the oil and gas ethnic nationalities in the state and two ex-official to represent the ministry of finance and ministries of economic planning respectively.
Chief Ekatu further suggested that for fairness and equality two oil and gas producing communities should be represented by one representative, adding that the Ughelli people will not accept the idea that oil and gas production quatum is based on derivation fund based on the sharing formula by the federal government.