The Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) is being weighed down by a multibillion Naira debt, barely two years after Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan reconstituted the board of the commission.
The Tide’s source reliably gathered that Uduaghan has already taken over direct supervision of the board, ostensibly to avert the commission being immersed in further debt.
But the governor’s intervention failed to stop workers of the commission from embarking on a peaceful protest on Monday to demand regular salary and other fringe benefits and entitlements due them.
The Protesters temporarlly disrupted activities at the commission’s office on Esisi Road, Warri on Monday.
They expressed dissatisfaction that only the top management staff were getting their entitlements on a regular basis.
Although the true state of the commission’s indebtedness to contractors and consultants was being guarded by its top officials, our correspondent learnt that the commission’s share of the 13 percent derivation fund is now barely enough to keep it afloat.
It would be recalled that the law setting up the commission stipulated that 50 per cent of derivation fund be set aside for the development of the oil producing communities based on their production quota.
Nevertheless, The Tide’s source’s investigation showed that the Chief Walington Okirika-led board of DESOPADEC spends a larger percentage of the fund accruing to it on overhead expenses than on capital projects.
Specifically, it was gathered that the commission owes some highbrow hotels in the state huge sums of money in unpaid bills over the past few months.
The debt, it was gathered was incurred by some top members of the board and their spouses. Checks by our correspondent revealed that DESOPADEC’s financial crisis reached its peak a few months ago when it was unable to pay its over bloated workforce, some of whom were owed arrears of several months.
Worried by the unsavoury development at the interventionist agency of the state government, Governor Uduaghan demanded greater supervision of the board recently and ordered a reduction of the workforce.
Although no top member of management of the commission was available for comment when our correspondent visited DESOPADEC on Sunday, a source who craved anonymity, blamed the fate of the commission on members of the PDP in the state.
“They usually bombarded the chairman with demands for cash and contracts and other entitlements. They would come to town and compel DESOPADEC to pick up their hotel bills. When they are leaving they would ask for huge sums of money, our source added.