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The Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) has called for a review of the quantum production of oil in Delta State, as a measure to end the shortchanging of the Urhobo nation as an oil producing area.
The umbrella socio-cultural union of the Urhobo in Delta Central of Delta state, made he call on Wednesday, 23/5/2018, when its President General, Olorogun Moses Taiga led the executive members on a courtesy visit to Government House, Asaba, where they had audience with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
Taiga, while noting that the last review of the Quantum production of Oil in the State was done in 2008 said: “Contrary to the Law establishing the Commission, for some years now, the verification/review of Oil and Gas Production figures (Quantum production of Oil) in the State is not carried out annually. This is grossly to Urhobo disadvantage.”
He observed that the Urhobo nation produces more oil than the other oil producing districts, and wondered why they should be short-changed.
Taiga submitted: “The Quantum concept of sharing among ethnic nationalities, we, the Urhobo Nation, understand, calls for annual review, according to the State’s Law establishing the body. The last such review was in 2008. We call on the Governor to review the Quantum, and henceforth annually.”
He continued: “Contrary to the Law establishing the Commission, for some years now, the verification/review of Oil and Gas Production figures (Quantum production of Oil) in the State is not carried out annually. This is grossly to Urhobo disadvantage.
“There is a central expenditure from which payments are made to the ethnic nationalities. However, in disbursing funds from this Central Expenditure, the Urhobo Nation is ignored, and/or shortchanged, in the payment of the following:
“Pipelines Security: N100m (One Hundred million naira) is deducted from the central expenditure monthly and shared, exclusively, to the Itsekiri (N50m) and Ijaw (N50m) nationalities. The Urhobo, Isoko and Ndokwa get nothing, and this is in spite of the many oil pipelines crisscrossing Urhobo Land.
“Waterways and Inland Security: Personnel of the State’s Waterways Security Committee (mainly Ijaw and Itsekiri youths) are on the payroll of DESOPADEC. They get monthly payments and are treated like staff of the Commission.
“However, it is claimed that some Urhobo youths are beneficiaries of this monthly payment from DESOPADEC. If true, what, then, is the number of Urhobo youths in these security outfits? What are their identities? How are they paid? How much do they receive?
“DESOPADEC’s Monthly payment of N10m to oil producing ethnic nationalities in the three Senatorial Districts;
Delta South = N30m (N10m each for Ijaw, Isoko, Itsekiri)
Delta North = N10m
Delta Central = N10m.”
Olorogun Taiga also pointed out that from the disbursements, it could be seen that the Itsekiri, which shares Warri South LGA with Ijaw and Urhobo; Warri Southwest and Warri North LGAs with the Ijaw (making one and half) gets N10m.
“The Ijaws, who occupy Bomadi and Burutu LGAs and partly in Warri South get N10m; the Isoko with Isoko North & Isoko South LGAS exclusively their home gets N10million, and so also, the Ndokwa nation, which has three LGAs are given N10million. The Urhobo Ethnic Nationality, which has eight LGAs exclusively theirs, plus Urhobos in Warri South and Patani LGAs gets N10million. What an unfair treatment?”
In the area of community relations, the UPU president General argued also that during the Christmas season of December 2016, that in spite of its huge size, Delta Central (home of the Urhobo people and the majority ethnic group in the state) was given N10million; same as other oil producing ethnic nationalities.
“It is noteworthy to mention that the number of registered voters in Delta Central is more than that of the Isoko, Ijaw and Itsekiri put together. In an ideal, just and fair situation, the Urhobo Nation with eight large LGAs, plus Urhobos in Warri and Patani LGAs, should get not less than N50m from the Central purse. It is the height of injustice and disrespect that Urhobo gets same N10m as other ethnic nationalities that are having 1-3 LGAs,” Taiga said.
He remonstrated again, arguing: “From records, the State Government (under former Governor Uduaghan) gave a Toyota Prado Jeep to each leader of the Oil Producing Ethnic Nationalities, and approved the sum of N2m on monthly basis, from DESOPADEC’s purse. Umbrella Unions also received funds from Government. There is no record that Urhobo was a recipient of this largesse.
“Sometimes this year, Governor Okowa, during a meeting with leaders of the Itsekiri, Isoko and Ijaw (who demanded that as leaders of oil producing ethnic groups they should be treated specially) approved the monthly payment of N1m to umbrella unions by DESOPADEC. Again, no such payment has been given to the umbrella union of Urhobo ethnic nationality.
” The Urhobo Nation is exclusively a Senatorial District. It is made up of Eight LGAs, which are exclusively occupied by Urhobos. Urhobos also constitute significant population of Warri South and Patani LGAs. On the other hand, Delta South Senatorial District serves three ethnic Nationalities; Ijaw, Isoko & Itsekiri.
“When one sums up what the Ijaw and Itsekiri (who are part occupiers of Delta South, and have lesser LGAs) receive from DESOPADEC, what is arrived at is a figure far and above that of Urhobo who are sole occupiers of Delta Central Senatorial District, with its eight LGAs.
“It is beyond doubt that Urhobo produces more oil in the State. Since the establishment of DESOPADEC, it has not been established that the Itsekiri or Ijaw produces more oil than the Urhobo Nation. Why then the unfair treatment? Quantum production must be reviewed to determine oil production quota of each ethnic nationalities? Taiga asked.
Olorogun Taiga had earlier thanked Governor Okowa for gracing the last Annual Urhobo National Day Conference as Guest of Honour, and for launching the Urhobo Language Curriculum for Primary and Secondary Schools.
“We thank you again for the wonderful offer to construct/re-construct this building. It is the pride of the Urhobo Nation. We, the UPU Executive, ask you to give the contract to us to award to a contractor of our choice, and ensure its proper supervision. We would like to complete this structure, if possible, before the next general elections. The entire Urhobo Nation will be grateful,” Taiga pleaded.
While listing some of the development projects executed by the Governor Okowa’s administration in Urhoboland, Delta Central Senatorial District, the President-General said it was resolved that they confer on him, the title of Ochuko Ru Urhobo (Helper of Urhobo Nation) on him.
Responding Governor Okowa urged President-Generals of ethnic nationalities to be involved in maintaining peace in their areas to provide the enabling environment for investments to thrive.
“We as a government definitely understand the importance of the Urhobo nation in the state and I believe that we will continue to accord respect to them and to work with the UPU to ensure the needed partnership just as we will continue to work with other ethnic nationalities and their leaderships to ensure greater peace and unity in our state,” the Governor said, adding, “we are very much aware of the warm relationships that we keep as a state with all ethnic nationalities because it is better for us as a people and as a state, once there is peace we are definitely going to have greater resources and also greater development including attracting investors to our dear state.”
He continued, “I want to appreciate the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) for your support in supporting this administration, particularly in the area of helping to organize our communities to ensure that we live in a very peaceful atmosphere; I believe that the Urhobo nation has done so well in achieving that and we have not had any great challenges apart from the land issue concerning Aladja and Ogbe-Ijaw communities which is being resolved.”
“We want to also take note of the attendance of the Urhobo national day; I am glad that we have such an event because it helps us as a state to communicate with our people as part of the partnership building, because every Deltan should participate in governance and the more we involve the people in the processes of governance the more we will be able to receive their views and be able to pass information to them and the better it will be for us as a state,” Governor Okowa stated, adding, “when people are well informed, the wrong news will actually be reduced to the barest minimum.”
The Governor who thanked the UPU for bestowing on him the title, Ochuko Ru Urhobo (Helper to Urhobo Nation), emphasized that it was important for Deltans to be well informed about the activities of government, disclosing, “that is why you will also find that in the course of time we have been going on town hall meetings with our people in various local government areas, stakeholder’s meetings and we have realized that it is something we need to continue because, the interactive sessions with our people has helped us to build greater confidence and greater partnerships, and I will continue to urge other government functionaries to try to cascade this town hall meetings down to the various wards and communities to build greater confidence and partnership between government and the people.”