Itsekiri youths threaten shutdown of DESOPADEC offices, facilities
ACTIVITIES at the Warri head office of Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) were yesterday paralysed for several hours by hundreds of irate Itsekiri youths who threatened to shut down all offices of the interventionist agency in their area within 24 hours if their demands remain unmet.
The protesters, who vented their spleen under the aegis of Itsekiri Joint Action Group (IJAG), sealed the entrance to the office complex and restricted movement of workers, alleging that the agency was marginalising the ethnic group.
They brandished placards with various inscriptions like “Don’t rob Peter to Pay Paul,” “DESOPADEC is not a population commission,” “We demand for 100% derivation funding of DESOPADEC,” “Revamp the scholarship for our students” among others.
Coordinator the group, Comrade Prince Omagbemi Harry Tuoyo, while accusing the board of marginalising Itsekiris, gave it 24 hours to consider their plight or risk shutdown of the agency’s offices and facilities.
“Our next line of action is that even if the state governor refuses to call them to order, we will shut down the riverine area in Benin and Delta axis. We give them 24 hours from now,” he warned.
Tuoyo said besides Itsekiri staff that were allegedly being sidelined on the board, his group was also not being carried along, noting that the protest was last resort after all efforts to meet with the agency’s Managing Director and board, including the Itsekiri representative, Chief Thomas Ereyitom, failed.
“There is the issue of staff marginalisation. Based on quantum, we are being marginalised and our group has not been attended to.
We have not gotten our mandate. DESOPADEC is not a population commission. We are here to see the chairman and the board to agree.”
Also, IJAG’s secretary, Gift Iwere Odibiken, said over 6000 Itsekiri graduates were roaming the streets while they had DESOPADEC right in their back yard.
“We cannot be in the middle of the sea and allow soap to enter our eyes. DESOPADEC is not set up based on population or local government. It was based on production quantum which placed the Itsekiris at 29 per cent over other ethnic nationalities,” he said.