24 February 2012
CHIEF Wellington Okirika, the pioneer chairman of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, is an old bird in the struggle for better deal for oil communities in the Niger-Delta region and that is what earned him the sobriquet, Mr. 13 per cent derivation fund and Mr. Oil Commission. In this interview, he spoke on the issues pertaining to his stewardship and the present affairs of the petroleum industry. Excerpts:
You are popularly known as ‘Mr. 13 per cent derivation fund’ and ‘Mr. Oil Commission’, how did the appellation come?
Why I am called 13 per cent derivation fund is because of the role I played in the advocacy for the actualization of the 13 per cent derivation fund ...
The communities came together, the traditional rulers, elders, men and women, and the mantle fell on me to lead the delegation at various times to the Constitutional Conference in 1995 and at the end of the day, we got 13 per cent approved by the then Head of State, but it was never implemented until the civilian regime came into place.
So, those, who are implementing the 13 per cent derivation fund, the governors and all of them were not part of the struggle for it. The money was meant to be given to the people directly through the oil commission for the management of their lives, but politicians came and hijacked this money.
Only a few governors then, among them Chief James Ibori of Delta state took the bull by the horn. There was also a creation in Ondo land,
Edo and Imo, now in Abia, but the main core producing states like Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom have refused to create this oil commission.