OPEN LETTER TO THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, SEN DR IFEANYI ARTHUR OKOWA ON THE CREATION OF RIVERINE AREAS DEVELOPMENT AGENCY. DATED 20 MAY 2019.
Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa
PROPOSAL FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF A COASTAL AREAS DEVELOPMENT AGENCY, CADA
This proposal is a major demand earlier expressed in different fora by the people of riverine communities of Delta State on the dire need to establish an outfit, Coastal Areas Development Agency, CADA.
The specific purpose is for the State Government to allocate special funds to CADA to provide the needed development in the riverine area.
Riverside citizens love and cherish Delta state since creation from defunct Bendel State several years back and have been contributing their best to the socioeconomic, political and cultural development of the state.
The request for this very important agency, CADA, is on grounds that the riverine communities are also stakeholders in the speedy development of Delta State.
They are part of the vast majority of citizens in the state whose communities have suffered baffling neglect for years. The poor level of development in the riverine areas for decades has become a primary concern to many stakeholders.
Despite the development challenges encountered by riverine dwellers due to age-long neglect, the people are, however, happy that the state is growing in leaps and bounds.
Our position is that the State Government should urgently direct its attention to the vast riverine communities that host the oil companies in the state.
Without prejudice, we want the government to tackle the grave and utter neglect of the coastal communities, the main areas where government and IOCs extract crude oil.
For several decades, successive governments have promised to develop communities hosting oil exploration, but available records show infrastructural decay. They scarcely executed projects to benefit and develop the riverine communities.
Many factors are responsible for the poor standard of life and low level of infrastructural development in the riverine communities. One of them is the application of a general development formula of the Delta State Government to the riverine and other areas of the state.
It is no gainsaying the fact that the riverine communities are oil producing, and they require special attention. However, appropriation of funds has benefited the hinterland with little or no funds allocated for the development of riverine communities.
We are living witnesses to the series of agitations by the host communities, which assisted in drawing the attention of the Federal Government to their plights – granting of Amnesty and the creation of programmes to cater for the youths.
There is also the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, aimed at providing development for states within the oil rich region. The states include Delta, Edo, Ondo, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Imo and Cross Rivers.
Interestingly, we submit that, apart from the Amnesty programme put in place by the Federal Government, the development of the oil- rich riverine region has been very slow or non-existent
In Delta State, there is Delta State Oil Producing Areas Develoment Commission, DESOPADEC, created by the State Government. Largely, the agency has not reflected the yearnings of the riverine communities in terms of infrastructural development. To say the truth, riverine communities lack necessities of life, the people do not have a sense of belonging, and this ill treatment has been on for decades before the present administration.
There is the need to address this anomaly and provide a sense of belonging to the people that live in the creeks. The State Government can make life better for our people in the creeks through concerted and deliberate efforts.
This and more area what have led to the request from prominent sons and daughters of the riverine communities for the creation of Coastal Areas Development Agency, CADA
IMPORTANCE OF THE AGENCY:
The creation of CADA has become necessary, as the riverine communities have no particular agency responsible for their development.
The communities have their peculiarities and age-long customs, tradition and cultures, which help to promote unity among the people. They are resilient and hopeful that one day this narrative will change.
We, therefore, request from the State Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeayi Okowa, an urgent creation of Coastal Area Development Agency, CADA. The people believe strongly that such an agency will enhance the development of riverine communities in Delta State.
Coastal communities are the engine room of the economy of Delta State due to the revenue earnings despite the sorrowful state of development caused by age-long neglect.
OUR PRAYERS FOR AN AGENCY:
This application is an appeal, as earlier noted. The riverine communities are not benefiting enough from the immense revenue being generated to fund the state, Interestingly DESOPADEC, which was set up to address such development challenges in the neglected oil producing areas, has drifted off its course, as it now serves as an avenue for compensations for politicians who hold public offices in the state.
The request is that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the Delta State House of Assembly should add value to the lives of the people living in the riverine environment by urgently establishing the Coastal Areas Development Agency.
The coastal communities are the live-wire and resource-base of the state, but government channel billions of naira generated from the riverine environment to develop other areas, especially the hinterland.
There is the need for the creation of a special agency that would address the developmental deficits in the coastal area of the state.
If government creates CADA, it will present a developmental blueprint and practicable framework for restoring industry, infrastructure, trade and investment to the oil producing coastal communities of the State.
It is worthy of note that about 90% of the state’s revenue from oil and gas emanate from the riverine communities, therefore, they deserve special attention.
CADA is a key instrument that will transform the lives of riverine people and improve their living conditions. If the Okowa administration creates the much-desired CADA, it will remain novel and a hallmark achievement.
The Okowa government should prevail on the House of Assembly to support the quest for the CADA, as it remains a major request that will significantly transform the riverine communities.
ADVANTAGES OF A COASTAL AGENCY:
We conclude this proposal with the advantages of creating CADA as enumerated below:
1) It will help to trigger growth and fast-track development, create a sense of belonging within communities as stakeholders in the Delta State project.
2) It will help to bring the government of Delta State closer to the people. The distance as occasioned by the waterways, make them alienated from the government at the center.
3) The people will have a sense of belonging and see the funds allocated to develop their communities no matter how small, as significant.
4) It will correct wrong insinuations about the development funds from the State Government, as there will be no lies and unfounded stories since the communities will be partners in the activities of coastal development.
5) The creation of the Agency will further assist in the creation of jobs, as people from the environment will work as staff of the Agency.
6) The creation of CADA will also help to promote peace within the riverine communities and reduce conflicts with IOCs in the region.
7) It will also help to boost oil and gas production in the region. This will translate into a win-win situation for the Federal and State governments.
8) This noble gesture of creating an Agency for the riverine communities will forever be to the acclaim of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa administration. It will help to write the Governor’s names in gold in the hearts of Deltans, particularly those from coastal communities.
Finally, the creation of Coastal Area Development Agency is to complement Government’s efforts in terms of physical infrastructural and non-infrastructural development of the riverine people in the state
Comrade Mulade Sheriff
National Coordinator/ Sponsor for RIVERINE COMMUNITIES OF DELTA STATE
Cc: The Honourable Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly (DTHA) Asaba