Ben Dunno, Warri
Indigenes of Diebiri community in Warri South West council of Delta State, have stopped oil exploitation at the Batan flow station in their area over an alleged marginalisation in political appointment by the state government
Specifically, the people were demanding a commissioner position in the board of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), the state interventionist agency.
Irate community members numbering over 150, stormed the flow station demanding that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa reversed the commissioner slot given to another candidate from Gbaramatu kingdom, insisting that, that was not the name they submitted.
They vowed not to vacate the flow station until the governor rescinded his decision and gave the DESOPADEC commissionership slot to them.
The councillor representing Batan community, Frank Pukon, who spoke on behalf of the community said their rights had been trampled on by the state governor,
According to him, “when DESOPADEC was created, we had a rotational policy. Ogulagha has 19%, Gbaramatu has 17%, Egbema has 13, Diebiri has 11%, Idunu has 9%, Kor has 4%.
“The pioneer chairman was from Ogulagha. Okowa amended the board and created additional offices on the board. As a result of this, the executive director of the board was created and given to Pastor Philip Gbesin. It’s a clear fact that the next commissioner of the board should come from Diebiri and not Gbaramatu.”
He said it was surprising that the person that was nominated from the kingdom was replaced with another person from Gbaramatu kingdom, a situation he said would not be accepted by the Diebiri people.
Pukon said unless their candidate’s name which they submitted to the governor was reinstalled , they would continue to occupy the flow station.
Michael Douglas, the governor, Governing Council Chairman of Diebiri kingdom said the shutting down of the flow station was to draw the attention of the governor to their plight and to let him know that they are oil an producing community and stakeholders in the country.
“The DESOPADEC commissioner slot is our right and until the state government gives us what rightfully belonged to us, we are not going to leave this place,” Douglas said.
Also the youth president of Diebiri community, Godwin Epredi, said: “We are not happy with what is going because the DESOPADEC commissioner slot was supposed to be given to Diebiri people. But to our chagrin, before we knew it, they gave it Gbaramatu people. We will not take this.”
At the time of filing this report, the flow station was shut down and workers forced to vacate.