Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has charged the newly constituted Board of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC) to allow communities decide projects of their choice.

Okowa who gave the charge on Friday while inaugurating the Chairman and members of the Board in Asaba said their appointments were well-deserved.

Members of the newly constituted Board are
Olorogun John Nani, Chairman; Chief Festus Ochonogor, Managing Director; Mr. Efele Eyewu Nicholas, Executive Director; Mr. Favour Izoukumor, Executive Director; Chief Taleb A. O. Tebite, Executive Director and Mr. Oghenekome Okpobor, Executive Director.

Other members of the Board are Chief Julius Egbedi; Mr. Sylvester Ovbije; Mr. Goru Jonathan Oghenekaro; Mr. Azuka Enebeli; Dr. Charles Olisa; Mrs. Cordelia N. Anyangwu; Mr. Sonny Ofe; Chief Victor Egbo and Mr. Spencer Okpoye.

He said the new Board was a good blend of youth and experience, saying it is gratifying to note that the members are grassroots politicians who have served our party and the government in various capacities.

He advised the Board to consult widely with communities to ensure that their needs were met.

“I advise that you adopt a bottom-up approach when it comes to the nature and choice of projects that should be embarked upon; involving the host communities in your decision-making process is imperative to avoid contention and distrust.

“In this regard, the charge I gave to the previous Board is worth restating here. There must be specificity in planning; projects must be fit-to-purpose. They should be conceived based on real, not felt, needs.

“The communities should determine the projects they want in their areas. Commissioners are to draw up the project needs and environmental concerns of their communities and present to the Board for consideration, approval, and execution.

“This governance paradigm must be complemented with strategic thinking, prudent spending, and stringent projects execution.

“It is important that you hold regular stakeholder meetings as a way of getting valuable feedback on your operations and performance.

“You must also embrace effective communication as an indispensable tool of management. Let the people know what you are doing, explain the rationale to them, and ensure that you are properly understood.

“Your appointments are not only based on merit and competence, they are also in recognition of your consistency, faith, and belief in our vision for a Stronger Delta. I trust that you will continue to do us proud in this new assignment.”

He expressed appreciation to the immediate past Board led by Hon. Michael Diden saying they performed creditably in the provision of community projects such as roads, classroom blocks, markets, and other physical infrastructure to host communitiies.

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He lauded the Commission for its Skills Acquisition programme which had provided relevant training and empowerment for Youths of oil producing communities in the state.

“The icing on the cake for me was the establishment of the DESOPADEC Skills Academy, in line with the administration’s youth entrepreneurship development programmes.

“Through the Academy, the agency was able to train and empower many of our youths to become self-employed and wealth creators. Once again, I convey my pleasure and appreciation to the old Board.

“The phenomenal success of DESOPADEC in the last eight years owes largely to the new corporate governance structure that we put in place on assumption of office in 2015.

“By amending the law establishing the agency, we created five new directorates to be headed by Executive Directors, in addition to the Managing Director, to ensure that the organization is managed in line with global best practices, as opposed to the pre-2015 arrangement where the Executive Chairman operated more like a Sole Administrator.

“The new structure was initially greeted with protests and skepticism but today we can all reap the benefits of the restructuring.”

He expressed optimism that the new board would surpass the achievements of their predecessors given their wealth of experience both in the private and public sector.

“Given the antecedents of the members of the new Board, I am confident that you will not only consolidate on the current achievements but will also chart new territories and break new grounds.

“That is the only way you can justify the confidence that has been reposed in you. Thankfully, the Chairman of the new Board, Olorogun John Nani was in the old Board, which guarantees know-how and continuity.

“I charge you be to be mindful of the weight of responsibility that lies on your shoulders with this appointment. It is a call to higher service. For you to succeed you must shun in-fighting, nepotism, and greed. I urge you to embrace the time-tested principles of team work, transparency, and collective responsibility.

“This is imperative for the synergy essential for the stability of the organisation, long-term socio-economic development, and the general well-being of the people you have been called to serve.”

He urged all stakeholders, especially the youth, in the host communities to give the new Board a chance to succeed in their quest to accelerate development in our oil-producing communities.

“Let me once again emphasise that no meaningful development can take place in the absence of peace. I, therefore, urge all to refrain from actions and utterances capable of breaching the peace in our communities.” Okowa stated.

Responding on behalf of the Board, Chief Nani thanked the Governor for finding them worthy to serve assuring that they would work for the overall interest of the state and the oil-producing communities.