The Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress has accused the state government of misappropriating N48.6bn.
This figure, the party said, represents 50 per cent of the 13 per cent allocation from the Federal Government for the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission between May 2015 and November 2016.
The party also asked the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, to clear the air on an allegation that one of the South-South governors diverted a $10m bailout from the Federal Government.
It added that an earlier explanation which exonerated the governor was “laughable.”
A statement on Friday by the party’s acting Publicity Secretary, Leonard Obibi, said, “Such misappropriation is an act of impunity, discrimination, injustice and an exploitation of the wealth of the oil-producing areas of Delta State.
“Actions like this create the clear evidence of negligence and government insensitivity that have been the principal cause of crisis in the Niger Delta region for decades.
“It is also quite striking that at the outset of the Okowa-led administration, the law setting up DESOPADEC was very swiftly amended, and it may have been ‘customised’ in a manner that has made it possible for Okowa to render the commission comatose. It is disappointing that Okowa has now reduced activities at the commission to mere payment of staff salaries.”
The party said, “Okowa must tell Deltans how he has expended the huge bailout funds from the Federal Government. Governor Okowa is very much aware that local government personnel in the state are still being owed salaries in excess of seven months, with some for up to 10 months. Primary school teachers are also being owed a minimum of three months salaries.
“The nonpayment of these hardworking Deltans, even when funds had been provided by the Federal Government, is a travesty of good governance and reveals that he [Okowa] is deficient in his responsibility to the people.”
Responding to the allegation, Okowa’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said the state governor would not waste his “precious” time replying to lies, stressing that the government would never be distracted in its effort to develop the state.
He said, “Anybody demanding explanation on that issue, to say the least, is the most uncharitable (person) because people know that kind of a thing cannot happen in this era. Who will lose that kind of money? Does the Okowa you know look like a womaniser? If that is what they think, that is not the stuff Okowa is made of.
“Okowa’s business is to govern the whole of Delta State and avoid distraction. There is no issue in this case and we won’t bother ourselves with this cheap blackmail. We have told them what the bailout was used for. Are they telling us that they were in London when we explained? The funds were used for developments in the local government areas and the state capital.
“If they are serious, let them come and look at the books. We have nothing to hide. Their [APC’s] intention is to distract us, but we are not going to fall for it. We won’t reply to the propaganda of the APC. They (APC members) are merely seeking attention as 2019 draws near.”