The Delta State Chapter of Host Communities Oil and Gas, besieged the State House of Assembly complex, Asaba, Tuesday, in protest against the 2016 budget of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), frowning at the non-accountability of N16 billion in the 2015 budget of the commission.
The protesters who were led by its State Chairman, Dr Peter Egedegbe and National Coordinator, Prince Maikpobi Okareme, stormed the Assembly complex in over six buses at about 9:30am, said projects sited outside the oil and gas producing communities should be de-emphasized.
The people in a protest letter addressed to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, called for the “full implementation of the 2015 budget as passed, especially projects that have been designed for which tender documents have been prepared and ready for distribution”.
Stressing the need for higher provision for capital expenditure than recurrent, the protesters told the House to stop deliberation on the 2016 budget until the anomalies were attended to.
Alleging that the 2015 budget has not been fully implemented, they said; “all budget figures for 2015 budget were cleverly omitted to short change the host communities especially in the capital budget.”
Addressing the protesters, Chairman House Committee on DESOPADEC in the State House of Assembly, Chief Denis Omovie said the protest was premature, adding that the House was yet to look into the budget sent to it last week for necessary legislative action.
Omovie said; “a budget is an instrument of law that passes through a process and the 2016 DESOPADEC budget cannot be an exception”, stating that it was not the place of Host Communities to tell the House who to do its work.
He said; “DESOPADEC as an interventionist agency, every Deltan has an interest but most do so within the ambit of the law,” advising against putting the cart before the Horse”.
He however commended them for the protest and assured that the House would consider the interest of all stakeholders without neglecting the mandate of DESOPADEC.
It would be recalled that the Itsekiri Hostcom had last week Wednesday protested against the provision of N600 million security votes in the 2016 budget of the commission.