Ondo youths barricade governor’s office, demand OSOPADEC autonomy
Protest politically-motivated, says commission’s chair
There was tension in Ondo State yesterday as aggrieved youths from Ilaje Local Council of the state protested and barricaded the governor’s office, leading to a gunshot on one of them who reportedly sustained minor injury.
The youths converged at the state capital, Akure, as early as 8:00 a.m. and marched through Shoprite and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), causing a lot of traffic gridlock from those areas to the governor’s office. They demanded financial and administrative autonomy for the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas and Development Commission (OSOPADEC), accusing the state government of diverting the money meant for the commission.
The protesters, under the aegis of Ilaje Advancement Forum (IAF), decried the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu-led administration of stifling the commission of funds, thereby causing abandonment and under-development of the mandate areas. Leading the protest, Mr. Oyetoakin Akinjolire, alleged that the funds meant for the sole development of the mandate areas were being siphoned by the state government.
Akinjolire added that most communities in the riverine areas, mainly Ilaje and Ese-Odo local councils, are on the verge of extinction due to what he described as incessant sea incursions. However, the OSOPADEC Chairman, Gbenga Edema, while reacting to the allegations, noted that the youths were being sponsored by aggrieved politicians in the state ahead of the governorship election coming up in the state in 2020.
According to him, “no government had been more transparent in handling funds and issues that concern OSOPADEC than Governor Akeredolu.“This is the first government that will be transparent on the issue of OSOPADEC.”
They are shouting autonomy, Akeredolu was not the one that created the commission, and there is a provision for supervision and control by the governor in the Act.”
It is also not true that the wife of the governor is taking funds from OSOPADEC, he said. He said that no state government could single-handedly battle sea incursion without support from the Federal Government, adding that the current government spends over N240 million yearly on bursary for students of the mandate area.
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