On Monday, youths from Ilaje, in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State converged on the governor’s office, Alagbaka, the state capital to demand for the autonomy of the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas and Development Commission, OSOPADEC.
It was earlier reported how youths under the aegis of Ilaje Advancement Forum, IAF, stormed the governor’s office in their hundreds and barricaded the road leading to the governor’s office from the Shoprite end of the road as well from the CBN part of the road.
According to the youths who decried lack of developmental projects within their locality which they emphasized was under the mandate area of OSOPADEC, since the inception of Gov Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, they have been neglected.
Speaking on why they decided to occupy the governor’s office, one of the leaders of the group, Oyetoakin Akinjolire alleged that funds meant for the sole development of the mandate areas are being siphoned by the state government.
He also added that most communities in the riverine area are on the verge of extinction due to what he described as incessant sea incursion.
Some of the youths who were later dispersed with canisters of teargas by mobile policemen drafted from the Mopol 17 in Akure also accused the wife of the state governor, Betty Akeredolu of funding her pet projects with the resources of OSOPADEC.
They, however, berated Gov. Akeredolu for unleashing policemen on them after failing to attend to them.
Reacting to the allegations of the youth, the Chairman of OSOPADEC, Gbenga Edema stated 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 the handling of funds and issues that concern OSOPADEC than Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
“It is quite funny that somebody will be passing 2017 budget in 2019, at least we have three representatives at the House of Assembly, so I will say they don’t know what they are protesting about.
“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, there is a provision for supervision and control by the governor in the act.”
On the issue of diverting OSOPADEC fund to the office of Ondo State First Lady, Edema stated, “We only collaborated with her on one of her projects, Bemore, in which over 120 girls participated in the programme and were trained in different capacity building programmes like solar power assemblage, bead making and other things.
“It is also not true that the wife of the governor is taking funds from OSOPADEC”, he stated.
Edema said that the current government spent over N240 million every year on bursary for students of the mandate area, adding that no state government can single-handedly battle sea incursion without effort from the federal government.