Members of the Urhobo ethnic nationality in the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC), have vowed to resist any exercise designed to victimize the Urhobos through selective screening.
They have called on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa not to allow the Urhobo Commissioners not to tarnish his good image.
Some staff of Urhobo extraction who spoke with our correspondent at DESOPADEC Zonal Office at Ujevwu, Udu Local Government Area, Delta State, venue of the aborted screening exercise for Urhobo Staff working in DESOPADEC headquarters in Warri posited, saying that they are not against any screening exercise aimed at detecting ghost workers in the commission but anything done otherwise.
The staff who pleaded not to be mentioned for fear of victimization, after the screening exercise was postponed over an alleged insecurity, told newsmen that the representatives are singing with the name of the Governor alleging that they were sent by Governor Okowa to carry out the exercise to reduce the numbers of Urhobos in the commission and make more money available to him for project execution.
Our findings revealed that the screening committee does not have the power to carry out the exercise as there was no board resolution on that, neither did the Managing Director give any directive to that effect.
The paper discovered to that the three Urhobo part time representatives are the ones carrying out the exercise which the law establishing the commission did not give them power for the day to day running of the affairs of DESOPADEC.
An insider in the commission revealed to the paper that they were doing the screening for selfish gain as it was gathered that one of the commissioners had announced in his church in Sapele for people to submit their particulars for an anticipated opening in DESOPADEC, wondering why such a commissioner should embark on such when they are crying of over bloated staff.
She stated that Urhobo ethnic nationality in DESOPADEC are not against any screening but are not comfortable with the sectional screening of only Urhobo staff by their part time representative, adding that if any screening must take place, let it be across board and approved by the Board of DESOPADEC.
She also condemned the act of removing the names of genuine staff of the commission with the sole aim to smuggle in fresh candidates whom according to the aggrieved staff, were coming from the commissioners who are carrying out the exercise. They noted that it was not in contest whether some staff were redundant, just as they blamed the leadership of the commission for the lapses in the agency.
But in a swift reaction, the Commissioner representing Ughelli South, Udu, Uvwie and Urhobos in Warri South Local Government Areas, Amos Itivwhe, said the exercise is not to witch hunt any staff but based on order from the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa to ascertain the authentic staff of the board against over bloated salary of the commission.
Continuing, Itivwhe told our correspondent on phone that the screening was being done in good fate, noting that it would afford them the opportunity to fish out ghost workers, those working in other agencies, those receiving salary in DESOPADEC but living abroad and other irregularities that have bedeviled the commission.
On the use of non-DESOPADEC staff for the exercise, he said that similar exercises were carried on before their tenure using staff of the agency but that such exercises were fraught with irregularities as according to him a group of cabals working in the commission would always find a way of favoring their clique.
On the issue of selective Urhobo screening, Itivwe stated that the exercise is all inclusive as other ethnic nationalities would soon embark on theirs.
He appealed to Urhobos in DESOPADEC to show understanding as they will stand to benefit at the end of the exercise.