Hon Ochor Christopher Ochor, the immediate Transition Chairman of Ukwuani Local Government Area of Delta State, a onetime Legislature representing Ukwuani at the State House of Assembly, a onetime special Adviser to the former governor of Delta state, Chief James Ibori, and Legislative Assistant to Senator Patrick Osakwe, is one of the Executive Directors at the Board of the Delta State Oil Producing Development Commission, (DESOPADEC), in charge of the Directorate of Social Services.
In a media chat with newsmen recently in his office in Warri, he talks on his new assignment as a member of the DESOPADEC Board, the mission of the new commission to fulfil the dreams of the oil producing areas, the present financial state of the state, and how the commission will be managed, and Okowa administration’s efforts to survive the tight financial situation in the state, and how the commission hopes to survive the financial meltdown.
In this new board with a new direction, what is the place of the Executive Director, Social Services in the day to day running of the commission?
By the new structure of DESOPADEC, my position in the NEW DESSOPADEC, is that of a managerial duty. The commission now have a Managing Director, and four Executive Directors, all members of the Board, along with a Chairman of the board and Commissioners representing the various ethnic nationalities within the oil producing communities.
In considering the Directorates, we have 1. The Directorate of Finance, 2. The Directorate of Research and Statistics, 3. The Directorate of Infrastructure, and 4. The Directorate of Social Services.
The Directorate of Social Services, which I am privileged to be the Executive Director, is a Directorate that stands out with many functions, which can be compared with the function of the management of groups of departments or ministries. This Directorate is saddled with functions of overseeing the commission’s involvement in the area of health, education, agriculture, environment, youth development, women and child development, and much more.
With this scope of social service, we also have the area of Community Development, Public Enlightenments, and Culture & Tourism.
From the foregoing, the Directorate has a lot of works under it, and demands much managerial attention, attention and focus to be able to deliver the best.
How will this new board be able to ensure that the people in the oil producing communities gets their due, taking into consideration the past experiences of the communities and lack of attention from the commission.
The members of the new board knows about the yearnings and complains of the people, and it was based on the agitations of the people that gave rise to the new DESOPADEC Bill which was the first bill, His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa sent to the State House of Assembly immediately he was sworn-in as the Executive Governor of Delta State on May, 29 2015.
At the swearing in he clearly said that this will be his direction on the commission, which is the designing, re-designing the structure, tailoring it towards the delivery format of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC), that is a management structure, and satisfying the expectation of the communities, which was tagged “The Bottom Up” approach.
This specifically means that issues and projects is going to be developed from the communities to the commission, for the commission to execute. These will be the ways to satisfy the expectation and answers to the yearnings of the people.
Based on these, I am charged up, to give the best to the people, by been focussed, have a listening ear so that a capable delivery can be achieved for the good of the communities and state from this Directorate.
Talking of having a Listening ear, how humble will you be to do that, knowing and the experience of the people on those that had been in this commission?
That aspect, I assure you is already part of the ingredients I had listed to survive and give the people the best services that will alleviate the needs of the people of our mandate areas.
One of the bad experiences the commission had been accused of is the issue of festival gifts, which often results to bad feelings among the people of the Host Communities. Your section is in charge of this, are we going to see the same pattern of services delivery that will cause bad feelings among the people or what?
One of the mandates of this commission is to work to build a credible commission that will serve the needs of the people, and remove hardship and difficult experiences from them. The past experience of gift of any kind to the people that will not bring a satisfying result is not what we intend doing. As we all know the government had said that the state is running a tight budgetary management now, and the commission being part of the state cannot say otherwise.
Yes, there may be such gifts, but I am assuring you that this board will do all that is possible to ensure equity in doing so, but when it comes to issues like this, we are already thinking of the very very less privileges in these communities. We want to give them the needed attention, as our attention and approach will go deep deep down to the real people.
How is the new board, specifically your Directorate hope to deliver on these promises, with the present financial state of Delta, based on drop in oil revenue?
We have decided to look at the budget and look at the very relevant projects. We are going to think towards investment, which is diversifying the investment so that profits generated from these investments will be what we can carry on with.
Again we must look at the relevance of each project, to the need of the community. Don’t forget we are talking of “Bottom Up” approach. To a larger extent, we will answer to the relevance of every project in reconciliation to the availability of funds.
The board had been concerned, and we had being doing something about it. Excessiveness has been cut-off, relevance is measured, approach is redirected, and to a large extent, the result is going to be optimal.
As full time members of the Board, how will the members tackle the many uncompleted projects of the commission?
I had said everything about this new approach will be based on relevance of the projects, and availability of funds. Yes, there are many uncompleted projects, we may not go into a new project, when some of the uncompleted projects is already 80 to 85 % completed. So in an area, it will be bad calculation to go into another project when the one there is remaining 15% to be completed.
The issue of the completed jobs is a serious concern among the board members and we are already doing something about it. Most especially when we look at the calibre of people, people with managerial and community experiences, we all know what it means when a project that was meant to serve a community is not completed as at when do. So what we are doing now is critical evaluation of the uncompleted projects in the commission. I tell you something, though I am not the Director of projects, but I am assuring you, that very soon many of these projects will be commissioned.
In the past there is always lack of human oriented projects, like the one that will assist the women in eking out a living. What will the members of this board thinking about this area?
As I said earlier, the people will be highly involved in deciding what they want. But one thing is clear, the DESOPADEC board is keying into the SMART agenda of the Okowa’s administration, to achieve prosperity for all Deltans. And we are set to achieve a human oriented programme, and the women will be highly carried along.
One thing I must assure you is that members of this board is highly knowledgeable of the need of these communities, but still we have to allow that bottom top principle for a better result.
What can you say about the Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa led government?
I would not like to access the government, because as you know, I had been and I am still part of the project. I would prefer others assessing us.
But in all, this government had been outstanding. This can be seen in the first action of presenting four bills to the state house of assembly immediately he was sworn in. In the appointments, it has all the LGA’s, well represented. Okowa had shown fairness in governance to all sections of the state in his appointments, let us just forget the criticisms.
This government had shown a remarkable sportsmanship in all area. The government and the DESOPADEC commission need prayers from Deltans to overcome the financial stress. This government met huge debts, bonds that were to expire last June, and the governor had to re-negotiate the deals to allow for extension time of payment.
Many things will be achieved by this government, what I will ask of Deltans, especially the oil producing communities, is to be patient with the government and the commission, there should be quality criticism, and a lot of prayers.