MANAGING Director of the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, Bashorun Askia Ogieh, has debunked reports that the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa is interfering with the running of the commission.

The DESOPADEC boss made the disclosure while speaking during the launch of the matriculation ceremony for 160 trainees of the commission’s Skill Academy for unemployed youths from oil bearing communities.

He further stressed that as an interventionist agency, DESOPADEC is diligently implementing its mandate to change the socio-economic development of host communities within the mandate areas of the commission.

In his remarks at the event, he said: “I wish to briefly address an unsavoury issue that crept up recently. Some people have been promoting false and mischievous narratives on the management of the income accruing to Delta State under the derivation principle.

“Let me make it clear that DESOPADEC is the product of an act of parliament, having been passed into law by the Delta State House of Assembly under the administration of His Excellency, Chief James Ibori.

“The provisions of the DESOPADEC Act have been diligently implemented over the years. Under His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, our governor, there has been no interference on the running of DESOPADEC.”

Describing the launch of the academy as unprecedent in the history of the commission, Askia stated further that the programme is designed to tackle rising unemployment and promote entrepreneurial spirit among youths in its mandate area.

He said: “At DESOPADEC, we have always believed that we can provide our willing, teeming youths the oyster that can drain them from the space of helplessness, strongly convinced that entrepreneurship is the antidote to unemployment. This Academy is therefore one of our major pillars designed to deliver our low hanging fruits.

“Today is the beginning of one of our major intervention measures to address a critical issue that plagues not only our youth in Delta State, but the entire country. We are blessed with a large pool of educated and energetic young men and women. However, without technical skills in an increasingly competitive world, many of our youth have been left jobless.”

On his part, Governor Okowa represented by his deputy, Kingsley Otuaro, appealed to youths to acquire skills that will make them entrepreneurs and as a result, free the Nigerian society of crime and strife.

He also commended the commission for the initiative, stressing that the programme is in line with the human capital development of the Governor Okowa’s administration.

He said: “We knew that if we don’t take our wards, our children off the street, making them meaningful in the society, so that they can put food on their table and on the table of their loved ones, then we have only succeeded in creating a society that is laden with criminality and unrest.

“When we did all that we did at the state level, we instructed the ministries, departments and agencies to identify with what we are doing. And of course, DESOPADEC is just doing what they are supposed to do, following that trajectory of the state government.

“The success of this programme, you being the pioneer students, will encourage DESOPADEC to carry on this skill acquisition training for your brothers and sisters who are not part of this training now. I want to encourage all the matriculants that the Delta State Government is expecting so much from you.”