Youths from Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State have on Monday shut down the government office in Akure as they protested an alleged diversion of funds meant for the development of the coastal area by the Governor Rotimi Akeredolu administration.
The youths also blocked the access road to Alagbaka governor’s office to prevent workers from gaining access into the building.
The youths, who carried placards with various inscriptions, claimed they were protesting lack of autonomy for the Ondo State Oil Producing Development Area to enable it to implement its mandate of developing the area.
Some of the inscriptions on their placards included “OSOPADEC financial autonomy is a goal”, “OSOPADEC 40% can build roads”, “OSOPADEC autonomy is a must”, “OSOPADEC should stop scamming us” and “OSOPADEC must be useful.”
Ojajuni Olaleye, one of the protesting youths, said sea incursion had taken over major parts of Ilaje without government’s attention.
Olaleye also said the law that set up OSOPADEC strictly stated that the commission must be autonomous and accused the state government of taking over the administration of the commission.
Daudu Oluwajuwon, another protester, said the action was to ensure financial autonomy for OSOPADEC in order to improve the lives of the people in the area.
But Gbenga Edema, Chairman of OSOPADEC, in an interview said that the protesters were “sponsored’ by some politicians ahead of 2020 governorship election.”
Edema said no government had been more transparent in the handling of funds and issues that concern OSOPADEC than Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
The chairman said the government had cleared the backlogs of bursary owed by the last administration till 2017, with 2018 to be paid this year.
“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,” he said.