Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri on Thursday criticised the federal allocation revenue system as unfair to Bayelsa State and the Niger-Delta region.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, the Governor was reacting to a private sector report alluding that the state’s finances may be in the red zone.
“The question you will ask yourself is that, is that fair, is that just, that what is generated here as income comes back to Bayelsa State as federal allocation,” Mr Diri said.
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“And maybe, truly, a paltry federal allocation. And those are the issues that we have been talking about: that you cannot have the whole chunk of money generated from our land here and taken to the federal and shared to the states, and in the end you now say Bayelsa State is insolvent.
“And that’s why we are talking about restructuring, that’s why we are talking about the amendment of our country’s constitution. A constitution that says land surface rights belongs to the people, and what is under that land belongs to Federal Government. There is no justice in it. And anybody who bandies these figures, you are annoying the people of Bayelsa State, and indeed the people of the Niger-Delta.
“So, for us, we need to rework our constitution; we need to restructure our country, in a way that we can approximate our own resources here and pay tax to the Federal Government. And nobody will be talking about Bayelsa State being insolvent or any other state in the Niger Delta for that matter.
“If Bayelsa state is insolvent, then it means Nigeria is insolvent. From where you get all your resources, and the resources are not ploughed back here. And you say the state is insolvent?”
Mr Diri also explained that oil wasn’t developed in Nigeria by money made from cocoa farming.
“A lot of people make a mistake and say we used cocoa money to developed oil, that’s not true.
“Multinational, international oil companies came with the capital in oil exploration and exploitation,” Mr Diri said.
“There was no money from Nigeria, every money that came was monies from those who came to develop oil here. These are the issues Nigeria needs to resolve.”
Focus on farming
The Governor noted that despite Bayelsa’s oil wealth, his administration is working to re-orientate youths to go into farming.
According to him, farming is a priority and everyone in the state is encouraged to key into it.
“Agriculture is a priority for this government, we are working hard to have a change of mindset of our youths to key into Agriculture.
“Tomorrow, the Akwa-Ibom Governor is coming into Bayelsa to flag off the farming season. He will also superintend over the made-in-Bayelsa Agriculture show.
“Oil is almost going; we cannot continue to live (dependent) on oil. The focus of this government is agriculture. Let us all key into Agriculture,” the governor said.