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Bayelsa kicks against use of LGs as revenue sharing indicator

 

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Bayelsa State Government on Thursday called on the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to review some of its revenue sharing parameters in the interest of equity and fairness.

Governor Douye Diri made the call while declaring open a sensitization programme on the review of the existing revenue allocation formula organized by the Commission at the Golden Tulip, Onopa in Yenagoa.

Represented by his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Governor kicked against the continued use of number of local governments as a yardstick for sharing revenues in the country.

He pointed out that Bayelsa was being shortchanged with only eight local government areas even though it has more square kilometers than several states in the country.

According to Senator Diri, Bayelsa has about 11,000 Square Kilometers, noting that some of its local government areas like Southern Ijaw was equivalent to five or more council areas elsewhere in the country.

He also frowned at the decision of the Commission for allocating revenues accruing from the disputed Soku Oil wells to the Rivers State Government even as the case has yet to be finally determined.

Speaking earlier when a delegation of the Commission led by the Commissioner representing Bayelsa, Hon. Alfred Egba, paid him a courtesy call in his office, the Governor stressed the need for all such revenues to be deposited in an escrow account.

His words, “It is unfair that for a judgement that we are still contesting in court, RMAFC is in a hurry to allocate revenues coming from the Soku Oil wells to Rivers State.

“We ordinarily had expected that, that money wouldh have been kept in an escrow account pending when the case is finally determined. We know that Rivers State has a lot of resources and connections, but our take is that the right thing should be done.

“We believe there is always a way of using history to guide the future. I say so because this oil dispute we are talking about, RMAFC itself had taken a decision several years ago. So, we expect the Commission to stand by that decision.

“Secondly, we believe that some of the indicators, you are using to share revenues currently do not promote equity and fairness in this country and therefore not acceptable to us.

“For instance, we do not agree that you should continue to use local government areas as a basis of sharing revenues. It is faulty because the creation of local governments was not done scientifically.

“It was purely political and a case of who was holding the knife and the yam at the time of creating them. And so, those who had the knife cut more to themselves.

“You are aware that, if we are to take Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and place it on some states, Southern Ijaw is equivalent to several local government areas in those states.”

“Bayelsa has about 11,000 Square Kilometers with only eight local government areas. While some states with about 6,000 Square Kilometers have 13 local government areas or more. So, where is the justice and fairness?”

Also speaking, the Secretary to the State Government, Rt Hon. Konbowei Benson, also stressed the need for the Commission to review the extant revenue sharing formula in an expeditious manner, as it has been in use since 2004.

Rt Hon Benson, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, General Services, Mr Anthony Ikhobo, urged the participants to come up with ideas targeted at achieving a more equitable distribution of accrued revenue from the Federation Account for the benefit of all tiers of government.

Earlier in his remarks, the Team Leader, Hon Alfred Egba, assured that the Commission would do all within its powers to consider the inputs of various stakeholders with a view to fashioning out a more acceptable revenue sharing formula.

 

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