From Amos Okioma,Yenagoa.
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has again described as unfair and unjust the revenue sharing formula between the federal government and the states, which are the federating units in Nigeria.
Speaking in his office in Yenagoa when he hosted a delegation from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) on Wednesday, Governor Diri said it was time the revenue formula was changed to reflect the principles of true federalism, which promote equity and justice.
His Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, in a statement, said the governor charged the RMAFC to be agents of change to ensure that the current abnormalities in Nigeria’s federal structure were corrected.
He described as surprising the recent categorisation of Bayelsa among five states that are insolvent by the commission, given the fact that it is about the highest producer of oil and gas, which is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.
Diri renewed his call on oil multinationals to relocate their headquarters to Bayelsa and other Niger Delta states where they have their main operations, a move he said would shore up the revenue base of the states.
The state chief executive lamented a situation where the impact of oil exploration is felt by the people of the state while others benefit from the outcome of the production.
He therefore called for a reversal of the status quo.
The governor expressed the readiness of the state government to engage in regular dialogue with relevant agencies, saying that it is the way out of the current unfortunate situation.
His words: “We cannot be doing things the same way and expect a different result; a state where a good percentage of the revenue that Nigeria shares is said to be bankrupt. How does that happen in any normal society? It tells us that there is an abnormality in this country. Should Bayelsa be bankrupt, then Nigeria should also be declared bankrupt.
“I am sure that the unfair treatment given to Bayelsa and other Niger Delta states is what has led to Bayelsa being declared bankrupt. If the revenue derived from this land or the taxes that are paid belong to Bayelsa, we should be one of the richest states in Nigeria. The true practice of federalism is that the states pay taxes to the centre. Unfortunately, ours is turned upside down. We have a lopsided federal system of government.
Governor Diri also decried a situation where the Niger Delta states and people bear the brunt of gas flares but others outside the region derive the benefits.
“The effect sof gas flaring on us are enormous. But who collects the royalty for gas flaring? The federal government. Is that how it should be? You cannot have oil companies with all their investments in Bayelsa but their offices are in Lagos and some in Abuja.
Earlier, a Federal Commissioner and leader of the RMAFC delegation, Alhaji Mohammed Kabiru Usman, said their visit was to sensitise stakeholders on what needed to be done to review the current revenue sharing formula.
He noted that the current indices for revenue sharing were old and not equitable, calling on stakeholders to contribute to a review of the formula that reflects fairness and justice.