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Revenue formula lopsided, must be changed, says Diri

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Diri. Photo: TWITTER/OFFICIALNCDMB

New arrangement should reflect true federalism
• RMAFC seeks stakeholders’ support for review

Bayelsa State Governor 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.

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Diri, who spoke in his office in Yenagoa, when he hosted a delegation from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) yesterday, said it was time to change the revenue formula to reflect the principles of true federalism, which promote equity and justice.

In a statement by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, the governor charged the RMAFC to be an agent of change to ensure that the current abnormalities in the nation’s federal structure are 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 nation’s 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.

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“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 come from 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, Nigeria should also be declared bankrupt.

“I am sure that the unfair treatment is given to Bayelsa and other Niger Delta states are 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,” he lamented.

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.

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“The effects of 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.

“When there is the drilling of oil, there is no insecurity. But when it is time to put something back in the same place, there is insecurity. That is unfair, illogical, and inhuman. That is why we are advocating that all the oil companies relocate their headquarters to the Niger Delta.”

Earlier, the 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 described the current indices for revenue sharing as old and not equitable, calling on stakeholders to contribute to a review of the formula to reflects fairness and justice.

Usman assured the governor of the commission’s preparedness to right the prevailing wrongs. He called for cooperation by all stakeholders.

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