Scores of civil society groups and Non – Governmental Organizations in Bayelsa State under the aegis of the Bayelsa Non-Governmental Organisation Forum (BANGOF) have written to the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri over the poor rating of the state as “Insolvent” by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) on the low level of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the State.
BANGOF is requesting from the state government a document containing information of the debt profile of the state and account balance showing what the present administration inherited as at February 14th 2020.
The BANGOF, in a letter dated July 14th 2020, signed by its Secretary, Mr. Kemedengiyefa Opia and addressed to the Speaker of the Bayelsa Sate House of Assembly and permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Works, Health and Education had demanded for information regarding budget implementation details of the state for the period under review, 2015 -2019.
In letter of reminder addressed to the governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, dated 24th August 2020, BANGOF complained that from the time of submission of the first letter till date, the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act request has rather been ridiculously ignored by all relevant MDAs including the state House of Assembly which is officially saddled with responsibility of carrying out oversight role on the overall management of the state resources.
According to the letter, “this is clear indication of unwillingness on the part of public office holders in Bayelsa State is a display of the complete absence of transparency and accountability, a display of ineptitude and inefficiency at its peak in public administration and governance in general. A situation that calls for an urgent response in the form of a collective action by civil society organizations and other stakeholder on the Bayelsa Project”.
“Based on the foregoing, we intend to take the following actions: Call for an expanded stakeholder’s consultative forum with a view to chat the way forward on the issues raised and come up with resolutions. Take necessary actions on resolutions reached. File for legal action on the gross inefficiency and negligence government agencies.”
When contacted for comments over the said letter, the Acting Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said that going by the date the letter was delivered to the governor’s office, his principal has not contravened the provisions of the FoI Act, as his has ample time to respond.
The Bayelsa State Government, had on Tuesday through its technical adviser on treasury and revenue generation, Hon. Timipre Seipulo , during the third edition of transparency brief for the months of May, June and July, 2020, demanded for the control of their oil and gas resources maintaining that if it was in control of it’s resources, the state wouldn’t have been one of the states mentioned by federal government to be bankrupt.
According to Timipre Seipulo, assuming the federating nature was not the way it works, probably the state’s internally generated revenue should have included revenue from oil and gas,” Because oil and gas are our own natural resources. But unfortunately because of the federating nature, a lot of things are determined by the federal government. We also know that a lot of fiscal policies are driven by the government. That is why you see that we call for restructuring from the federal government”.
“The few states that they called, we know that some states something naturally supports their revenue structure. That is why they said only few states have met their revenue expectations. The state government was agitating that the oil and gas companies operating in the South South region should pay taxes to the states. Federal Inland Revenue is collecting monies that should come to the state. If you look at the federating structure and the type of federation we operate, then you can see these developments. For the fact that all states and the federal government depend on these allocations, you cannot say that any state is technically insolvent”.