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Niger Delta

Bayelsa Faults BudgiT 2022 Report

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The Bayelsa State Government has dismissed the 2022 fiscal sustainability report on Nigerian states released by BudgiT, a publc finance transparency-focused civil society organisation.
The Tide’s source reports that Rivers State tops the 2022 fiscal performance ranking, followed by Kaduna and Cross River, while Yobe, Bayelsa and Benue States sit at the bottom of the table.
The Bayelsa State Government, in a statement released by its Commissioner for Finance, Mr Maxwell Ebibai, questioned the report.
Ebibai faulted the methodology used to arrive at the rankings and noted that it did not reflect current financial standing of the State.
The Commissioner said the report was merely a rehash of the 2021 ranking.
“Our reaction then as now is that not only is this report faulty, but relies on tangential parameters inconsistent with economic fundamentals.
“As before, the current report erroneously depended on opaque data and criteria bordering largely on the ability of a state to meet its operating expenses (recurrent expenditure) with only its Internally Generated Revenue.
“The very notion of creating a dichotomy between “Federal Allocations” and “Internally Generated Revenue” is a misnomer” the statement said.
It continued that the report is “adding insult to painful injury as over the years, we have protested the absence of true fiscal federalism and inequity of the revenue-sharing formula that robs states such as Bayelsa in favour of the collective,” Ebibai stated in the statement.
According to him, it was incomprehensible not to appreciate that oil and gas had produced at a significant opportunity cost to states and that the derivation revenue compensated for such brutal environmental degradation.
He further recalled that Bayelsa State Government protested against the 2021 ranking as being defective for excluding key revenue sources such as mineral oil derivation funds in the analysis, a position the BudgiT team acknowledged.
“We are again bewildered that they returned to this cynical profiling.
“It should be worrisome to BudgiT that the huge revenue that should accrue to Bayelsa from taxes of oil multinationals operating in the state were being paid to states where the companies have their offices domiciled.
“Notwithstanding the disequilibrium, we are happy to state unequivocally that the financial standing and sustainability of Bayelsa State are sound and not in any jeopardy as the government can comfortably meet its obligations, including regular payment of salaries and pensions,” the statement read in part.
Ebibai noted that it was also disturbing that a state with a low debt profile that was effectively managing its financial liabilities would be ranked low against states with a higher debt profile, more so when Bayelsa was clearing its debts.
On biometric capturing of the state’s civil servants, he said that Bayelsa had successfully concluded the process to achieve payroll transparency.
According to him, the government continues to invest in human capital development and empowerment programmes, without neglecting critical financially demanding infrastructure projects such as the Yenagoa-Oporoma Road and Bridges, the Sagbama-Ekeremor Road with seven bridges and the Nembe-Brass Road with 10 bridges amongst other projects across the state that will stir its economic life.
Ebibai noted that states with limited federal presence were inherently disadvantaged with the ranking methodology where facilities such as ports give a clear edge to some states.
He recommended that for a fair analysis and a more comparable measure of fiscal sustainability, BudgiT should expand its indices to cover derivation revenue as IGR in future profiling.
He explained that the Bayelsa Government was in strong disagreement with the ranking and wished to state categorically that it rejected the report.
Ebibai said it failed to rely on key financial instruments that were legitimate, equitable and sustainable.

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Niger Delta

Eno Sacks Commissioner For Special Duties

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Akwa Ibom State Governor, Umo Eno has relieved the Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr Bassey Okon, of his appointment with immediate effect.
Secretary to the State Government, Mr Enobong Uwah, disclosed this in a statement in Uyo on Monday.
Uwah, who did not give reasons for the commissioner’s sack, directed him to hand over all state government properties in his possession to the Permanent Secretary.
He thanked the former commissioner for the period he served the state, and wished him well in his future endeavours.

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Niger Delta

Check Oil Pollution In N’Delta, Stakeholders Urge Oil Firms

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Stakeholders in host communities have demanded that oil companies be compelled to address adverse health impact of oil exploration in the Niger-Delta.
They made their position known on Monday during a public presentation of the research report on the impact of oil extraction on women’s health in Otuabagi community in Bayelsa.
The Tide’s source reports that Dr Emem Okon, Director, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, an NGO, championed the event.
The source also reports that Otuabagi Community within the Oloibiri District in present Ogbia Local Government Area is where crude oil was discovered in commercial quantity in Nigeria in 1956.
Okon said the report highlighted the adverse consequences of oil extraction which had profound negative impact on health and livelihood of women in Otuabagi community.
She said research revealed that several of the participants had hydrocarbons in their blood sample more than World Health Organisation (WHO) threshold and therefore demanded for compensation from oil companies and government.
“There is, therefore, a need to demand for compensation and restoration of polluted sites as well as health actions to keep us alive and to resist death, poverty and injustice”, she said.
She stated that the findings and data would serve as a tool for policy makers, community leaders and all those who strove for a more equitable and sustainable future.
Meanwhile, Dr Bieye Briggs, a public health physician and head of the research team, said from the findings of the report, it was revealed that there was very high and unacceptable level of exposure of the people to hydrocarbons.
Briggs advocated for the Federal Government to carry out health audit in Otuabagi community and other oil producing areas in the Niger-Delta region.
He explained that such audit was with a view to instituting intervention program to halt and reverse the impact of oil exploration.
Similarly, Chief Daniel Amangi, the traditional ruler of Otuabagi community, commended Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre for undertaking the project and urged the Federal Government to focus on developing the community.
Amangi also called for the immediate implementation of the recommendations of the research findings for the overall benefit of the people.
In the same vein, Alagoa Morris, a stakeholder, lamented that life expectancy was lower in the Niger-Delta region than in other parts of the country due to the hazards caused by oil exploration.
He called for compensation to be paid to host communities to ameliorate the health impact of oil extraction in the region.
The ceremony also featured a drama presentation by Otuabagi women and panel discussion on the findings of the report.

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Niger Delta

Court Orders AAU Graduate’s Car, iPhone’s Forfeiture To FG

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A Benin High Court on Monday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to sell a Toyota Venza 2012 model, recovered from a graduate of Biochemistry from Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Osadolor Edomwonyi.
The EFCC charged Edomwonyi with internet fraud.
Delivering judgment, Justice Efe Ikponmwonba, sentenced Edomwonyi to three years imprisonment.
The judge also ordered the forfeiture of an iPhone 13 Promax, recovered from the convict .
He also ordered that balances in his Opay account, Kids Bank account and Access Bank with which he was charged and convicted to the Federal Government through EFCC and the accounts be parmanently closed.
The convict prayed the court for a plea bargain agreement.
Ikponmwonba, however, gave him an option of fine in the sum of N100,000.
Earlier, the EFCC counsel, Mr I K Agwaisaid, said the convict committed an offence contrary to the provisions of Sections 6 and 8 (b) of the advance free fraud and other fraud-related offences Act 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.
The prosecutor said in a plea bargain agreement, Edomwonyi pleaded guilty to the one-count charge of possession of fraudulent documents.

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