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Niger Delta will be better if allowed to use its resources for development – Gov Diri

Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, at the weekend called for a review of the country’s revenue derivation formula in line with the practice of fiscal federalism.

Diri, who queried the existing practice where resource-endowed states in Nigeria, particularly in the Niger Delta, get a paltry 13 per cent as derivation for their resources, maintained that the country’s lopsided federalism practice had hindered the development of states.

He spoke on Saturday in Houston, Texas, when Ijaws in the United States of America and Canada conferred on him the award of ‘Icon of Unity and Social Justice’, organized by the Ijaw National Congress, INC-Americas.

While receiving the award, Diri appreciated the organisers for upholding the Ijaw tradition and culture even in the Diaspora.

In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, the governor admonished the Ijaw ethnic nationality not to get tired of its leadership role in the Niger Delta while enlisting the support of other ethnic groups in the region.

He said, “The Niger Delta is an area that should be better than it is if we were allowed to use our resources for our development.

“Since I arrived this country, what crossed my mind has been how Bayelsa would be if we practised true federalism whereby we get 100 per cent of our revenue from oil and gas and not 13 per cent as it is today. Maybe we would have had one small Houston in Yenagoa.”

Diri insisted that it was wrong to describe Bayelsa as insolvent and unable to exist without monthly federal allocation while its resources were being expropriated to Abuja and shared to other states in the country.

“You cannot take away the resources in my state and the internally generated revenue that would have accrued to us and expropriate it in the name of Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).

“Every month end, the 36 states in the country gather in Abuja to share resources accruing from my state and they still come back to insult us that our state is insolvent.

“I have never seen anywhere in the world where the essence of the FAAC is to share revenue only from oil and gas. What about the revenue from other mineral resources like gold? Why are they not also shared? This is the naked truth.”

He urged them not to allow the fire of Ijaw nationalism that has been ignited to be extinguished and ensure that the annual event was sustained while promising the support of his administration.

Also honoured were the former Nigerian First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, the Minister of State for Petroleum (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri as well as renowned author and Ibenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom, King Bubaraye Dakolo.

Present at the well-attended event were President of the INC, Prof. Benjamin Okaba, one of his predecessors, Chief Joshua Fumudoh, Chairman, INC-Americas, Mr. Kenneth Anga as well as former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, among other dignitaries.

Niger Delta will be better if allowed to use its resources for development – Gov Diri

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