By Suoyo Ekubo
Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri, has said the 13% oil derivation funds accruing to the state were being prudently spent, mostly on infrastructure development.
Governor Diri stated this on Tuesday when he received the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Maj. Gen. Barry Ndiomu (retd), in Government House, Yenagoa.
A press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as insisting that the administration had nothing to hide and that the state’s monthly allocations from the Federation Account had always been made public through its monthly transparency briefings.
He however explained that what the state received as 13% derivation refund from the time of the previous administration was being paid in instalments after it had been discounted.
Diri equally stated that the amount did not make much impact in terms of development.
He maintained that the income and expenditure of the state were accounted for on a monthly basis through the transparency briefings.
He further stated that the cost of construction in a difficult terrain like Bayelsa was three or more times than elsewhere, adding that the cost of constructing a road project in the state was more than three or four flyovers in some other states even in the Niger Delta.
His words: “For people who are talking about the 13% derivation funds due the state, I want to state that for one reason or the other, we were under-paid. When we discovered that, we followed due process from the state executive council to the state House of Assembly.
“Approvals were given and the funds were discounted. I do not play politics with this kind of thing. Anybody who wants to see how we use our money, our monthly transparency briefing on our financial income and expenditure are available.
“One kilometer road we build in Yenagoa is more than three or four-kilometer road built elsewhere.”
On the Presidential Amnesty Programme, the state’s helmsman called on the federal government not to end it as it contributes significantly to the peace and security of the Niger Delta region.
According to him, “the best thing to give to the Niger Delta is to support the programme and keep it going as it has recorded some level of success in spite of the challenges.”
While congratulating Major Gen Ndiomu on his appointment, Senator Diri urged him to write his name in gold as he had the capacity to ensure that Niger Delta youths benefit from the programme.
He tasked the new PAP boss on infrastructure development and award of scholarship to deserving youths as well as urging the federal government to relocate the headquarters of the programme to Bayelsa as the state had made land available for it.
In his remarks, the PAP Interim Administrator, Maj-Gen. Barry Ndiomu (retd), said the programme was intended to address the agitations of the people of the region.
He noted that the federal government had issued a directive to bring the programme to an end but that the directive had been suspended.
The new PAP boss therefore stressed the need to re-calibrate the programme to make it more meaningful and impactful.