Akintunde Oyebode: Let’s talk about Bayelsa (Y! FrontPage)

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While we laughed and ranted about the headlines from our friends, the most alarming headline about Bayelsa State went relatively unnoticed.

It is very rare to see three men who governed the same state at different times dominate the headlines of Nigerian newspapers. Last week, the biggest news in the country was the pardon President Jonathan granted to his former boss and benefactor, the former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. While this was going on, the current governor of the state, Seriake Dickson announced the inauguration of a ‘high powered’ committee to address rumour mongering in the state. I am sure many Nigerians double checked their calendars to confirm this was not a round of ‘April Fool’ headlines before reading these stories.

While we laughed and ranted about the headlines from our friends, the most alarming headline about Bayelsa State went relatively unnoticed. The Debt Management Office carried out a solvency test on the 36 states, comparing their domestic indebtedness to internally generated revenues. While, this ignores federal allocations, it gives an indication of how the states will stack up if allocations from Abuja dry up at short notice. Bayelsa came out of this exercise in flying colours, racking up debts of N162.8 billion against internal revenues of N9.5 billion, and insolvency ratio of 1,712%. To understand the extent of the damage done to Bayelsa State’s finances, the acceptable solvency threshold is between 92% and 116%. Yes, you read that right; the threshold is 116% and Bayelsa is cruising at 1,712%. From the details of the submissions by the chairman of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), 81% of Bayelsa State’s federally allocated revenue was deducted at source to service debts.  This meant N47.6 billion out of N58.7 billion earned from the federation account went to debt servicing.

For a state with an estimated population of two million people, it will be interesting to know what this huge debt burden went to, hopefully not for LG chairmen to “buy Mr. Biggs.” It will be mischievous to blame the current governor of the state for this mess, it clearly predates his administration. But we must ask what all that money was borrowed for, since Bayelsa is clearly not outstripping the rest of the country on infrastructure or human development indicators. While anecdotal information suggests most of these loans were taken during the Jonathan and Sylvia administrations, future generations will continue to bear the burden for these reckless acts. The Domestic Borrowing Guidelines (2008) and Fiscal Responsibilities Act (2007) suggest states should borrow for Capital Expenditure and Human Development projects only, so it will be good to understand the projects the debts racked up in Bayelsa State funded; my guess is none. For a state that has the 3rd largest federal allocation, but has the least population, it is necessary to ask where the revenues have disappeared to.

This is why we need to be a part of every election process. Such executive recklessness could not have happened without the assent of the State House of Assembly. To ensure the house is not a mere rubber stamp, we should be interested in all state elections, not just turn out when it is time to elect a governor. Finally, President Jonathan’s pardon could not have happened at a worse time. The President has granted a pardon to the man whose wanton theft of state resources led to irresponsible debts without any sign of development to the people. Apart from Kolo Creek Gas Turbine, it is unclear how the people of Bayelsa State have been served by their government. The sound bites from Yenagoa suggest fishing out rumour mongers is a more important task than unwinding the huge debt burden crippling the state. I wish them the very best.

This is why we need to be a part of every election process. Such executive recklessness could not have happened without the assent of the State House of Assembly. To ensure the house is not a mere rubber stamp, we should be interested in all state elections, not just turn out when it is time to elect a governor. Finally, President Jonathan’s pardon could not have happened at a worse time. The President has granted a pardon to the man whose wanton theft of state resources led to irresponsible debts without any sign of development to the people. Apart from Kolo Creek Gas Turbine, it is unclear how the people of Bayelsa State have been served by their government. The sound bites from Yenagoa suggest fishing out rumour mongers is a more important task than unwinding the huge debt burden crippling the state. I wish them the very best.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (5)

  1. The governor of bayelsa is just afraid of criticism that is why he wants to set up his so called ‘high powered’ committee to address rumour mongering in the state. What has rumour mongering got to do with the development of the state.

  2. i love ynaija news bcos dey normally givs me the latest news on board am impress in wot u pple ar doin, i thank u pple u ar doin a great job is nt easy atall i thank u pple once again???.

  3. My presidEnt is from OtUke in Bayelsa & in that light I ask,can anything good come out of Bayelsa? From Alams to Goodluck to Dickson.

  4. Friend, you know nothing about Bayelsa , the state is implementing the most articulate urban and rural development masterplan in the country, similar to but bigger than AKWA Ibom, but yet in layout and early construction stages, about three years behind in completion from AKWA Ibom, including the most modern and biggest deep sea port in Nigeria, you may want to leave your keyboard and actually visit

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