Gov Diri honoured by Ijaws in US, restates call for fiscal federalism

Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, has again called for a review of the country’s revenue derivation formula in line with the practice of fiscal federalism, as be bags award of “Icon of Unity and Social Justice.”

He challenged the existing practice where resource-endowed states in Nigeria, particularly in the Niger Delta, get a paltry 13 percent as monthly allocation from their resources.

Diri said 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.”

The three-day 2024 convention was held under the auspices of the Ijaw National Congress, INC-Americas.

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.

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

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

He said: “This annual convention offers an opportunity for Ijaws in the diaspora to continue to associate with themselves.

“I urge the INC in the Americas not to allow the Ijaw fire to be put out. My administration will support you to sustain the Ijaw culture and tradition here in the Americas.”

Governor Diri also 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.

“The leadership of the Niger Delta has been with the Ijaws over the years. Now it looks like we are getting tired. But we should not. We have to continue with our leadership role while galvansing support from our neighbours and brothers in the region.

“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.”

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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.”

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.

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