The opposition All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State has threatened to drag the Governor Douye Diri-led administration before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the government’s handling of the sum of N21billion that accrued to the eight local government councils of the state from the withheld 13 per cent oil derivation refunds which the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), released to the oil-producing states.
The party, which vowed to also petition Diri to give an account of the over N100bn that the state received as its share of the withheld 13 per cent derivation fund, said that N3bn accrued to each of the local governments totalling N21bn under unelected council officials.
The state APC chairman, Dennis Otiotio, came up with these allegations while speaking at the Correspondents’ Forum of the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Bayelsa State Council, in Yenagoa on Tuesday.
He stated that alleged bad governance by the Diri administration had brought untold hardship on the people of the state despite the huge monthly revenue allocation from the Federation Account, including the 13 per cent oil derivation funds, in the past three years.
Otiotio said the APC was working hard to wrest power from the government of the Peoples Democratic Party under Diri, stressing that the people voted overwhelmingly for the APC in the 2019 governorship election but the mandate was given to the PDP via a Supreme Court judgment.
He said, “We are told that about N3 billion accrued to each of the local government areas of the state from money that was withheld from 13 per cent derivation, but we are aware that as we speak, there are no elected officials manning the local governments in the state because the governor is unable to conduct local government election.
And since there are no elected officials at the local government councils, how did they manage this N3 billion? I hear they are sharing the money with candidates to go and do an election.
We are going to write to the EFCC to investigate that money; the money was given to the local governments.
They (the state government) should explain to Bayelsans how they spent the money when there are no elected officials at the local governments.
Coming to the state, they got over N100 billion from that 13 per cent refunds from the record we have seen.
Meanwhile, a month after they got the money, the governor went to the state Assembly with a loan request. Why are they collecting loans when they have over N100 billion from the Federal Government?”
The APC chieftain continued, “It is unfortunate that even the various transparency briefings they have been holding, they have not deemed it necessary to disclose that they have collected over N100 billion from the Federation Account.
“That is the money that PDP led-Federal Government then withheld, but APC led-Federal Government released it to the PDP states and the governors unanimously concealed it, if not the revelation by Governor Nyesom Wike.
Governor Diri needs to give us a proper account of how the money was spent and stop this shady transparency briefing they are doing because it is clear that this transparency briefing is a farce. If at the time they did the transparency briefing, they did not inform Bayelsans that Federal Government has released the withheld money, but six months after, they came out because there was a revelation.
We can see that Governor Douye Diri’s administration has brought suffering to the people of Bayelsa State, our resources have been mismanaged, and the people cannot enjoy the dividends of democracy; the essence of governance is to create enabling environment for businesses to strive.”
But it would be recalled that Diri had on November 22, 2022, while receiving the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Maj. Gen. Barry Ndiomu (retd), on a courtesy visit, explained that the 13 per cent oil derivation funds accruing to the state were being prudently spent, mostly on infrastructure development.
The governor also claimed in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, that his 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.