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GOV DIRI INSISTS BAYELSA IS ONE OF NIGERIA’S RICHEST STATES, FAULTS ECONOMIC VIABILITY REPORT

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has again made a case for the practice of true federalism and restructuring of Nigeria in order to determine the real viability of states.

Governor Diri spoke on Wednesday during the 124th state executive council meeting in Government House, Yenagoa, against the backdrop of a recent report on the economic and financial viability of states in the country.

It could be recalled that the Economic Confidential, in its 2022 Annual States Viability Index (ASVI) report, listed Bayelsa among six states that were allegedly financially insolvent.

In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, the Bayelsa governor faulted the report, saying it focused on only federal allocation and internally generated revenue to determine a state’s viability without considering how their resources were being expropriated by the federal government.

He insisted that Bayelsa was not financially insolvent and that such reports came from “prophets of doom.”

The governor said Bayelsa, with its huge oil resources, is one of the richest states but that the lopsided federalism in practice in the country had deprived it from controlling its resources and natural wealth.

Diri described as unacceptable the situation where states’ resources were being taken by the government at the center, leaving the subnationals to depend on monthly allocation.

He said: “The prophets of doom will always make predictions that Bayelsa State is insolvent and I think they need to stop those predictions.

“We have called for a true and structured federalism. One of the richest states in Nigeria in terms of resources is Bayelsa. By no means will anybody convince me that our state is insolvent.

“We have been saying return our resources to us and let us compare what Bayelsa has with other states and see if we are one of those that cannot generate internal revenue.

“Now we depend on federal allocation where our resources have been expropriated, taken to Abuja and shared to other states. And you call us a poor state. That has to stop.”

Before the meeting, Governor Diri swore in two new judges to enhance the administration of justice in the state.

They are Amaebi Orukari, who was sworn in as a state high court judge and his counterpart, David Opokuma, as a judge of the Customary Court of Appeal.

The newly judges were formerly Chief Registrars in their respective courts before the elevation.

Delivering his charge to the jurists, Diri said his administration had made modest strides in providing the enabling environment for the state judiciary to be independent.

He congratulated the judges and explained that their appointment was based on the authority derived from Chapter 7 Section 271 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), which prescribed the modus for appointment of the chief judge and judges of the high court of the state.

He noted that it was the first time since the establishment of the Bayelsa State Customary Court of Appeal that it was having a new judge.

“It is on record that the president and judges of the Customary Court of Appeal were sworn in on March 25, 2009.

“In an era where our society faces numerous challenges, ranging from complex legal disputes to social injustice, the role of judges becomes even more critical. Your decisions will shape the lives and destinies of individuals, families and even communities.”

He charged them to carry out their duties with utmost integrity, impartiality and dedication in line with the principles of justice.

The state’s helmsman further urged the judicial officers to discharge their responsibility with a deep sense of humility, remaining conscious of the enormous trust that has been placed upon them.

“The judiciary is often referred to as the last hope of the common man and it is your duty to ensure that this hope is not extinguished.”