By Osa Okhomina,Yenagoa
Mr. Daniel Alabra, the Special Adviser on Public Affairs to the Bayelsa State Governor,Hon. Seriake Dickson yesterday faulted a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Chief Perekeme Kpodo over claims that over N30billion has been paid to the State by the Federal Government.
According to Hon. Daniel Alabra, the Chieftain of the APC misfied and engaged in absolute misinformation and falsehood over alleged Paris Club Refund.
Hon. Dan Alabra, in a statement yesterday, stated that “Contrary to Chief Kpodo’s claim, Bayelsa State has received N24.5billion, which was refunded in two tranches, and not more than N30billion,”
He explained that, it is important to put the records straight, otherwise Kpodo’s tirade would have been ignored, given the antecedents of the former Special Adviser on Security in the immediate past administration in the state.
Alabrah faulted Kpodo’s claim on lack of transparency on the Paris Club refunds, stating that, the Governor Henry Seriake Dickson administration is a shining portrayal of transparency in the utilisation of public funds as it had always declared every amount that accrued to the state since 2012 when it assumed office.
“The Restoration Government led by Governor Dickson deserves commendation for its fiscal discipline and transparency in the handling of state funds. Under him, Bayelsa is the only state in Nigeria with a Transparency Law, which compels the governor to compulsorily make public the income and expenditure of the state. In furtherance of this, the government regularly holds the transparency briefing, which is backed by legislation, where it openly declares before the media the monthly federal allocation and other revenue receipts as well as disbursements.
“Bayelsa was also the first to declare what it got as Paris Club refund payment from the Federal Government before other states followed. The government equally held meetings with the organised labour in the state where it was agreed how the refunds would be disbursed and it has so far kept faith with its part of the agreement.
“Mischief makers and rumour peddlers need to be aware that the Paris Club money is not a gift from the Federal Government to states in the country. The money rightly belongs to the states as part of the illegal deductions from their federal allocations during the Obasanjo administration.
“Besides, the discretion on disbursement of the refunded money equally lies with the states. It is therefore erroneous to claim that the money is meant for payment of salary arrears to civil servants in states that are indebted to their workers. The bailout fund was supposed to meet that obligation but the Bayelsa State government did not receive bailout from the Federal Government. Only local governments in the state got N1.2billion as bailout to offset part of their salary arrears,” Alabrah said.
He added that since January 2017, workers in the state civil service regularly received their salaries monthly and that an arrangement has been worked out for the arrears of four and a half months of 2016 to be cleared.
Alabrah said the government has commenced a comprehensive civil service reform to free more funds for development of the state. Through the reform, perpetrators of an endemic payroll fraud in the civil service will be exposed, arrested and prosecuted.
The special adviser noted that prudence with management of the state’s funds has enabled the government embark on big-ticket legacy projects like the long-neglected 100km Sagbama-Ekeremor-Agge road in the Bayelsa West senatorial district, the 3.5km runway Bayelsa International Airport, an ultramodern Governor’s Office as well as the Ijaw National Academy in Kaiama and the other model boarding schools in the state.
Other projects, he said, are the Diagnostic/Forensic Centre in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa drug mart, the Bayelsa Specialist Hospital, referral hospitals across the state, several agricultural reform projects as well as a first of its kind Ecumenical Centre in Nigeria that will be dedicated by Pastor Enoch Adeboye on October 30.