Bayelsa state with 2.5 million populations and eight Local Government Areas ranks second poorest state in Nigeria despite receiving N90 billion in Excess Crude Account (ECA) revenue from the federal government in 2022 and that excludes other revenues totaling millions of Naira.
ECA is money from oil revenue in excess of the budget benchmark of crude oil. And it is shared among states on a quarterly basis. The money is expected to be deployed in the state’s development and growth.
Mr. Timipre Seipulo, Technical Adviser to the Bayelsa Governor on Treasury and Accounts, confirmed the state receiving the money while giving a breakdown of revenues and expenses made by the state on October 2022.
Although the huge revenue ought to have translated into the citizens’ well-being, Bayelsa State has multidimensional poverty and was ranked the second poorest state, the latest Poverty Index Report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics shows.
The ranking of Bayelsa as the second poorest state in Nigeria despite the huge revenues she had received and the latest N90 billion ECA funds, further questions how the state deploys its resources. And, it reconfirms the general belief that corruption, theft, and misappropriation of funds are major obstacles impeding the development of Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.
Nowhere in Bayelsa do we have apparent poverty indicators like education, health, and infrastructural decay. On visits to rural communities in Bayelsa, one sees deplorable schools and hospitals with many of the rural villages not accessible because there are no roads.
MAWA-Foundation had earlier published a report showing how Onopa community in Bayelsa State is in unimaginable squalor after the state government in one year alone got N152.54 billion in allocations from the Federal Government and N12.18 billion in Internally Generated Revenue.
Onopa community has a huge reflection of poverty with inhabitants living in pitiable squalor is 3 kilometres away from Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital.
A clear indication that the state government is aware of the poverty in Onopa community and watches the residents live in squalor without any basic infrastructure.
Worse still, the Annual State Viability Index (ASVI) shows that Bayelsa state an oil-producing state, in the year 2020 alone, received N152.54 billion allocations from the Federal Government and generated N12.18 billion internally, making her 2020 annual income stand at N164.72 billion.
Despite the huge revenues, Tracka, a public accountability organization that was in the Onopa community, says residents are living in unimaginable poverty with many of them living in inhuman conditions.
Onopa community is an exception, across Bayelsa State, there are many communities living in squalor with the inhabitants living in inhuman conditions.
This is even though Bayelsa is estimated to be 1.7 million in population with eight Local Government Areas.
And, despite the huge allocation, and its small population, Bayelsa State government has on many occasions had issues with the civil servants over none payment of workers’ salaries.
Looking at the terrible poverty in Onopa community which is 3 kilometres away from the Bayelsa state government house, it becomes worrisome and unclear how the state deploys its resources.
The poverty in Bayelsa and other Niger Delta communities appears to be endemic. This is even as the Federal Government gives states in the region 13 percent derivation, created Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and other interventions in efforts to address poverty in the region. And all the efforts have since failed.
Unfortunately, poverty in the Niger Delta is traced to brazen corruption. Officials and state governors charged with the responsibilities of administering monies meant for the development of Niger Delta region have been accused of stealing public funds, with the NDDC being considered the most corrupt among them.