Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa, yesterday, called on Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to review the formula for sharing revenue in respect of oil and gas production in the country.
Diri made the call while declaring open a two-day stakeholders’ sensitisation forum on use of natural gas as alternative energy, in Yenagoa, the state capital.
The governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, frowned at the present revenue sharing formula, saying that it grossly lacked equity and justice for a gas-producing state like Bayelsa.
According to him, although Bayelsa ranks as the highest gas-producing state in the country, it has yet to enjoy the full benefits of its huge natural gas endowment.
Diri said that gas flaring had constituted a serious threat to the people and their right to life, especially in the Niger Delta zone.
He pointed out that Bayelsa had continued to make heavy sacrifices to keep the economy of the nation afloat, adding that in many of its communities, the difference between night and day had been obliterated.
While expressing concern over the severe health losses which gas flaring has caused the people, the governor maintained that the region had lost over $11 billion to the menace.
Diri thanked the Gas Monitoring Committee of RMAFC for choosing Bayelsa for the forum and called on all stakeholders to seize the opportunity to make valuable inputs to better the lots of the state.
“Bayelsa, as we all know, is the leading producer of gas in the country.
“For this reason, we should be principal stakeholders in the decisions and outcomes of any conversation about the future of gas in the Nigerian economy.
“Gas flaring has been a severe menace in the Niger Delta.
“It has led to several economic and health losses by our people, and the Federal Government continues to lose potential revenue from gas flaring.
“The environmental and socio-economic impacts of gas flaring have resulted in an estimated loss of over $11 billion in Nigeria.
“Yet, Nigeria continues to pay lip-service to the menace of gas flaring and had, several times, shifted the target date for stopping this misnomer.
He, therefore, called on RMAFC and FIRS to recalibrate their revenue sharing formulae, especially as it concerns the production of oil and gas.
“It is absurd that while gas is being flared here in Bayelsa, it is another state and the federal government that are benefitting greatly from the menace.
“Clearly, there is no equity in the present revenue sharing in terms of oil and gas production in Nigeria,” he said.
In his keynote address, the Chairman, Gas Monitoring Committee, Hon. Patrick Mgbebu, assured that the commission would discharge its constitutional responsibility to ensure the commercialisation of abundant gas resources in the state by the federal government.
This, according to Mgbebu, will go a long way in reducing the incidences of gas flaring being perpetrated by oil companies in their host communities.
He emphasised the need for Bayelsa to provide an enabling environment for industrialisation, adding that the state stood to benefit a lot if gas was put into more use in industries, such as cement, textiles, glass and fertiliser plants.