“The Cross River State government monthly allocation from the Federation Account now stands at zero as its wage bill hits N5.1 billion.In view of this, the state is looking inwards to shore up its revenue base and has threatened to revoke the land allocation for the Cross River National Park if approval for the deep seaport and super highway is not given.
The state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, spoke in his office in Calabar when the Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Mr. Emmanuel Jime, paid him a courtesy visit at the weekend.
He said: “Our oil wells are taken away in that circumstance, we are not oil producing state” and all pressure from federal agencies and others in terms of picking security bills and others have been on the state, yet the state is being questioned on why it is collecting wharf landing dues.
“Our wage bill is about N5.1 billion when you take the local councils and the civil service put together, but we have a federal allocation of about N2 billion plus and the debt that they take at source is about N2 billion, so this state gets either zero allocation or minus or near nothing with an internal generated revenue (IGR) which is less than N500 million.”
Ayade, who promised to dredge the Calabar Port, said the state capital is not conducive for investors because of forces beyond its control.He decried the activities of tank farm operators in the state who he alleged are not willing to pay tax.
“When I went after some of the tank farm owners, I kept getting calls from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) asking me to slow down, it will cause oil scarcity and a man brings in petroleum products through our waterways which you are asking me to dredge for them. They land, discharge, pollute our water ways, kill the fishes, reduce the fishing capacity of my people, sell their petroleum products, make their margins and depart and the state gets nothing.
“The tankers destroy our local roads and we sit back and watch for Federal Government to intervene and I say, how can a state run? We don’t get IGR, we don’t get allocations, and we don’t get our oil wells back even when we decided that let do the deep seaport of our own, approval is impossible.
“National Park was a donation of the Cross River government and I am the governor. I have the right to revoke it. It is the property of the government and I own the land in store for the people of Cross River State. So, you cannot have super-abundant effect and control over the National Pack. After all, Yankari Reserves was donated by Bauchi State government, they revoked it and became a state property. I can do that
but I allowed it, I played the fool and I have also given way.
“Why is the approval not coming? Why can’t a state do a six-lane 275km super highway we asking approval for. And for two years, we can’t get an approval to do a road for our people in our own state? We are not asking you for money and you are sitting on it? Tell me, maybe I should go and do rural education, rural roads in the name of a governor, in the name of the election maybe that is when I am governor. I have a deep vision and the concept that I have an idea and I thought I will make a difference and completely to a different level and take Cross River from the dependence of allocation.”
Source: The Guardian