In the build-up to the November 16 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa state, claims and counterclaims have continued to trail media conversations; with party loyalists promoting their flagbearers in a bid to garner the highest number of votes from the electorate, at the poll.
Notable among these, is a claim on Bayelsa’s population, allocation and the effect on unpaid salaries. The Twitter user, who made the claims, questioned the fact that Bayelsa’s government owes a nine-month salary amidst having the highest allocation in the country- N66.76bn. He further based this argument on the apparent population of the state; the same population size as Alimosho local government area of Lagos state.
The statement was premised on the state government’s response to a claim by the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees; that it currently owes council workers in the state 16 months’ salary arrears.
Does the Bayelsa government owe nine-month salaries to local government workers?
It is hard to know for sure, consequent on the lack of transparency and uniformity in the salary payment system set in place- across LGAs in the state.
Findings show Bayelsa state does not have a unified salary distribution system amongst its various local government areas (LGAs). Owing to this, the salary arrears in different LGAs will vary, according to Nathan Nwakama- NAN Journalist. He further added that the payment of salaries was up to the individual LG chairman; that is after funds are received from the state.
“That 16 may be accurate for some local governments… So, if they are owing 7 months’ salary arrears in a local government, it could 8, 10 or 12 in another local government”Nathan Nwakama- Journalist from the News Agency of Nigeria (Bayelsa)
Hence, people could take advantage of the lack of uniformity in the salary distribution system for political reasons; such as admitting the least indebtedness, particularly with less than a week for the state to go to the poll. This discrepancy makes it cumbersome to accurately ascertain the truth. For all intents and purposes, the government could be owing 16-month salary or 5, we would not know.
Does Bayelsa have the same population as Alimosho LG?
Alimosho is the most populated Local Government Area (LGA) in the country, according to available records. Yet, it is still smaller in size than Bayelsa state.
Normally, we would refer to the nations population census. This would contain details of Nigeria’s population with a breakdown of states and local governments’ contributions. However, the last census was conducted in 2006.
The data show Bayelsa state had a population of 1.7 million in 2006 when the last population census was conducted. This is higher than 1.31 million population recorded in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos state.
Also, with Bayelsa’s annual population growth rate of 2.9%, (based on the 2006 population census), the state’s population was projected to have hit 2.27 million in 2016. This is as against- Alimosho- estimated to have a population of 1.81 million people in the same year.
Is Bayelsa’s Federal Allocation The Fourth Highest?
Bayelsa received the fourth highest allocation in the country, at least for most of this year. However, the N66.76 billion allegedly received by Bayelsa could not be verified.
There are three major ways states raise money excluding special grants from local or international sources.
- The monthly Federation Allocation Account Committee (FAAC)
- Internally generated revenue which includes taxes and revenues from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)
But, since the claim expressly said federal allocation, we will limit our focus to the FAAC.
FAAC was established under Section 6 of the Allocation of Revenue Act 1982. The section prescribes the basis for the disbursement of federal government’s revenues credited into the Federation Account.
Next, we utilized the FAAC disbursement from January to September 2019- collated by Business Day. This corresponds to the latest available data on FAAC’s monthly disbursement on NBS– during the writing of this report. The intel shows that Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa and Lagos received the highest allocation; in that order, for most of the months within the period. This allocation excludes revenue distribution to local government councils of the federation.
Lagos state displaced Bayelsa from the fourth position in June and July 2019. But, the south-south state reclaimed its spot in August; following the receipt of N13.4 billion. This clearly exceeded Lagos’ N9.7 billion allocation.
Similarly, the cumulative allocation disbursed to Bayelsa state for the first nine months of this year stood at N102.4 billion. This edges over an aggregate allocation of N88.4 billion distributed to Lagos state.
This fact-check was done by a Dubawa Fact-checking Fellow in collaboration with BusinessDay, the leading medium for up-to-date news and insightful analysis of business, policy and the economy in Nigeria.