APC chieftain raises alarm over Bayelsa debt profile

Advises Diri against intimidation of whistleblower

Kuwekuzi Aigbe

A leader and founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bayelsa State, Dr. Godwin Sidi, has expressed worry over the alleged alarming debt profile of the state from the figure gotten from the Debt Management Office (DMO).

Though Sidi did not indicate the amount the state government was owing, he said he would unveil it subsequently in the weeks ahead.

In an interview with our correspondent, he demanded to know what Governor Douye Diri intended to do differently concerning the huge debt profile as against what his immediate predecessor, Senator Seriake Dickson, did while in office.

He also called on Diri to run an open system of government and all-inclusive governance so that the people of the state could feel the dividends of democracy.

Sidi stated: “Diri needs to operate an open system of government, all-inclusive governance so that people can also feel the dividends of democracy. I also know that some money was returned as part of the dualisation of some roads in Bayelsa.

“We have also heard of loans taken for agriculture yet the people are yet to see anything. The governor should go beyond rhetorics and address the fundamental issues of governance as we pray for his administration to succeed for the good of all.”

The APC leader also slammed the Douye Diri administration for allegedly not answering the questions raised by a whistleblower, Dr. John Idumange, about the N3bn agriculture loan acquired by the government for farmers.

Sidi, a former Interim Secretary of the APC, said the government needed to clear the air on the allegations rather than resorting to intimidation and harassment of the whistleblower.

Idumange, a former General Manager of the state-owned Broadcasting Corporation, Glory FM, had accused the Diri’s government of diverting the N3bn agric loan to the private pockets of some individuals, particularly ranking officials of the government.

Idumange was arrested at the gate of a popular radio station in Yenagoa where he was expected to speak on the disbursement formula of the loan and unveil names of beneficiaries, whom he claimed diverted the funds for their personal use.

He was thereafter arrested by the police and charged to court for seditious comments on government officials.

Sidi faulted the state government’s action, rationalising that in a democratic setting, people have the right to ask their leaders questions and they ought to oblige them explanations.

Sidi, therefore, urged the government to answer those fundamental questions being asked rather than using the state’s apparatus to intimidate, harass or detain someone who wanted to know something from his leaders.

He said: “It is funny that when a citizen asks fundamental questions, instead of addressing the issue with a simple explanation, the government resorts to intimidation, harassment, or detention of the person.

“My admonition is that when people like Dr. John Idumange or any other person in the state asks questions, the government should explain, even though their answer is no. It will serve the people better. Therefore, we are still waiting for answers to those fundamental issues raised.

“From my observation recently, Bayelsa has become an ‘open prison’. Though people are freely moving about they are not happy and frustration is all over their faces while the appointees and those in government are laughing to the banks. The complaints of the people are not helping matters.”

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