Unlike other states of the federation where the N2bn palliative fund as well as food items received from the federal government were already disbursed to citizens to cushion the effects of subsidy removal, residents in Bayelsa have waited endlessly for the prosperity government of Senator Douye Diri to roll out plans for distribution, to get the much-needed succour as a way out of the biting socio-economic realities,leadership reports.
The federal government had earlier announced the release of N2billion from the N5billion loan it offered to each state as a palliative to cushion the impact of the petrol subsidy removal.
The Bayelsa State government also confirmed receipt of the N2billion palliative fund as well as two trucks of food items, but had since kept mute on the mode of distribution of the palliatives to the people of Bayelsa in spite of the sufferings caused by hike in prices of food items and transportation.
However, it was alleged that the N2billion and the trucks of food palliatives was used by the state government for campaigns during the recently concluded off-cycle governorship election in the state.
A source close to government who spoke in confidence alleged that a portion of the food items, particularly rice was allegedly repackaged and shared to various wards on the eve of the election as part of incentives for vote-buying.
While responding to questions on the N2billion palliative fund during the transparency briefing for the months of June and July 2023, the special adviser to the Governor on Treasury Accounts & Revenue, Timipre Seipulou, said that the state government was working on a comprehensive programme on its expenditure and will give account of how it was spent at the next transparency briefing which comes up in December or January 2024.
According to a rights advocate and member of Civil Liberty Organization (CLO), Mr. David West, the state government was very much silent about the palliative under the guise that it was electioneering period, adding, “but two days to the election, surprisingly, we begin to see these rice rolling out.
“For some we see pictures of even the governor on it. They began to share some of these rice to communities through wards and the few ones I saw they were sharing was done by members of the ruling party because it was given to ward chairmen to go to their various wards and share.