Federal Government Also Has Funding Challenges – Buhari Reminds Governors

Source: thewillnigeria.com

SAN FRANCISCO, April 29 (THEWILL) – President Muhammadu Buhari has told governors of the 36 states of the Federation that his government was not immune from the funding challenges they are facing, even as he promised to do all within his ability to salvage the states from the financial mess they have found themselves.

He stated this at the Aso Rock presidential villa in Abuja on Thursday during a meeting with the governors, who had gone to pile pressures on the Federal Government to help cushion the effects of the economic crisis on states.

They demanded a total review of the current revenue sharing formula, insisting that it was not helping them in view of the present economic realities. The current revenue formula provided by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, gives the Federal Government 52 percent, states 26.72 percent and local governments 20.60 percent from the Federation Account.

In his response, Buhari expressed concerns that despite the bailout funds provided to states by the Federal Government about two-thirds of them were still having difficulties paying salaries. He however promised to make more funds available to state governments to meet their financial obligations, including payment of salaries.

The President said that he was very disturbed by the hardship, which state government workers across the country and their families were facing due to the non-payment of salaries. As a step to ameliorate this hardship, he stated that government at the national level was working to make more money available to the states by expediting action on refunds due to them for the maintenance of federal roads and other expenses incurred on behalf of the Federal Government.

Buhari agreed to the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to study a Fiscal Restructuring Plan for the Federation, which was presented to him by the governors. He said that the committee would review the plan to improve the finances of state governments and make recommendations on how proposals in the plan should be dealt with by the Presidency, the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly through legislation.

The President however urged the governors to understand that while he was ready to do all within his powers to help the states overcome their current financial challenges, the Federal Government also has its own funding problems to contend with, stressing that “You all know the problems we have found ourselves in. You have to bear with us”.

In their remarks, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum, NGF, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, who chaired the committee that worked on the Fiscal Restructuring Plan, asked the Federal Government to do more to help the states financially.

The governors were optimistic that the implementation of the Fiscal Restructuring Plan would help them to deal with their funding problems on short, medium and long-term bases. They noted that if the plan was adopted and implemented by the Federal Government, states of the federation would become more financially empowered to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities.

The states' chief executives equally assured the President that they had resolved to take other measures to boost their internally generated revenue.