ABOLISH JOINT STATES, LGS ACCOUNT - RMAFC
BY PETER OKUTU
ABAKALIKI- CHAIRMAN, Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, Engr. Elias Mbam, weekend, recommended that the Joint State and Local government accounts (JAC) operational in most
states be abolished to ensure the sovereignty of local government administration in the country.
He pointed out that the measure would forestall abuse of funds, especially by state governments as allocations meant for local government areas would go directly to LG accounts without any interference by state governments.
Mbam, who made the recommendation while fielding questions from newsmen in Abakaliki, assured Nigerians that a new revenue allocation formula, which would address the issue of land mass, population density, equality of states among others, would be presented to President Good luck Jonathan next year for approval.
He said: 'The Commission is of the view that the Joint State Local Government Account for local government should be abolished. The local government should be allocated funds directly in order to reduce or forestall any possible abuse or leakages. It is better.
'When I took office as the chairman, I addressed Nigerians on the need for a review of the revenue allocation formula and I promised Nigerians of our commitment to the review because it was long overdue. I went further to constitute a committee in that respect, and the committee has commenced work.
'We are conscious of the sensitivity of the assignment. We will make sure we do detailed consultations, researches and that is why it is taking quite some time. I have promised the nation that the new revenue allocation formula would be ready for presentation to the President in the first quarter of 2012.'
According to him, the commission is working towards an amendment of the constitution which would provide RMAFC with the powers of not only allocating funds to states but also monitor how they were spent for the betterment of the people.
He stressed the need for state governments to work assiduously towards increasing their internally generated revenue base, instead of depending solely on allocation from the federal government, adding that the commission had started a process of sensitizing all the geopolitical zones on the need for revenue diversification.
'Actually, that is what we are looking for in the amendment of the constitution; that the commission should be assigned the responsibility that goes beyond just allocating funds but on how the
monies are judiciously spent by the receiving states.
'Unfortunately, the law is not what it ought to be. You can only take the law on what it ought to be after the law has been amended. For now, the commission has no right in line with the law to check any
government over what they are doing with their statutory allocation.
'Our responsibility is to monitor all accruals to and disbursement to the federation account. In other words, we make sure that all incoming revenues are accounted for and that there is no leakage. We make sure that each state is credited in whatever is due to them.
And this is not good for this country. The commission has started the process of sensitizing the states and local government on diversification and enhanced revenue allocation. And in that respect, the commission has scheduled to carry out a workshop for all the geopolitical zones of this country,' Mbam said.
He hinted that the major purpose behind the review of the revenue allocation formula was not meant to either increase or decrease revenue allocation to both states and LGAs but that the process and findings of the commission would determine what was due each tier of government without bias.
He insisted that it was pertinent for the revenue allocation formula of the country to be reviewed as a matter of urgency, considering some of the transformations that had taken place in years gone by.
He also urged state governors to direct their Commissioners of Finance to always attend Federal Allocation Committee, FAC, meetings in the interest of their states.
'However, we are not reviewing the Revenue formula solely because we want to allocate more monies to states and local government areas of the country. In allocating money, we look at the responsibilities and apportion what we feel would be reasonable for the discharge of those responsibilities and that would determine what would go to each tier of government.
'We are going to study similar federation outside Nigeria who are practicing the same type of federalism with us and find out why their own is succeeding and why are we having problem with our own. It is when we have carried out these studies, researches, collection of data, and documentation that we can now establish what is fair and equitable for each tier of government,' he said.