Sharing Formula: Now, What Are These Governors Up To? By: Ifeanyi Izeze
What has come to be apparent with those who called themselves our leaders in this country is that they have refused to upgrade their mindsets from the installed area council and autonomous community mentalities to begin to see Nigeria as just one big stage with one people.
Where is northern Nigeria and where is southern (south-south) Nigeria when we look at the issue of poverty and underdevelopment? You see, the real and authentic Nigerians don't have problems with themselves. What we see today as divisions were mere creations on both sides to manipulate all of us for their selfish interest particularly political gains.
Is it not surprising that our governors and other so called leaders who should be working to insist on the unity of this country should be the ones making uncouth pronouncements to tear us apart further on an issue which could have otherwise been discussed and agreed behind closed doors at the Governors Forum and then at the National Assembly?
The governors since the inception of this administration had been speaking with one voice on several critical issues of national concern as clearly shown when they forced President Goodluck Jonathan to withdraw subsidy on petroleum products so that they can have more money to share. They also forced the federal government to swallow the idea of a sovereign wealth fund. So why do they decide to be sectional on this issue of review of the sharing formula which at best is also a national concern?
Niger State Governor,
Muazu Babangida Aliyu, who doubles as the Chairman, Northern Governorsâ€™ Forum had blamed the existing revenue sharing formula among the tiers of government for the slow development of the North and the current boko haram menace in parts of the region, alleging that the oil producing states were being favoured at the expense of the north.
But the six South-South
governors at their first ordinary session of the BRACED Commission Governorsâ€™ Council in Calabar on Wednesday 14th March said the tone of the clamour for the alteration of derivation and revenue sharing formula by the Northern governors â€œwas unfortunate and misplaced,â€ as they tend to blame the oil producing south-south states for their failures to improve the living conditions of their people.
No doubt, when the Niger state governor, at the inauguration of the advisory council of Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation in Abuja demanded a review of the revenue allocation formula within the year to redress what he perceived as imbalance that has put the northern states at a disadvantage, he knew what he was doing.
As we have it today, the revenue allocation formula is 56.68 percent for the federal government; 26.72 percent for the state; and 20.6 percent for council areas, while 13 percent is given to the oil producing states as derivation.
Maybe it's time we let these governors know, if they don't that there is enough tension and divide in the country for anybody or group to attempt to worsen the already bad situation? Where are they supposed to discuss the issue of review of revenue allocation formula- in the media or at the National Assembly?
Is review of revenue allocation template no longer a constitutional matter? So why are our politicians mischievously tilting it to look as if it's a political campaign and rotational presidency issue?
The constitution in the first instance says nothing less than 13 percent should be given to regions where resources are being sourced from and the federal government is currently implementing that.
What was expected for any person or group that thinks we should do it differently is to initiate the amendment of sections of our Constitution that deal with that particular issue rather than to create another kind of haram when we have not contained the existing boko.
These politicians should be told to their face that they have failed the real Nigerians. Governors from both the north and the south (south-south) are as guilty as the other in this case. No one group is guiltier than the other and they should just stop manipulating the emotions of the real Nigerians into contention with each other.
The small amount the northern governors currently get, what have they been able to do with it? Nothing! Can we in real terms actually say the south-south governors have truly used the huge allocations they received to serve the peoples of their areas? The answer is also, No!
It has been alleged that the clamour for increased revenue to the northern states from the central purse was a strategic counter to the call for a sovereign national conference which is gathering momentum from the south especially the south- south.
Look at this: The northern governors forum amongst other politicians from the region that are vehemently opposed to any idea of a sovereign national conference are now the ones calling for an immediate review of the revenue sharing formula which may ultimately play into the hands of those who are calling for true fiscal federalism, an issue that can be addressed only at a national conference of whatever name. You see the deceit or rather how shallow our so called leaders are in their thinking?
It is actually funny because if we convene a sovereign national conference today, the most critical consensus to be reached, if Nigeria will continue practicing federalism, is fiscal federalism.
Do we need to tell these rulers on both sides that a greater distribution of resources from the central purse will not lift the north or the south out of poverty? Instead, it is the quality of leadership or rather the will-power to be honest and governance structures that are put in place that will make the needed difference.
Poor governance or rather lack of creativity, corruption, short-sightedness, and now, insecurity, have contributed to stifling development and is increasing poverty across the country though some groups argue that the situation is worse in the northern section of the country which is a blatant lie.
As was rightly said, It should be very
clear by now to those who say they lead us that the solution to the gross poverty and underdevelopment both in the north and south (south-south) lies in the will-power to judiciously use whatever is available to improve the living conditions and standards of the governed who actually own the resources.
If these politicians especially the governors are really desirous of lifting their different peoples out of poverty, they would need to change their agitation for a greater share of the oil wealth to fiscal autonomy and better leadership.
Though there may be some imbalances in some of the indices used in designing the present revenue sharing formula, some of these governors should actually bury their heads in shame because from obvious indications, they are using this campaign to mask non-performance, corruption and squandering of funds meant for the development of their areas.
Is it not disgraceful or rather criminal that almost all the states rely on the monthly handout from the Federation Account to meet even their wage bill? How long can we continue like this?
IFEANYI IZEZE IS
AN ABUJA-BASED CONSULTANT ON STRATEGY AND COMMUNICATION