The Northern part of the country has under the umbrella of the Northern Governors Forum (NGF) and Northern Elders Forum (NEF) renewed its demand for a review of the present federal revenue sharing formula. According to the official paper made public last month after their meeting, they continued their agitation an improved allocation to the region.
In their statement, the current sharing formula is unfavourable to development in that region of the country. They stated that the 13 percent given to the oil producing states presently is unjust to other states in Nigeria, explaining that the visible defect is hugely responsible for the socio-economic problems and poor sates of infrastructures and even non existence of certain structures in the North.
One of my friends and a colleague with whom I discussed this matter told me that these governors are ‘Oliver Twist’ kind of governors, selfish, myopic and greedy. That they are always looking for excuses for their failures. He went further by telling me that there are other ways to generate revenue aside oil as we have seen in Lagos Sate. Well, to an extent I agree with him that what we need in this country is idea driven, innovative and creative governors.
In response to their Northern counterpart, the South Southern Governors claimed that an increment from the present 13 percent to about 50 percent of the whole revenue would be the fairest formula to adopt. This immediately reminded of the ever contentious issue of resource control advocated by the South Southern people in 2008 during the administration of the late President, Umaru Yar’dua. All these point to one thing that there is lack of true fiscal federalism which is one those time bombs waiting to explode if not effectively handled now.
It is true that bad allocation framework could among other problems lead to underdevelopment, for those in the negative end of such schemes. A clear example of this is the degradation of aquatic life in the Niger-Delta area of the country due to the activities of the oil companies whose operations usually run counter to the healthy living for the host communities.
In 2008 when this problem arose, the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), proposed what some stakeholders saw as an equitable and fair formula for wealth sharing in Nigeria in a way that the Federal Government will get 53.69 percent, States will receive 31.10 percent and Local Government will make do with the remaining 15.21 percent of national revenue but such suggestion was rejected for being unfair to some regions.
It is regrettable that no government in this country- not even the Military has been able to resolve this issue as important and fractious as it is. If this matter is not properly resolved for the benefit of all regions in this country, it has the potential of undermining our sovereignty as a nation.
This present administration should summon the much needed courage to break the age long revenue allocation jinx else the country heads for another avoidable crisis.
In resolving this, the overall consideration should be that of the country’s (national) interest and not unrealistic and selfish regional desires.
If it is impossible to develop a generally approved formula in resolving this due to the regional differences as the case may be, I, in that case advise the Northern Governors, South Southern Governors, Northern Elders and other Stake holders to sheath their swords and accept in good faith the existing revenue sharing formula. After all, the country was doing well before the discovery of oil in Oloibiri. May God save us from Lazy and excuse giving governors!
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