by Niyi Odebode and Fidelis Soriwei
Organised labour on Friday berated state governments that are complaining about the delay in receiving their monthly allocations from the national treasury.
The Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress said that state governments were not only lazy, they were also not creative about raising their internally generated revenue profiles.
They added that the size of the Federal Government was too large.
Similarly, the opposition Congress for Progressive Change, and the Campaign for Democracy called for true federalism as a panacea to some of the problems of governance in Nigeria.
TUC President Peter Esele said states could reduce their dependence on federal allocations if they were creative. Esele stated, “It’s sheer laziness. A majority of the states aren’t poor. All that is required is creativity from the leadership of these states.”
Esele cited Edo, where the IGR before Adams Oshiomhole became governor was low, adding that the revenue had been increased by over 100 per cent now. He said, “When the people know that there is service delivery, it becomes easier for the people to pay tax.
“The governors should open the books and let the people know what the money is used for. A lot of money is used for security votes; the governors should prune down their wastages. See the convoy of most of our governors. That will tell you what is happening. In other parts, you cannot spend more than you earn.”
He advised states to pay salaries and wages from taxes.
According to him, the discovery of crude oil has not done the country any good. “What it has done is that it has stopped us from thinking because at the end of the day we all come to Abuja to collect free money,” he stated.
Esele advised state governments to address the problem of corruption, saying, “When you have value for money, then the people will be encouraged to pay tax. They should open up how they spend their security votes. It would make the people to readily pay tax. I don’t think I’ll agree that the states can’t pay tax. Many states are employing an unimaginable level of special advisers, and that should not be.”
The NLC acting general-secretary, Owei Lakemfa, said dependence on federal allocation was an indication that many states are not viable. He stated, “In the first place, that is what we talk about the viability of states and unfortunately people are calling for more states creation. There is no reason states should not keep part of their allocations. They choose to spend over 100 per cent of what they have.
“We’re not supporting the FG or whoever is doing this. We support that states should have more allocation because the FG is large. We’re almost running a unitary government. We need to go back to a true federalism. The states should give the local governments the opportunity to control their allocations. Governors are known to be touching the LG allocation.”
He warned the government not to use the delay in federal allocations to increase the pump price of petrol. “Whatever happens, they must not increase the pump price of fuel. Already the one they did has increased inflation, and induced poverty,” he said.
The CPC National Publicity Secretary, Rotimi Fashakin, said that hope of true federalism was vanishing in the country. He stated, “The status quo of an excessively strong centre gladdens some powerful interests among us because it facilitates the opacity that we see in the governance of the state.
“The idea of states as federating units coming every month cap-in-hand to beg for their allocations is primitive. The hubris of the FG in dispensing these allocations was seen in Obasanjo’s government in withholding the allocation of Lagos State (against the order of the court).
“The question is, Should more financially unviable geographical entities be made states or federating units to add to the number?” he asked.
Also, the CD president, Joe Okei-Odumakin, described states’ reliance on federal allocations as anomalous. She stated, “The resources are in the states, but transferred to Abuja for redistribution. It is time to restructure this country to reflect the true spirit and essence of federalism.”
THE PUNCH had on Wednesday reported that state governments were angry at the delay in receiving their allocations from the federation account.
The national treasury is said to be empty as a result of the alleged failure of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to remit oil revenue into the Federation Account.
The Federation Account Allocation Committee meeting initially scheduled for April 12 and 13 was consequently postponed to April 19 and 20.
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