From Abel Leonard, Lafia
Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule has emphasised the need for states in the country to look inwards with a view to generating internal revenue, as it’s no longer feasible for states to solely depend on monthly federal subvention.
Sule disclosed this on Monday while answering questions as a guest on Channels Television, and TVC as monitored in Lafia, by Daily Sun Correspondent on Monday.
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Speaking on the proposed 41 per cent sharing formula between the federal, state and local governments, he said it would bring about significant improvement in the areas of infrastructure and managing both states and local governments, still it will not be able to address the myriads of challenges confronting the states.
According to the governor, even with the anticipated increase in the sharing formula, there is the need for states to braze up and devise means of generating internal revenue to be able to exist independent of federal allocation.
He pointed out that even though the states, through the agency of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), are in support of jerking up the sharing formula to 41 per cent, still when approved, the anticipated increase will not be able to the problems being confronted by the states.
‘This is going to address just a few areas, especially in the areas of SRA, the salaries and the rest of that. But when we come to infrastructure, the states must find ways to generate revenue. That’s the only way you can address most of the problems and lapses that we are having,’ he stated.
On whether the states are doing enough to optimise the abundant mineral resources found in each of the 36 states of the country, Engineer Sule agreed that most of the states have great potential but that these are not being explored.
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He cited an example of Nasarawa State where in spite of its proximity to the Federal Capital, it was among the least revenue-generating states.
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‘When we came in in 2019, the state generated revenue of a little over N7 billion for the whole year. That’s just an average of a little over N500m monthly. That’s nothing to talk about. We didn’t even go into exploring new avenues of revenue, what we did was just go and plug some of the leakages in the first year. By 2020, our revenue base actually rose to somewhere around 11 billion that year and by 2021, our revenue base grew to N16.9 billion,’ he explained.
He said it has even become necessary for the states to look inward because of challenges posed by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, with states now forced to pay back monies given by the Federal Government as an intervention at the height of the pandemic.
The Governor said that informed the decision of his administration to host an investment summit which will hold from the 11-12 May, where it is expected the state will showcase its potential before investors.
‘A lot of states have great potential but until we look at those potentials, we cannot continue to look at the Federal Government as means of revenue. We have to look inwards and I think that is what most of the states are doing,’
He explained why his administration is focusing on attracting big commercial agribusinesses into the state, as well as investors interested in mining, adding that adequate steps have been taken to ensure ease of doing business in the state.
‘We decided to start attracting and promoting big commercial businesses coming into the state because our state is a mining state, an agricultural state, we decided to focus more and more into those areas and attracting the big businesses like the Dangote agribusiness, the Flour Mills, Azman, agribusiness and Olams Nigeria Limited,’ he stated.
He added that his administration is putting measures on the ground to the government focus on its areas of strength, especially in the areas of agriculture and mining, with the youth essentially the target.
‘Nasarawa State has been lucky to be closer to the FCT and has attracted a huge amount of youth in addition to the ones we already had. Yet Nasarawa State may not be blessed with so many industries. Agricultural projects are the biggest opportunity for employment, and the employment of our youth is our target. That is why we are focusing on technical and vocational training so that our youths will be well equipped to work in the emerging industries,’ Sule added.