Northern Govs Demand More Share of Revenue

2012-02-24
THISDAY Newspaper- Chuks Okocha

Northern governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Northern Governors Forum Thursday bemoaned what they described as the “inequality” in the allocation of federal revenue.

They also said that there must be a review of the federal revenue allocation formula this year to address the inequality in sharing the federally collected revenue.

As a first step in their quest, the 19 Northern governors called for a review of the laws on the ownership of oil blocks on the continental shelf.

All oil blocks outside the 200 kilometres of the continental shelf should be shared as a commonwealth, they demanded, rather than allowing a few states to share the proceeds.

Speaking at the inauguration of Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation Advisory Council to advise the Northern governors on development, chairman of the forum and Niger State Governor, Dr. Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu, said: “The North today is in a very grave situation where illiteracy, poverty and general backwardness are on the rise in the face of unfavourable federation allocation structure in which the Northern states are at a great disadvantage.”
Lamenting the “unfavourable federation allocation in the Northern states,” he said.

“In Niger State, for instance, we receive N4.2 billion to N4.5 billion annually and spend over N2.1 billion on wages and salaries, leaving behind the balance of N2 billion to be spent on a population of 4.1 million people, including other exigencies of state, like social services, hospital and road construction.

“This is unlike the situation where some states collect 20 times more than what we collect with a small population.”

He added: “According to the constitution, the federation allocation formula is expected to be reviewed in every five or 10 years and we are expecting that there would be a review of the federation allocation formula within this year, 2012. We are expecting a review.”

Giving an instance of where there should be a review, Aliyu said: “Revenue from oil wells within the 200 kilometres of the continental shelf ought to be for the whole country, but the revenue goes to some states. What is happening will not serve equity and therefore we will continue to discuss until there is equilibrium.”

Aliyu, who charged the Sardauna Memorial Foundation Advisory Council headed by the former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mamman Nasir, on how the Northern states should come out of the economic blues, said: “Each one of us must therefore begin to change our mindset from parasitic and consumptive tendencies towards what we can do productively to contribute to the economic development of the region, otherwise we shall forever continue to lag behind.

“Each one of us must act with a sense of responsibility, commitment and discipline in order to achieve our developmental goals. We must realise that progress and prosperity do not come either from soft choices or on a platter of gold, not by wishful thinking or buck passing. We need to let people understand that the economic challenges before us cannot be tackled effectively by few people in government alone, everyone of us must endeavour to collaborate, cooperate and work together for the good of all so that we can get out of the woods,” he said.

Asked whether the task before the members of the Advisory Councils included the challenge of the Boko Haram, the governor said: “Yes, it will include the challenge of the security, advice on what ought or need to be done. Yes sir, it includes security in the Niger Delta, South-east, South-west. All other security challenges in Nigeria.”

He said over N17.2 billion had accrued to the foundation since inception in 2009 and it had made several investments from this.

The Advisory Council has, as members, former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie; former Chief of Army Staff, General Ibrahim Salihu; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Aminu Saleh; former governor of Borno State, Asheik Jarma; and former Director General of Nigerian Security Organisation, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi; among others.

 

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