BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE, Deputy Political Editor
PLANS by the governors of the 36 states of the country to protest the Federal Government’s heavy deductions from the Federation Account in the name of fuel subsidy, which they said was adversely affecting statutory allocations to the states, have elicited mixed reactions in the polity.
The sum of N304 billion was deducted from federally collected revenue between January and February this year instead of a budgeted N148 billion for the two months, representing an additional N74 billion monthly.
The governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), said mid-week that they were concerned by the deduction from the federation account because it affected the various states.
Arbitrary deductions from the Federation Account, especially from oil revenue have continued to generate tension between the two tiers of government. On several occasions in recent times, state commissioners of finance, acting on directives from their governors, had rejected distributable funds as declared by the Federal Ministry of Finance until more money was added.
NGF Director-General, Asishana Bayo Okauru, said that the governors attached a lot of seriousness to the issue and would discuss it at their meeting before taking their protest to President Goodluck Jonathan.
It was learnt that state finance commissioners had sent a memo to the governors on the need to be firm against unilateral deductions by the Federal Government from what should be a common fund for the three tiers of government, as well as, other statutory bodies such as the National Assembly, the Judiciary, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that receive funds based on statutory transfers.
Reactions to the governors’ complaints yesterday were mixed. While some applauded the state helmsmen, others chided them for being lazy and failing to harness the enormous resources in their areas to boost internally generated revenue instead of running to Abuja cap-in-hand every month begging for allocations.
States should import oil consumed in their domains – Odumakin
Speaking on the issue, Mr Yinka Odumakin, spokesperson of Congress for Progressive Change 2011 Presidential Candidate, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), said he was happy the governors had started appreciating the graft characterising the fuel subsidy matter.
“It is a good development that the governors are seeing what the Occupy Nigeria Movement saw in January that the issue in the subsidy is corruption. The governors should help the system by auditing the volume of fuel they consume daily in their states and insist on importing themselves until we are able to refine locally. That is the way to stop this scam that the Federal Government is using to feed fat cats,” he said.
The governors should bury their heads in shame – CNPPHowever, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), said even though it was not siding the Federal Government’s action, the governors should be flayed “for their failure to be innovative, creative and explorative of the comparative advantages they have.”
Said CNPP National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Osita Okechukwu: “Every state of Nigeria has capacity to create wealth. I don’t know any state that is not fertile in terms of agriculture and does not have mineral resources to be exploited. The governors have been consumed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) philosophy, which is ‘food is ready’ and motto of ‘share the money.’
What most states get as monthly allocation is what some West African countries get as monthly revenue. Yet, these West African countries have better standard of living than Nigeria. No governor can account for the allocation he has received in the last three months.
“ I am not supporting the action of the Federal Government but if the governors want the Federal Government to be prudent in sharing oil money, they should work towards free and fair elections. If you help to enthrone a bad government, you cannot expect tangible results.”