*Faults management of Soveriegn Wealth Fund
By Austin Ogwuda
Asaba—DELTA State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has reiterated the need to revisit the issue of fiscal federalism in the country, noting that it was absurd that state governors, each time, virtually go on their knees, begging for their share of revenue allocation due their respective states in Abuja.
Soveriegn Wealth Fund
He equally faulted the management of the Sovereign Wealth Fund and suggested that states should be allowed to decide what they want to save and do with their savings in that direction since they are not appendages of the Federal Government.
Uduaghan spoke, weekend, in Asaba at a lecture to mark the 2nd anniversary of the fifth Assembly of Delta State House of Assembly, tagged ‘Legislative Issues in Fiscal Federalism in Nigeria.’
He said: “This is an issue that is dear to everybody in Nigeria. Sometimes, people say the man (Uduaghan) lives in Abuja and that he goes to Abuja every day. Well, it is not that I love flying, thank God we have an airport now. You know before, we used to drive to Benin for about one and half hours to take a flight to Abuja. It is because if you don’t go to Abuja, your state will not get its due. You virtually have to be on your knees to get what is due to your state.
“That would not happen if we are practising fiscal federalism but because we are not practising it, the states have to go to Abuja, struggle and beg for what is due to them. I am sure many of you know my thought on the issue of fiscal federalism especially as somebody from the oil producing area.
Not against SWF
“We are also not against Sovereign Wealth Fund, what we are against is the way and manner the fund is being managed. States should be allowed to decide what to save and what to do with their savings.”
Wants VAT law reviewed
Uduaghan also called for the immediate review of the Value Added Tax, VAT law to enable each state government collect VAT in their locality and remit an agreed percentage to the Federal Government.
He pointed out that it was unfair that “we collect VAT on alcohol in Delta State and the money is being shared to some states in the North where alcohol is prohibited. This is not acceptable.”
Also speaking on the occasion, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said that “unfortunately, while fiscal federalism and enhanced resource control have become a reoccurring decimal in the Constitution amendment process since 1999, they have failed to garner the requisite support to scale through due to embedded fears. But the fear of resource control is unfounded. Fiscal federalism goes hand-in-hand with the prosperity of every federal state. Therefore, a paradigm shift is long overdue.
States mineral resources
“Instructively, every state of the federation, without exception, has more than enough to be self reliant and economically buoyant. An analysis of mineral resources available in each state in commercial quantities shows that Abia State has 19. The rest are Adamawa – 13, Akwa Ibom – 11, Anambra – 8, Bauchi – 35, Bayelsa – 4, Benue – 32, Borno – 23, Cross River – 28, Delta 12, Ebonyi – 8, Edo – 11, Ekiti – 13, Imo – 8, Jigawa – 10, Kaduna – 13, Kano – 20, Katsina – 23, Kebbi – 10, Koji – 14, Kwara – 12, Lagos – 6, Nasarawa – 15, Niger – 17, Ogun – 11, Ondo – 6 Osun – 10 and Oyo – 13.
“Others are Plateau – 16, Rivers – 5, Sokoto – 10, Enugu – 11, FCT – 10, Gombe – 11, Taraba – 18, Yobe – 15 and Zamfara – 8.
These do not include our rich farmlands and tourism potentials. Unfortunately, everything lies dormant in preference to free money.”
“No state makes progress this way. One thing is sure, we cannot continue like this for long, as it is very unsustainable. It is either we wake up to these realities or it will not only wake us up, but force itself on us soon.”