BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG

A LABOUR delegate and Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Issa Aremu, has said the current impasse on revenue sharing formula is avoidable if patriotism replaces parochialism and unhealthy competition gives way to national solidarity and cooperation for development.

He insisted that delegates have the responsibility to consolidate on the gains so far and avoid the pitfall of failure arising from unnecessary hardened positions on revenue distribution formula.

Delegates at the ongoing national confernce

In a statement, Aremu said: “Delegates must think outside the box of divisive sharing formula to all inclusive revenue growing/production formula. The truth of the matter is that we must grow this economy before it can be shared. Oil and gas that constitute the base of the derivation principle is weak, due to oil theft and relatively low exploration. Nigeria hitherto was the sixth producer of oil. We are now 13th oil producing nation almost rivaled by Angola we helped to liberate.

Thus with the best of formula we are only sharing limited resources that can hardly go round to alleviate poverty. Notwithstanding rebased Gross Domestic Product, GDP that puts us as the largest economy in the continent, in real GDP per capital South Africa and Ghana are better than Nigeria. The challenge for delegates including myself lies in not just sharing what is not enough but in growing what will be enough to build prosperity for our people.
We must compliment distributive approach with production component to fiscal federalism.”

According to him, “Already 2014 Conference has made a lot of progress through compromises. 19 committee reports on diverse issues as Industry, trade and investment, labour, religion, energy, political restructuring and Foreign policy among others had passed without rancour.

The only remaining committee outstanding is the one dealing with devolution of powers.  Even at that over 90 per cent of the amendments of the report had passed.
The report commendably retains the Labour issues such as minimum wage, trade unions, industrial disputes, safety on the exclusive legislative list of the constitution.

Exclusive legislative list

“Of course there are some controversial recommendations such as that dealing with local governments and state creation. In essence, the most naughty is the recommendation on revenue formula. Again progress has been made on that. For instance, in place of the divisive ‘Winner-takes-all’ demand for resource control, the Committee on Devolution of Powers reaffirms the win-win principle of derivation as enshrined in the constitution. It is just a matter of percentage left. Devil is in the details.

The consensus building committee commendably recommends that resource producing states get not less than 18 per cent, 5 per cent increase from the current fiscal regime of 13 per cent.
That is a lot of sacrifices on the part of the non-oil producing states.

Given that most states are already broke, the new proposed formula may even worsen the plight of most states. But this is part of the process of compromise for nation building.  There is certainly not enough for everybody’s need not to talk of somebody’s greed.”

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