As the debate for the restructuring of the country rages, Governor, Abiola Ajimobi Oyo State, has called on the Federal Government to surrender the control and management of revenue accruing from natural resources to owner-states.
The governor canvassed the position as a panellist at the ongoing 57thn Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, where he presented a paper on “Debt as a drag on institution building,” in Lagos, yesterday.
Other speakers at the session were the Ghanaian Minister of Finance, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Mrs. Patience Oniha.
In what he described as a warped federalism that favours the FG, the governor said that the states have continued to rely heavily on the centre for the bulk of the revenue to manage its affairs.
Ajimobi said, “There is an urgent need for fiscal independence for the states if we are to be free from going to Abuja monthly cap in hand to collect allocations. Let the states control some of the resources in their domain.
“Let the FG unbundle some of the responsibilities in its care. Some of the items currently on the exclusive legislative list should be moved to the concurrent list. For, instance, there is no reason why the FG should be giving licenses to miners in my state.
“We need to revisit this arrangement so that the states will not perpetually be at the mercy of the FG. The practice is stifling the development of the states. Financial independence will reduce the rate at which states obtain loans.”
The governor had blamed the country’s high debt profile on political and economic instability, policy fluctuations, bribery and corruption, misappropriation, non-adherence to sound economic philosophy, weak institutions and deficient legal frameworks.
In his presentation, Ghana’s finance minister recalled his country’s financial journey post-2007 debt forgiveness by creditors; a period during which he said Ghana witnessed economic growth and turnaround.
Ofori-Atta blamed what he described as the unfortunate misappropriation of the country’s loans over time for its retrogression to 73 per cent debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio and a decline in growth rate.
On her part, the DMO boss said that her office had done its bits towards attaining fiscal sustainability, stressing that borrowing was part of the budget implementation of the office since its creation in 2000, following the country’s exit from the Paris Club.
Oniha urged the FG to create paths for states and corporate bodies to raise capitals and bonds as availed by commercial banks.
She described the country’s revenue as under-performing, equating it to that of Bangladesh, adding that “our revenue level is very low because apart from new borrowing, the old borrowing is piling.”