By Deola Badru
As more states take steps to get the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, to release funds from the Development of Natural Resources Fund as provided for by the Revenue Allocation (Federation Account) Act, the commission has called for judicious use of the funds whenever the money is released to them, even as it has encouraged the Oyo State government to diversify its economy.
So far, Lagos, Plateau, Cross River, Yobe, Bauchi, Ogun and Oyo states have applied for the funds, to enable them invest in the three core areas recognised by the Act-agriculture, tourism and solid minerals development.
The latest state to have applied for the funds is Oyo State.
Officials of the commission were in Ibadan to assess the projects which the state intends to undertake once their request for the money is granted.
The Fund receives direct allocation from the federation account on a monthly basis and is added to the share of the federal government to be kept in trust for the three tiers of government.
The money is in the custody of RMAFC and can be accessed by states once they can convince the commission of the viability of the projects they intend to fund. But it can only be released by the president, Muhammadu Buhari, on the recommendation of RMAFC’s committee on fiscal efficiency and budget.
During a courtesy visit on Governor Seyi Makinde, chairman of the commission’s committee in charge of the Funds, Adamu Shettima Yuguda Dibal told the governor that the commission would be fair and just in processing the state’s request in line with its mandate.
He said the visit to Oyo State was “part of the process required for accessing the requested funds. At the end of the exercise, a report will be generated by the committee with recommendations on the appropriate amount the state should access.
Deputy Chairman of the committee, Mr Alfred Egba, who represents Bayelsa State in the commission, who spoke in an interview after the visit, said that he was impressed with the projects which the government planned to undertake with the money requested.
He reiterated the willingness and readiness of the commission to follow due process before, during and after the funds must have been released to the interested states. Egba said: “This is the people’s money that must be used for the good of the people. So, we encourage the various states to make sure that they use the money for the intended purposes.
“We have seen all the projects the Oyo State government plans to embark on if they get the money. It is the same thing we did in the other states we went to. Ours is to make sure the rights things are done and the right processes followed before the money can be approved by Mr President and released by our commission.”
Makinde had told the committee that his government planned to use the N112billion to revamp the Ado-Awaye Mountain and Suspended Lake, which he said was the first in Africa and the second in the world.
Other projects to be embarked upon with the funds include the Agodi Garden and Hills development, construction of access road to tourist sites, investment in cassava and poultry farms and other agricultural endeavours.