May 15, 2023

Pay teachers, pensioners, others Okonjo-Iweala tells incoming, re-elected governors 


By Henry Umoru

THE Director-General of World Trade Organisation, WTO, Dr Ngozi OkonjoIweala, has urged incoming and re-elected governors to be mindful of acquiring huge debt profile for their various states. 

She said this on Monday at the opening of the 2023 induction for re-elected and elected governors with the theme: “Governing for Impact (Building Sub-national Governance)”, organised by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF).

The former Finance Minister urged the governors to invest in infrastructure, education and basic healthcare to endeavour to pay teachers, healthcare workers and pensioners. 

Okonjo-Iweala called on states to publish federation revenue allocation and IGR that accrue to them to earn citizens trust and keep them abreast of their finances.

She said: “We used to publish this information during my time as finance minister under President Obasanjo and Jonathan’s administrations.

“You must resume this practice so your citizens can have information on your account.

“Your Excellency, please watch your debt profiles and keep careful control of expenditure.

“Even as we invest in infrastructure, education and basic healthcare, please endeavour to pay teachers, healthcare workers.”

Okonjo-Iweala, stressed that states have a substantial responsibility, noting that only few states are raising internally generated revenue of any significance.

Also speaking at the event, billionaire businessman, Tony Elumelu called on Nigerian leaders, particularly governors of 36 states of the federation, to empower young people for national development.

 Speaking on the theme, “Task of Nation Building,” Elumelu who noted that investment in young people is a guarantee for national transformation, said, “The next generation is our hope for a better Nigeria.

“If we empower young people in our states and give them an enabling environment to grow, they will transform Nigeria.”

Speaking further, Iweala urged the Governors to figure out ways to increase internally generated revenue (IGR), saying this should go hand in hand with their share of the federal allocation, which she said is substantial, more transparently, efficiently and effectively. 

Okonjo-Iweala was the  finance minister under the Obasanjo’s administration and former Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, under the Jonathan’s administration.

Speaking further Iweala while  quoting  from an analysis of data from the National Bureau of Statistics, and state audited financial statements by the Budgit, which provides in-depth financial reports on country budgets helping citizens understand where their country’s money goes,  33 states relied on federal transfers for the majority of their revenue, for 13 of those states, the monthly impact allocations accounted for about 70% of revenue. 

According to her, aggregated IGR from the states did rise from N1.2 trillion in 2020 to N1.6 1 trillion in 2021. But this pales in comparison to FAAC allocations to state of N2.23 trillion in 2020 and 3.16 trillion in 2020.