Thursday, April 7, 2022, the Chairman of Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, presented the report of the proposed new revenue allocation formula for Nigeria to President Muhammadu Buhari. This is coming 30 years after the last exercise was carried out in 1992, during the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida.
Highlighting the key recommendations in the report, Mbam said the proposed vertical revenue distribution formula suggested 45.17 per cent for the Federal Government, 29.79 per cent for state governments and 21.04 per cent for local governments. Under the current sharing arrangement, the Federal Government receives 52.68 per cent of the revenue share, the states get 26.72 per cent and the local governments 20.60 per cent.
Under the special fund, the commission’s report recommended 1.0 per cent for ecology, 0.5 per cent for stabilisation, 1.3 per cent for natural resource development and 1.2 per cent for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). According to him, the new sharing formula was reached after extensive consultations with key stakeholders, public hearings across the country, administering of questionnaires, and a study of several other countries with similar fiscal structures to draw useful lessons from.
The commission also visited the 36 states, the FCT, and all the local government areas including the six area councils in Abuja to sensitise and obtain inputs from stakeholders, according to the RMAFC chairman. The chairman added that literature reviews were conducted on the revenue allocation formula in Nigeria dating back to the pre-independence duration.
Memos were reportedly received from the public sector, individuals and private institutions across the country. Mbam further noted that the country’s political structure had altered since the last review in 1992, with the addition of six more states in 1996, bringing the number of states to 36. At the same time, the number of local government councils also increased from 589 to 774.
The revenue allocation formula is the fraction of resources accruing to the federation that goes to each component of the nation. It also specifies the resources conserved in the areas where they are produced, as well as the proportions of the revenue accruing to the collecting agencies of government. The lack of justice and fairness in the distribution of the resources often results in tension and controversies in the polity.
President Buhari’s reaction to the new income distribution formula is commendable. In particular, he said he would await the outcome of the constitutional review process before submitting the report to the National Assembly. He assured the commission’s members that the Federal Government would conduct an internal review and approval process for the report shortly.
Buhari said, ‘‘Considering the changing dynamics of our political-economy, such as privatisation, deregulation, funding arrangement of primary education, primary health care and the growing clamour for decentralisation, among others, we must take another look at our revenue sharing formula, especially the vertical aspects that relate to the tiers of government.”
If the new revenue-sharing procedure gets approval, the Federal Government will have its allocation reduced by 3.33 per cent. However, the most important issue with Nigeria is not how revenue is shared, but the revenue itself. Nigeria’s revenue to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is about 8 perc ent while the average for Africa is 18 perc ent. Hence, it is more productive to concentrate efforts on improving revenue generation across the board than the fixation on sharing. We have a huge revenue problem.
The National Assembly should step up efforts to amend the relevant section of the Constitution for quick implementation of the new revenue formula. The Federal Government must immediately subject the report to its review and approval processes. We hail RMAFC for the meticulous work in carrying out its constitutional tasks. Nigerians, particularly state and local governments, are applauded for contributing to this development through the extensive stakeholder engagement processes.
At the height of the negotiating process of the current minimum wage of N30,000, the states (under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum), proposed a fresh formulation to give them more resources. Governors cited their inability to pay. However, most of the governors have been reckless with the allocations they have been receiving, resulting in several states owing workers’ salaries and pension arrears. While state and local governments deserve to get more, the derivation on natural resources should also be jacked up with legally binding provisions on regular upward adjustments.
Nevertheless, the new sharing format is not the universal remedy for Nigeria’s stunted economic outlook. For now, Nigeria is a poor country. The World Bank estimates its Gross Domestic Product at $375.8 billion, the largest in Africa, but it is a deceptive narrative. At 200 million, its population far outstrips that of any other country on the continent. Our nation has been described by the World Poverty Clock as the global poverty capital, where 93 million people live below the $1.90 per day threshold.
The continuous sharing of oil resources currently generated will not be of significant help. The three tiers of government will permanently be bogged down in a financial crisis, primarily because Nigeria’s current structure is a dangerous aberration. For the nation to be progressive and dynamic, equity and justice have to be promoted in our federal system. Also, the retrogressive culture of entitlement to oil revenue should end. Ideally, the states should strive to become centres of development.
Across Nigeria today, the consensus is that there is an urgent need to devolve more financial resources from the centre to the states and local governments. This is to ensure that the tiers of government can carry out their functions and improve economic growth and development. While we endorse that agitation, we strongly believe that Nigeria could only attain its dream of development by operating true fiscal federalism, where every tier of government generates its revenue and controls the bulk of it, just as it was in the First Republic.
World Bank To Fund $30bn Projects In Nigeria, Others
The World Bank has said it is set to disburse a total of $30billion to fund existing and new projects in Nigeria and other countries as part of a global response to combat the ongoing food security crisis.
According to the bank, it is working with countries on a $12billion new projects fund for the next 15 months.
It said the projects are expected to support agriculture, social protection to cushion the effects of higher food prices, and water and irrigation projects.
It added that most of the funds would go to Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia.
The global bank disclosed this when it announced how it plans to be part of a comprehensive, global response to the ongoing food security crisis.
It stated that it intends to roll out this fund in existing and new projects in agriculture, nutrition, social protection, water, and irrigation.
It said, “This financing will include efforts to encourage food and fertiliser production, enhance food systems, facilitate greater trade, and support vulnerable households and producers.”
World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said, “Food price increases are having devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable.
“To inform and stabilise markets, it is critical that countries make clear statements now of future output increases in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Countries should make concerted efforts to increase the supply of energy and fertilizer, help farmers increase plantings and crop yields, and remove policies that block exports and imports, divert food to biofuel, or encourage unnecessary storage.”
The bank added that its current existing portfolio includes balances of $18.7billion in projects with direct links to food and nutrition security issues, covering agriculture and natural resources, nutrition, social protection, and other sectors.
It stated, “Altogether, this would amount to over $30billion available for implementation to address food insecurity over the next 15 months. This response will draw on the full range of Bank financing instruments and be complemented by analytical work.”
FG Postpones FAAC Meeting Over AGF’s N80bn Probe
The Federal Government has announced the postponement of May, 2022 Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting.
The sudden postponement may not be unconnected with the ongoing investigation of the suspended Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over alleged fraud to the tune of N80billion.
The FAAC meeting is a monthly meeting where the federation allocates monthly revenue among the three tiers of government.
The meeting had earlier been scheduled to hold virtually between May 18 and 19, 2022.
The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said this in a letter signed by Director, Home Finance,Stephen Okon.
The ministry said the meeting was postponed due to “certain circumstances.
“I am directed to inform you that the Federation Account/Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings earlier scheduled to hold/virtually on the 18th and 19th May, 2022 have been postponed due to/certain circumstances,” the circular reads.
“In view of the foregoing, I am to further inform you that the new date for the meetings will be forwarded to you in due course.
“While we regret the inconveniences this change might cause you, please accept the assurances of the Minister’s warm regards,” the letter read in part.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on Monday arrested and detained Idris over an alleged N80billion fraud.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, announced indefinite suspension of Idris, last Wednesday.
Ahmed said the suspension “without pay” was to allow for “proper and unhindered investigation” in line with public service rules.
Nigerian Out-Of-School Children Hit 18.5m
Nigeria has 18.5million out-of-school children (OSC), the highest number in the world, and out of the figure, 10million are girls, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said.
The Chief of UNICEF Field Office in Kano, Rahama Farah, stated this at a media dialogue on ‘Girls’ Education under the Girls’ Education Project 3, GEP 3’, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and implemented by UNICEF.
“For those lucky to be in school, their condition is also not enviable given the situation of public schools in the country. Only recently, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), said 50per cent of schools in Nigeria lack basic furniture”Farah said.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Hamid Bobboyi, said this in Abuja at a one-day civil society organisations’ CSO-Legislative Roundtable Meeting where some National and State Houses of Assembly members were present.
According to him, emerging constraints in basic education delivery in the country may necessitate an increase in the consolidated revenue funds from the current two per cent to four per cent.
He buttressed his position for an increase in funding on the security challenges bedevilling the country, insisting that rising student population also poses urgent need for teaching facilities.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Basic Education, represented by Senator Frank Ibezim, decried the failure of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), to sustain some UBEC-initiated projects such as classrooms and libraries earlier introduced by the commission in all constituencies in the country.
While commending UBEC over the construction of classrooms in schools across the country, he lamented the poor maintenance culture, noting that there is no school in the country that does not have a dilapidated block.
A representative of MacArthur Foundation, Mr Dayo Olaoye, called on stakeholders to review the impact of the country’s annual budget on education, stressing that it was not enough that the country is increasing its budget to the sector.
“As we think about reforms, let us think beyond buildings that have been delivered, let us start thinking about how many children have been brought to school,” he said.
“If classrooms are dilapidated, and there are not enough furniture, what about teachers and the quality of the ones available? The Registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, said there are over 300,000 unqualified teachers in the system.
“Education is very important to be left in the hands of quacks and that is why at TRCN, we are stepping up efforts at ridding the system of unqualified hands. We implore teachers and their employers to take advantage of the various windows TRCN is providing to improve the quality of teachers in the country so as to get better results from our education system,” he said.
For the General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr Mike Ene, there is need for better funding of the education sector.
He noted that in many states, teachers are overwhelmed by the number of pupils and students they handle.
“In so many states, there is inadequacy of teachers. Some states have not recruited teachers in the last 10 years and yearly, teachers are leaving the system through retirement, resignation or even death. Worse hit by poor staffing are schools in the rural areas. Such schools are called hard-to-staff schools.”
It is in that regard that the welfare packages announced by the Federal Government are very much necessary,” he said.
Also speaking on the issue, the National President of the National Association of Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, decried the manner some state governments are implementing the Basic Education Policy of the government whereby pupils and students in primary and junior secondary schools are to enjoy free education and are given textbooks in some core subjects.
“Some states are not doing well in that respect. They have abandoned the programme. They are not funding education as it ought to be funded. Even counterpart funds that some states should put down to complement the funds from UBEC are not provided. Some states have even misused UBEC funds and are suspended from getting further grants.
“We are talking now about our tertiary institutions that are grounded by workers’ strikes, the basic education level, which is the foundation, is not faring better too. Something urgent must be done to redress the situation before the sector collapses finally,” he noted.
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