Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta has urged the National Assembly to enshrine true federalism and independence of Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in the 1999 Constitution being amended.
The governor made the call while addressing audience at the nationwide sensitization on the review of the existing revenue allocation formula held in Asaba on Monday.
According to him, the current practice where recommendations of the Commission are presented to the President has led to the non-review of the revenue allocation formula since 1992.
“For quite some time, a lot of talks have gone on in the revenue allocation and it’s very unfortunate that in this country we are still operating a revenue allocation formula that was actually reviewed in 1992.
“As we look forward to a new revenue allocation formula, we hope that you come out with something that is fair, justifiable and equitable.
“But, the challenge is that when you have done all this work, you are going to eventually, by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, lay this before the President and the President ought to lay it before the National Assembly.
“There is a challenge there and there has always been a challenge there, because what is there in our laws that will ensure that the President lays the recommendations of RMAFC before the national assembly?
“We hope that the national assembly takes a look at this amendment because RMAFC is supposed to be an independent commission, a commission on behalf of all federating units and component parts of the federation.
“They cannot tie your hands; the Constitution ought to be amended to enable Chairman of RMAFC to directly lay before the national assembly whatever review it has come up with so that nobody stands it down,’’ Okowa said.
Okowa said that the National Assembly must do what is right, because “a nation is a nation. A federation is a federation with federating units and we must have that principle of justice and fairness.
“The independence of the RMAFC must be entrenched in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and they must ensure that this aspect of the Constitution is reviewed to ensure that RMAFC Chairman lays its report directly to the National Assembly.”
“Efforts of the commission can be in vain if the president fails to lay the report before the national assembly.
“No matter how much we propose and no matter how our good intentions tend to be, there is a challenge on the execution of the revenue formula as it ought to be because of limitations in the Constitution of the country.
“And that’s an aspect we have to attend to.
“For good governance in this country and for sustainable development, it’s important that the revenue allocation is revisited in such a manner that more money goes back to the sub-national units in our federation.
“At the moment, the Federal Government is taking too much of the totality of the revenue accruing to the federation.
“To this extent, the sub-national governments, including the states and the local governments, are actually short-changed and do not have enough resources.
“They are the governments closest to the people who understand the needs of the people.
“And they are the governments that can truly develop the various localities in such a manner that the impact of government would be felt in our various communities.
“A lot of study has been done by moving around to find out the pains of the people.
“The Federal Government should not be entitled to more than 40 per cent while the remaining 60 per cent should be shared between the sub-national governments – states and local governments,” Okowa said.
He deplored the non-review of the 13 per cent derivation given to oil-producing states, adding that oil-bearing communities were faced with environmental degradation and destruction of their sources of livelihood.
Earlier, the Federal Commissioner representing Delta State in RMAFC, Mr Andrew Agbaga, lauded the governor for his giant strides in governance.
He said that RMAFC was empowered by law to review from time-to-time, the revenue allocation formula, in line with changing realities.
Agbaga admitted that the revenue formula ought not to be in force for more than five years, but regretted that all previous attempts to review the formula in the past 28 years had been fruitless.
He, however, said that RMAFC considered it expedient to review the revenue allocation formula because the political structure of the country had since changed.
“With the creation of six additional states in 1996, which brought the number of states to 36, with corresponding increase in local governments from 580 to 774, it has become imperative that the revenue allocation formula be reviewed.
“It is in consideration of this that the Commission is very eager to review holistically, the Revenue Allocation Formula which currently gives the Federal Government 52.6 per cent, states 26.7, per cent and local governments, 20.6 per cent,” Agbaga said.
In his opening remarks, the State Commissioner for Finance, Chief Fidelis Tilije, urged RMAFC to strive towards arriving at the indices that would dovetail into computation of a revenue allocation formula favourable to the sub-national governments.(NAN)