All Progressives Congress, APC, governors have accused the federal government of politicising its monthly hand-outs to states, saying allocations to opposition states have increasingly dwindled over the past months despite the government’s claim that Nigeria is not broke.
With the APC states losing money and struggling to meet routine needs such as payment of salaries, states controlled by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, appear to remain as buoyant, the governors said at a meeting in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, Wednesday.
They argued that the PDP states may be secretly receiving “backdoor” funding tucked in by the federal government to boost their delivery of services to their people.
“This has become a very serious concern to us as governors and we felt that issues that affect the lives of our people must never be politicized. We refuse to accept the fact that this nation is broke and thank God that the federal government has confirmed that the country was not broke,” Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said.
“If the nation is not broke, what is due to states should be given to states. This idea of cutting down what should go to states does not in any way promote democracy and democratic dividends.
“As progressive governors, we call on the Federal Government to look into the issue of dwindling resources and convince us as to why the states should not get what is due to them.
“We don’t know why our colleagues from the PDP side are not talking on this matter. But if they are not talking, it is either they are not affected or somehow they are getting something from the backdoor,” Mr. Okorocha said.
The governors rose from a five-hour meeting with a resolve to meet President Goodluck Jonathan to discuss their concerns over dwindling revenues.
In attendance at the meeting were the host, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara state; Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Mr. Okorocha (Imo), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Hashim Shettima (Borno), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), and Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe).
Raji Fashola of Lagos; Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun; Adams Oshiomhole of Edo, Umar Al-Makura of Nasarawa, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara and Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto States were absent.
The governors’ resolution came on the same day as the government’s monthly Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, meeting where allocations are shared to the states.
Wednesday’s meeting, which was for September and was attended by the Commissioners of Finance and the states’ Accountants General, lasted hours till about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, with the knotty issue of dwindling revenues again taking centre stage.
Throughout the meeting, representatives of the states engaged their federal counterparts, led by the Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, in tough negotiations on what should be shared for the month.
The major point of disagreement was the outstanding N450 billion debt by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to the Federation Account and what to do with the proceeds of the Excess Crude Account, ECA.
The state governments demanded full disclosure on the activities of the NNPC, especially how much has since been transferred to the Federation Account.
Midway into the negotiations, state finance commissioners filed out of the auditorium of the Federal Ministry of Finance venue for consultations when discussion deadlocked on the offer by the Federal Government.
A proposal for money to be withdrawn from the ECA for sharing generated heated debate, with the Federal Government team canvassing “the no-sharing option” based on the view that the country’s savings should be boosted to mitigate any likely shock on the economy.
However, the states vehemently opposed the proposal on the ground that their governments needed more funds to execute various projects and programmes as well as pay civil servants and contractors.
At the end, the meeting resolved to draw about $2.7 billion from the Excess Crude Revenue Account for sharing, meaning the account now holds a balance of $4.1 billion.
The Minister of State, Mr. Yuguda, told journalists that a total of N603.529 billion was shared for the month of September, lower than N611.767 shared in August.
About N463.779 billion was shared among the three tiers of government as statutory fund, N65.102 billion from Value Added Tax, VAT, N30 billion as additional distribution from NNPC, N35.549 billion from Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme , SURE-P, and N6.330billion was for NNPC refund to the federal government.
Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had during her appearance at the Ministerial Platform in Abuja on Tuesday, lamented the impact of declining oil prices on the country’s economy and revenue yields.
She however insisted this was not significantly affecting the amount of revenue paid into government coffers.
The APC governors, who spoke at their meeting in Ilorin, said the government must be more open and share to the states what belongs to them to enable them meet their responsibilities.