Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday in Abuja, charged both the returning and newly elected state governors to brainstorm on ways to increase their states’ Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Mr Osinbajo, apart from providing leadership nuggets, urged the governors to improve on the collection of value-added tax (VAT) in their various states.
He disclosed these tips at an event organised by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) during the induction of the officials.
The event had in attendance Senate President Bukola Saraki and many state governors.
Also, a former governor of New Mexico, in the U.S., Bill Richardson; former governor of Maryland State, Martin O’Malley, among others, attended.
Mr Osinbano condemned governors, who charge communication companies for laying cables in their states, describing them as ”penny wise, pounds foolish”.
He, however, charged the governors to invest in broadband infrastructure as India has done.
”If a state is charging for right-of-way from communications companies and is hindering the laying of cables and other broadband infrastructure as an IGR measure, permit me to say, that will be penny wise and pound foolish,” Mr Osinbajo said.
”To tap into the millions of jobs in technology and other services that a country like India, for example, has tapped into, requires broadband infrastructure across the country. There is no other way of doing that except by dropping the idea that we can benefit from just laying of cables and providing infrastructure.
”We must, as a whole, allow a situation where broadband infrastructure is available everywhere. All the governors at the National Economic Council have agreed on a pathway to make this happen,” he said.
Basic amenities, responsibilities of state governors
Mr Osinbajo also said the responsibility of providing basic education and healthcare facilities lies with the governors.
“The federal government will, as is usual, possibly be blamed for the number of out-of-school children and for not investing enough in healthcare,” he said. “But you and I know that the primary responsibility for education and healthcare lies with the states.”
On agriculture, the vice president said, “each state must leverage on agricultural produce.”
He also advised the governors to ensure they work with the federal government’s initiatives on agricultural credit “and the recently inaugurated Green Alternative.”
”How about Agriculture? Each state must leverage its most advantageous agricultural produce, and work with the Federal government’s initiatives in agricultural credit and the recently launched Green Imperative, with the Brazilian Government,
”It is possible for states to generate significant revenues from agriculture. After all, a lot of the relatively mind-boggling achievements of the regions in our history were without oil money but mainly revenues from agriculture and taxes. Today, we have even more options,” he explained.
Speaking on the high population growth in the country, Mr Osinbajo enjoined the governors to build more schools, health facilities and create jobs.
“Our population continues to grow at over 3 per cent per annum. We will, by current projections, move from 200 million to 400 million people in the next three decades. And then, we will become the third most populous nation in the world.
“Most of that population will be young people under the age of 25, looking for jobs. Every one of these people, except a few living in Abuja will live in the states, your states, where you govern. They will seek schools, health services, food and jobs in your states.