A non-governmental organisation, ActionAid Nigeria, has asked the federal government to adopt fiscal federalism in order to accelerate the development of the country.
The group stated this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja after the 44th meeting of its Board of Trustees and General Assembly held virtually to review the state of the nation last Saturday.
The statement was signed by its convener, Yusuf Ogwuezebe.
ActionAid Nigeria is a national non-governmental, non-partisan, non-religious, civil society organisation, and an affiliate member of the ActionAid International Federation with presence in 45 countries.
It works in solidarity with people living in poverty and exclusion to achieve social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication towards achieving a just, equitable and sustainable world in which every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity, freedom from poverty and all forms of oppression.
The group said it reviewed developments in government, politics, the economy, and security during the last quarter, particularly as it affects vulnerable groups, including women, children, Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), and youth and decided to share its views and recommendations on the way forward.
The group observed that public fiscal deficit, financed mostly by domestic and foreign borrowings, widened with high debt service payments, estimated at more than half of federally collected revenues, pose a major fiscal risk to Nigeria’s economy.
It said the rising public debt, unemployment, inflation, and high cost of living require the immediate embracing of fiscal federalism in absolute terms.
“Rising public debt, unemployment, inflation, and high cost of living require the immediate embracing of fiscal federalism in absolute terms. This will enable the country to break the vicious cycle of poverty. It will eliminate the wholesale dependence on oil which makes Nigeria a monolithic economy,” the group said.
“Adopting the principles of fiscal federalism will be a practical approach to solving the challenges governments at all levels face today, such as the generation and equitable distribution of income, efficient and effective allocation of resources, and economic stability. Revenue drive and allocation of resources can be done effectively by states and local governments with strong measures to curtail graft and corruption.”
ActionAid noted that Nigeria is faced with an unprecedented wave of different but overlapping security crises – from kidnapping to extremist insurgencies, adding that almost every corner of the country has been hit by violence and crime.
It said the growing insecurity has been closely linked to the high rate of poverty in the country.
On the ongoing strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), the group noted that doctors across the country have embarked on strike for the fourth time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some of them complaining they are owed salaries for several months.
It said many Nigerian media outlets are reporting that patients – some with COVID-19 symptoms – are being turned away at short-staffed hospitals.
The group also observed that the ongoing review of the 1999 constitution by the National Assembly offers the opportunity for Nigerians to shape the document with the goal that it reflects the desires and aspirations of the citizens.
It stated that some of the provisions to be considered vital for the uplifting of the status of citizens include Socio-Economic and Cultural Rights as contained in Chapter 2 of the constitution, issues of Gender Equality and a thorough reform of the Nigeria Police.
It also noted that the Twitter ban by the federal government last June has had severe economic costs, adding that it is a step backwards for civic engagements and threatens the civic space which has continued to shrink in recent years.
Apart from calling for fiscal federalism, ActionAid asked the government to renew the nation’s partnership with neigbouring countries to enhance intelligence exchange and information sharing that would help in quelling insurgency and other sundry crimes.
‘’Cracking the nation’s current security challenges also requires increasing the manpower and welfare of all security agencies and equipping them with modern combat equipment, skills, and training,” it said.
“The government must renew our partnership with neighboring countries to enhance intelligence exchange and information sharing that would help in quelling the insurgency and other sundry crimes.
“The state-of-the-art combat Tucano and Alpha jets newly acquired must be deployed immediately to help in further neutralizing the criminal elements with precision and bring the protracted insurgency to an end. Contemporary hi-tech security management networking as adopted by advanced countries of the world should be embraced.”
The group called on the federal and state governments to explore different models to improve the work environment for medical practitioners.
It said health insurance must be made mandatory with sound mechanisms to prevent corruption for universal health care coverage.
“Government must ensure that there are more funds to upgrade health care infrastructure, clinical equipment and therefore improve the welfare and work climate of medical practitioners to induce job satisfaction,” it stated.
On constitution review, ActionAid recommended that the non-justiciability of the provisions of chapter 2 of the 1999 constitution should be reviewed and amended by removing the non-justiciable character and make them enforceable in line with international treaties which have been domesticated in Nigeria.
It said there is an urgent need to amend the constitution to allow for states to set up their various police outfits by taking the police off the exclusive legislative list and including the same in the concurrent list.
It called on the federal government to rescind its decision on the Twitter ban, saying “it has had a huge socio-economic impact not only on the lives of emerging young entrepreneurs who depend on the social media for their livelihood, but it is also a counterproductive move for a nation seeking to create more jobs and reduce poverty as part of its post COVID-19 recovery strategy.”
It added that the ban raises human rights and reputational concerns about the leadership of the country.
ActionAid also announced the election of new members of its Board.
According to the statement, the new board will be chaired by Jummai Umar-Ajijola with Imoni Amarere as vice chairman and James Milaham as treasurer.
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