LAGOS State govenor District 13 Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has painted a very grim picture of Nigeria’s economy saying the situation demands urgent attention.
Addressing members of the state House of Assembly on the state of the nation at plenary yesterday in Lagos, he complained that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) under-remitted N2.4 trillion to the Federation Account.
The governor, who was visibly saddened by the situation, gave the impression that no state would be able to meet its target for the year 2014 as the 36 states of the federation are in serious financial problems.
According to the governor, for the first time in almost 14 years of the nation’s democratic experience, the country has recorded walk-outs staged by commissioners of finance during meetings of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FACC) in Abuja.
He said the first one happened in 2011, while the country witnessed more of such walk-outs last year due to irreconcilable accounts of the federation.
As a result, he said, some states have had to borrow to keep the government going.
He said:“The reasons for those disagreements were largely reported revenue declines that were disputed by the various states as represented by their various finance commissioners,” he said, adding that the pattern had continued right from the second half of last year to January this year.
“Now whilst this revenue decline has gone up, we have been unable to hold the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja.
“In the past, the meetings had held every month. The meeting has not been held now for, at least, six months in spite of clear revenue declines.”
He said the NEC is a forum for the discussion of economic issues concerning the 36 states of the federation and it is made up of governors, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the ministers of National Planning, Finance and others. The meeting is chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo.
He said the revenue decline should have been a major issue for discussion at the NEC meeting since the constitution of the country provided for it.
Fashola reminded the House that he had always complained of decline in revenue and the inability of the state to meet optimal budget performances, lamenting that the government has left social services to meet welfare needs of personnel.
According to him, the revenue declines are credited to “what is characterised as uncoordinated and discretionary application of the Federal Government’s fiscal policy on waiver and negotiating the duty credit certificates.”