6th May, 2014
A new revenue sharing formula was on Monday proposed by the Committee on Devolution of Power at the on-going National Conference in Abuja. The aim is to empower the states and local governments in their development efforts.
The Committee, after four hours close-door session announced a unanimous decision to trim the existing Federal Government revenue allocation by 10 per cent, thus bringing it down from 52 per cent to 42 per cent.
If the proposal receives the consent of the Conference in plenary and is used to amend existing sharing formula, the 36 states of the federation will receive 35.0 percent allocation from the Federation Account while local governments would receive 22.5 percents.
Co-Chairman of the Committee and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, told journalists at the end of the meeting that the decision of the committee was guided by the belief that some funds must be devolved to states and local governments for greater development impact.
This did not take away the understanding and acceptance of the fact that the Federal Government, at present and until decided otherwise, still has the military, the police and the entire security machinery to fund.
Attah observed that during the Committee’s deliberation on the Exclusive and Concurrent Legislative Lists, some items hitherto funded exclusively by the Federal Government had been moved to the Concurrent Legislative List for involvement of state governments.
He said in taking the decision on the revenue sharing formula, consideration was given to certain decisions that might be taken by other committees, particularly regarding the status of the local government.
The Co-Chairman said for instance, that if the committee directly responsible for political restructuring recommends the sacking of existing 774 local government areas, then the revenue allocated to the local governments will go to the states.
Shortly after the media briefing by the former governor, the Committee shut its door and went into another session of deliberation and debate on the derivation formula.
It was observed that after three hours of heated debate by the members, no decision could be arrived at on the issue as both the delegates from the south and others from the north were said to have taken to incompatible positions on the issue.
In a brief chat with journalists after the close-door session, Attah said he was optimistic that a unanimous decision would be taken by the Committee on the issue on Tuesday.
He noted that all the delegates had different opinions on how much the derivation formula should be benched; and that while some suggested 100 per cent control of resources, others said there should be no such thing.
Attah said the Committee’s decision would be guided by certain provisions in the extant laws including the 1999 Constitution which have left ownership of mineral resources no matter where they are found in the custody of the Federal Government.