By Chimezie Godfrey
The Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal has said that the revenue sharing formula of the Federation is hard to untangle due to lack of transparency in the way it is derived, assembled and disbursed.
He made this known to the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendment led by Senator Adamu Aleiro, which paid him a courtesy call in Sokoto on Thursday.
Gov. Tambuwal noted that the RMAFC is weak and unable to operate optimally because its operators are controlled by the federal government.
He said,”The revenue sharing formula of the Federation is hard to untangle because there is no transparency in the way and manner it is derived, assembled and disbursed.
“Equally, the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), is seemingly weak and unable to function optimally because its operations and overseers, that are supposed to be state representatives, are tied to the apron string of the Federal Government, thus making the body unable to fulfill its constitutionally stipulated half a decade statutory review of the sharing formula.”
Gov Tambuwal stressed that unless members of the RMAFC are nominated, screened and appointed by their respective states; and remain detached from the control of the Presidency, the fulfillment of the stipulated Constitutional review of the revenue sharing formula would continue to encounter stalemate.
Apart from this novel, yet legitimate way of deriving a workable revenue formula at the RMAFC, the governor suggested the same process should be applied to the running of the Federal Character Commission (FCC), the National Population Commission (NPC) “and all Commissions at the Center that are having state representation.”
“That will give them (the representatives) some courage and moral high ground to go and represent their states, unlike what we have today,” he opined.
“It is very important that we do not only review the revenue formula but we make the revenue sources, collection and distribution very transparent. Unfortunately for us, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, and ironically under President Muhammadu Buhari, NNPC declared zero allocation to FAAC.
“This is, obviously, due to lack of transparency. So, we need to unbundle the finances of the Federation and make their pooling, collection and distribution as transparent as possible.
“That can only be possible when you have an independent Accountant-General of the Federation seperate from the Accountant-General of the Federal Government; which is part of what we submitted as a people from Sokoto Center.
“That would also happen if you have a strong, virile Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, whereby states nominate Commissioners to that Commission and they are screened by the states House of Assembly.
“So, they will be strong enough to go and represent their states; not the situation we have now that the President will seat in Abuja and nominate for each state and they will be screened by the Senate. They are not representing states but those who nominated them. It is a very sour thing,” he emphasized.
Going down memory lane, Gov. Tambuwal said previous efforts to review the revenue sharing formula failed “because the RMAFC has to wait for the President to be ready, then they will send (the proposed review)” to him; and he would pass it on to the National Assembly.
He objected to this and stated that “the RMAFC, which is for the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” should “draft a review every five years as required by the Constitution and send it to the National Assembly.
“Let the President and the governments of the states, that are the Federating units, go and battle it on the floor of the National Assembly, where you have representatives of the states and the President. So, they will compete favorably.
“As it is, that is skewed in favor of the Federal Government. That is why Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’adua, Jonathan and Buhari were not able to change that,”
He submitted that instead of the subsisting rigmarole that has shrouded the revenue sharing in secrecy, if the half-a-decade review “is sent to the National Assembly, you won’t have all these struggles.”
He appealed to the Senate and the Presidency, both of which he said Sokoto state has working partnership with for better service delivery to the people of the country, to make the suggestions presented by his state workable in order to “unbundle the financial sector for the Federation and allow it to be more transparent.”