Post Views: 192 Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday, challenged governors to raise the internally generated revenue profile of their states, espec...
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday, challenged governors to raise the internally generated revenue profile of their states, especially at this time when funds accruing to the federation is becoming gross inadequate in the face of mounting needs.
Speaking at the induction for new and returning governors of the nation’s recently elected governors at the State House in Abuja, Prof. Osinbajo said the need to for various state governors to grow their IGR has become urgent as the Federal Budget deficit inches near N2tr, “while debt service to revenue is somewhere in the order of 54%.”
Besides IGR, he called for more effective collection of Value Added Tax (VAT), “increase agricultural output, (and) work with the Federal Government to make broadband infrastructure available all over the country, so our young people anywhere in the country can do jobs from anywhere in the world, from their villages in any corner of Nigeria.”
He pledged on behalf of the Federal Government “that all states will be treated fairly and equitably, irrespective of party affiliations… as often as necessary and within its means.”
In what may be a clear message that the bazaar is unsustainable, he noted that over the past three years, the Federal Government has assisted the 36 states through “loans, bailouts and Paris Club refunds to the tune of well over N1.1tr,” representing the highest amount of Federal Government’s extra-statutory allocations and interventions in Nigeria’s history with no discriminations along party lines.
Osinbajo drew the attention of participants to the nation’s 3% per annum population growth rate, which means the number of Nigerians would rise to 400m in the next 30 years, making it the third most populous nation in the globe.
“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 in your States, health services in your States, food in your States and jobs in your States.
“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. But you and I know that the primary responsibility for education and healthcare lies with the States.”
He reminded the governors that they were elected to ease the pains and deprivations of their poverty, thereby taking responsibility “for the quality of lives and livelihoods of the millions who live within our States and National borders.
“In any event, all of the problems that our people have will be solved by men and women and not spirits. We are those men and women. History and providence have put us in these positions at this time. And we have the mental and physical wherewithal to solve the problems. But we may or may not solve the problem, which is a choice.
“We may revel in the same old excuses, and leave the poverty statistics worse or where we met them. All elected officials in Nigeria since I started following national developments have always complained about inadequate funds. So we will not be saying anything new if and when we raise those same complaints.”
He enjoined state governments not to charge for right-of-way from communications companies, thereby hindering the laying of cables and other broadband infrastructure as an IGR measure, which he added is threatening millions of jobs in technology and other services.
There is no other way of doing this, he continued, “except by dropping the idea that we can benefit from just the 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 all agreed on a pathway to make this happen.
The VP spoke of the government’s Social Investment Programmes that has been effective in almost all States of the Federation, listing the administration’s 500,000 N-Power beneficiaries; petty traders in every State have received of the N2million TraderMoni or MarketMoni loans given so far.
Continuing, he said “30 States make up the 9.5million children fed daily under our Homegrown School Feeding Programme and about 18 States so far, have benefitted from the cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable. We intend to continuously expand these important pro-poor, wealth creation programmes.
“Another landmark intervention, which has also had the cooperation of all the States, is the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), set up by Mr. President on July 2016 to address and resolve bureaucratic bottlenecks standing in the way of business and investment in Nigeria, and to generally deliver a vastly improved business environment.”
He recalled that in the 2016 and 2017 budgets, the government invested a total of N2.7tr on infrastructure, the largest ever commitment in our recent history, just as he noted plans for historic all-party cooperation to better the lives of all our citizens.