Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is pushing for a cut in the revenue accruable to the Federal Government from the Federation Account.
He urged the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to slash the federal share from 52.68 per cent to 40 per cent; increase the state slice from 26.72 per cent to 40 per cent and reduce local governments’ share from 20.60 per cent to 20 per cent.
Wike’s proposal contained in a statement by his media aide Kelvin Ebiri, came barely two days after Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu initiated a similar push.
The governor described the prevailing revenue sharing formula as prescribed by the military since 1992 has become unrealistic.
Wike spoke when members of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), led by its chairman Elisa N. Mbam, visited him yesterday at the Government House in Port Harcourt.
The governor observed that despite the changes that the country had been through in the past 29 years, it is regrettable that it has continued to use the 1992 revenue formula prescribed by the military.
Wike faulted the use of the 1992 population figure, public school enrolment and public hospital bed spaces, landmass as a formula for allocation of revenue.
He argued that a more equitable formula should also take into cognisance the prevailing population figure as well enrolment in private schools and number of bed spaces in private hospitals.
Wike said: “Using the same formula of 1992 as a basis for revenue allocation in this country is so unfortunate. And to worsen the situation under a democratic dispensation, since 1999 till now, our country has not reviewed the revenue allocation formula.”
Justifying his call for a reduction in the federal share of national revenue, the governor said the Federal Government has abdicated its responsibility of providing security and basic infrastructure to the federating states.
“You people should reduce the percentage of the federal government. Give them 40 per cent. Give the states 40 per cent, give Local Government 20 per cent. In that way, most of the responsibilities that belong to the federal government will now be taken away and given to the states,” Wike said.
He noted the centralised federal system has made it impossible for states to look inwards and harness their potentials.
According to him, the country’s vast resources will continue to amount to nothing if the states are not allowed to use their resources to drive and determine their development.
He said: “We cannot talk about operating a federal system without having fiscal federalism. It is practically impossible. Let’s cancel that word federalism, we are operating a unitary system. But you cannot be saying we are operating a federal system, at the same time operating a centralised system.”
The governor expressed reservations about the willingness of the federal government to implement the recommendations of the revenue mobilisation and fiscal commission, which is currently holding a public hearing on the new revenue sharing formula across the six geopolitical zones.
Mbam explained that his commission has as one its mandate to review from time to time the revenue allocation formula in line with changing realities.
The RAMFC boss explained that it has become necessary to review the current formula because the last review was done in 1992.
According to him, the data that will be collated from the states will help the commission to arrive at a fair formula.
“We believe that what we will get from states will help us to come up with a revenue formula that will be fair, just and equitable,” he said.