By: Toluwalope Jumbo
Chairman of the Southern Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu,SAN,CON has decried the current practice of fixing salaries and allowances of public officials by the Federal Government to reflect uniformity across the nation.
Governor Akeredolu said the practice is unacceptable in a polity which prides itself as federal.
The Ondo State Governor said that the logic of mopping up revenues accruable to states and local governments into a general pool for the purpose of sharing, in accordance with some Federal Government formulas, is anachronistic and retrogressive.
He insisted that power must devolve to the federating units for the country to lay claims to being a federal State.
Governor Akeredolu spoke on Wednesday at the Zonal Public Hearing on the Review of the 2008 Renumeration Package for Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders in Nigeria by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) held at Adegbemile Hall, Akure.
The Governor, who was a Special Guest of Honour at the event, was represented by his deputy, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa.
Governor Akeredolu, who noted that It is not sufficient for RMFAC to regulate the salaries of public officials, charged the Commission to make conscious efforts to reduce the overbearing influence of the Federal Government and its institutions on the constituent units to encourage development.
“Let every State determine the salaries and allowances of its officials. Let the states control their resources and pay tax to the centre.” The Governor declared.
Governor Akeredolu lamented that the autonomy of the States has been eroded greatly, stressing that the Houses of Assembly have been relegated to the fringe in the affairs of their respective States.
The Governor, who identified Revenue generation as the bedrock of fiscal policies, urged the Federal Government to allow Local economies to flower.
“The appropriation of the sources of wealth of various States by agencies of the Federal Government is the fundamental reason for retardation.
“Our recent pre-independence history, and immediately after it, depicts the immense potentialities present in the various regions and the manner through which the political leaders availed themselves of them.
“The level of development attained in all these semi-autonomous political entities points at the possibilities of attaining greatness if the current structure is tinkered with to reflect true federalism.
“It is on record that public officials in the defunct South Western Region were the highest paid in the country. The visionary leaders ensured that the best were recruited to serve the people.
“Each Region determined, to a very great extent, issues bordering on effective governance. Development was, therefore, achievable within a short period. The challenges encountered by the nascent Republic led to crises in different parts of the country, especially the South West and the Middle Belt.
“The incursion of the military into the political affairs of the country engendered a devastating effect on the country. The promulgation of Decree No. 34 of 1966, which abolished the Regions and replaced them with the so called Provinces, laid the foundation for the erosion of values and determination to excel through healthy rivalries which existed among them.
“The creation of 12 States out of these artificial entities, erroneously called Provinces by the military, to defeat the secessionists, ensured the perpetuation of the policies which militated against the ability of the erstwhile upwardly mobile socio-political entities to be creative. The oil boom of the early 70s encouraged redundancy, progressively.
“The discovery of oil, the reason for the remarkable progress of other countries, has thus become a huge curse on the land. Only those who benefit from this current dysfunction will want it to continue.
“The country continues to pretend that all is well when it is dithering on the brink of collapse. All patriots must be resolute in challenging the present structural defects which stifle growth.
“The system which allows a very strong central government and weak dependencies is not capable of development. It will be much more profitable for the Federal Government to dissipate less energy in its pursuit of the misnomer touted as local government autonomy.” He said.
The Governor further called for the need to tinker with the current structure to allow real creation of wealth rather than concentrate all attention on how to share it.
“Most Nigerians participating in this public hearing will conclude, hastily, that its purpose is self-serving and highly insensitive to the plight of the ordinary people.
“The mere knowledge that humongous budgetary allocations are appropriated as recurrent expenditure in a country, struggling with issues of development, is perennially unsettling.
“A negligible fraction engaged to serve the populace gobbles a disproportionate part of the commonwealth. Ordinary Nigerians are, justifiably, vehement on the need to tinker with the current structure to allow real creation of wealth rather than concentrate all attention on how to share it.