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Governors under scrutiny as economic hardship, hunger worsens

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There are concerns that despite massive increases in revenue allocations available to the various levels of government after the removal of fuel subsidies, state governors are not doing enough to ease the suffering of citizens.

The development comes as Nigerians battle increased economic hardship following the worsening inflation and continuous Naira slip in the market.

This is even as the country has continued to face security challenges, with frequent attacks by armed persons across various regions of the country.

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DAILY POST reports that the prices of goods and services rise daily and have surpassed the reach of the poor.

Recall that the nation’s economic situation worsened on May 29, 2023, after President Bola Tinubu announced the removal of oil subsidies.

DAILY POST reported that there have been protests by residents in Niger, Kano, Kogi, Ondo, Oyo and other states against the biting economic hardship.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has also complained that despite huge budgetary allocations and monthly security votes in Nigeria, the government has failed to address growing insecurity and economic hardship.

This is in addition to Northern traditional rulers and the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, decrying the hardship in the country precipitated by the removal of fuel subsidies, resulting in higher transport costs and food inflation.

However, while not absolving the federal government from the current economic crisis, many Nigerians have begun to question what the state governors are doing to alleviate the sufferings of the citizens in their various domains.

DAILY POST reported that the Federal Government, on Tuesday last week, tackled the governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, saying they owed Nigerians an explanation on whether or not they spent increased allocations on their people.

The federal government’s reaction comes on the heels of a statement by the PDP governors calling on the APC-led federal government to rise to the occasion and address the worsening economic hardship in the country before it got out of hand.

The PDP governors had said the current hardship being experienced by Nigerians was occasioned by the nation’s economic and security challenges, blaming Tinubu’s administration for the crisis.

“The forum consequently urges the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, embark on initiatives involving all the sub-national governments to bring a lasting solution to the crises,” said the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State.

However, Mohammed Idris, the Minister of Information & National Orientation, said, “Nigerians should ask PDP governors how far and how well they have utilized the increased revenue to better the lives of Nigerians in their respective states.

“It is on record that most states controlled by PDP owe workers and pensioners months of unpaid salary and pension arrears. The PDP governors have defaulted in paying gratuities to their retired workers. It is also a fact that many of the PDP governors have not paid N30,000 minimum wage to their workers since it took effect more than four years ago. All of these anomalies in their states contribute significantly to the economic pressure their citizens face.

“If PDP governors are genuinely interested in the living conditions of Nigerians and are not just stirring up disaffection and ill-will towards the federal government, we urge them to meet their obligations to workers, pensioners, and local contractors and see the multiplier effect.

“It is disappointing that PDP governors talk about rising costs of living and food when they have not done much to increase food production in their states. The land in Nigeria belongs to the states, not the Federal Government.”

In December 2023, the Federal Government approved N5 billion for each state and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to enable them to procure food items for distribution to the poor in their respective states.

The development comes in the wake of the hike in the cost of food items and petroleum owing to the removal of subsidy on the commodity.

Apart from the considerable windfall in revenue allocations, the governors have also enjoyed considerable support from Tinubu’s administration, as they recently received N7 billion and N2 billion each for infrastructure support and fuel subsidy palliative, respectively.

It was against this backdrop that the Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, remarked that state governors have no reason to fail their people, noting that the revenue allocations available to all the tiers of government have increased since June 2023.

“The 36 states have enjoyed overwhelming support from President Tinubu’s administration, having recently been given N7 billion each for infrastructure support, in addition to the N2 billion earlier given as fuel subsidy palliative.

“State governors thus have no reason not to do a lot for their people, instead of the obsession with the center. By spending money on roads and other infrastructure, many jobs will be created, and people will have money to spend,” Onanuga said.

DAILY POST also reported that the House of Representatives recently mandated its Committees on Special Duties, National Planning and Economic Development to look into the spending and utilization of increased allocations from the Federal Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, by state governments.

This came after the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance by Rep. Ademorin Kuye (APC-Lagos) on the floor of the House in Abuja.

Kuye argued that states and local government areas received more monies from FAAC in the last seven months after the subsidy removal.

He said states and local government areas received N6.57 trillion in 2023, double the N3.16 trillion they received in 2022, arguing that despite the availability of more cash to the states, more than 14.2 million citizens continued to grapple with poverty.

He added that despite the increase, some states were still faced with the challenges of paying salaries, effectively managing public institutions, providing public transportation, and accessing potable water.

According to him, some states’ unemployment rate increased to more than 51 per cent.

“It is worrisome that some state governors have brazenly refused to complement the Federal Government’s poverty amelioration efforts and are not driving the necessary economic transformation.

“If the states were doing the needful, that would have reduced the suffering of Nigerians,” Kuye said.

Revenue allocation increases

In January, the Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, shared a total of N1.1 trillion December allocation to the Federal Government, States and Local Government councils.

According to a communiqué issued at the end of the FAAC meeting for January 2024, as contained in a statement by the Director of Press and Public Relations under the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Bawa Mokwa, out of the N1,127.408 billion total distributable revenue, the Federal Government received a total of N383.872 billion, the State Governments received N396.693 billion and the Local Government Councils received N288.928 billion.

A total sum of N57.915 billion (13% of mineral revenue) was shared to the benefiting States as derivation revenue.

The Federal Government received N68.793 billion, the State Governments received N229.311 billion and the Local Government Councils received N160.518 billion from the N458.622 billion distributable Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue.

The N17.855 billion Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) was shared as follows: the Federal Government received N2.678 billion, the State Governments received N8.928 billion and the Local Government Councils received N6.249 billion.

The Federal Government received N138.672 billion from the N 287.743 billion Exchange Difference revenue.

The State Governments received N70.336 billion, and the Local Government Councils received N54.226 billion. The sum of N24.509 billion (13% of mineral revenue) was shared to the benefiting States as derivation revenue.

According to DAILY POST findings, despite the increased allocation, many states and local government workers are left to groan over the inability of some governors to fully implement the N30,000 minimum wage.

DAILY POST enquiries showed that several issues still dogged the minimum wage implementation in many States, including Abia, Rivers, Zamfara, Anambra, Imo, Kogi, Taraba.

This comes more than four years after former President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the National Minimum Wage Act, 2019.

Most workers across the states accused governors of paying lip service to the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage, as well as the consequential adjustment of salaries.

NLC compiling list of implementation of wage award across States

A senior official of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, told DAILY POST in confidence that the union is compiling a list of implementation of the policy on wage award by the state governments.

He noted that the exercise was currently ongoing.

‘‘Recently the national body of the NLC put up what we call State-Labour/Government activities status, wherein we are asked to report the level of implementation of minimum wage, that of wage award, number of union members and so on; about five items.

‘‘It is at the end of the exercise that we can say ‘this state is paying or this state is not paying’, so, we can have a kind of statistics of states that are paying and those not paying, those that are half way and so on and so forth. The report is ongoing, I think the last date for the submission is today,’’ he said.

Speaking to DAILY POST in an interview, a media and communication scholar at Peaceland University, Enugu, Nduka Odo, said that the increased revenue allocation to state governments should translate to more efforts on the part of the governors to alleviate current hardship that Nigerians were going through.

Odo opined that since more money was allocated to state governments, more questions should be asked of them too.

“They should shoulder more responsibilities,” he said.

He suggested that the state governments should work with other agencies to create a social security funds system in order to address the worsening economic hardship.

He said, “Increased revenue allocation to state governments should translate to more efforts on the part of the governors to alleviate current hardship that Nigerians are going through. But the real question is, are we seeing that from them? Are we seeing commensurate efforts?

“The answer is no. I have not seen the concerted efforts of states to shoulder the pains of the most downtrodden, especially in this economic quagmire.

“Everyone is focused on the Federal Government. That’s right, since the FG controls almost everything. This is in spite of the chokehold state governments have on local government.

“However, we should focus on where the money goes. If more money is allocated to state governments, more questions should be asked of them too. They should shoulder more responsibilities.

“In some countries, people receive social security funds. Such funds help people to feed and take care of themselves when they’re unable to do so.

“The state governments should work with other agencies to create a similar system in Nigeria. Recent policies have driven citizens out of hinges. This chaos needs to be stopped before it consumes all.”


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