From PETER OKORE, Umuahia
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state has used the occasion of the on-going review of the revenue sharing formula nationwide by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to make a strong case for true fiscal federalism in the country, where States will have autonomy to manage resources in their domains; and in the case of natural resources, pay royalties to the federal government.
Governor Ikpeazu who made the call when he received in audience a delegation of the Federal Commissioner, representing Abia State at the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Abuja, Dr. Chris Akomas at Government Lodge, Aba, stressed that the clarion call for states to make contributions to the ongoing review of the revenue sharing formula by the Commission (RMAFC) is a welcome development.
The governor recalled that the Eastern Region of Nigeria was rated as having the fastest growing economy in the world during the time of Dr. Michael Okpara; when true federalism was pracised and different regions controlled their own resources.
Ikpeazu observed that everyone and every region is not equally endowed by nature, arguing that such regions must be powered to enjoy the benefits of those endowments since they also live with the disadvantages of such endowments, especially environmental degradation.
To back-up his submission, the governor announced the setting up of a Committee to that effect, which would be headed by the Abia state Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Aham Uko and thanked Dr. Chris Akomas for the good job he is doing at the RMAFC.
The Governor also used the opportunity to request that funds reserved for Federal roads by the Federal Government should be sent to States to fix the federal roads that cut across those States, pointing out that States should be allowed and empowered to do the Federal government roads in their domains.
Ikpeazu, in spite of his political differences hinted that “Abia State is proud of Akomas”, describing him as one of the brightest and most intelligent public officers Abia State has produced.
Speaking earlier, Akomas, who is the Chairman of the Committee on Indices and Disbursement Committee of the Commission, explained to the governor that his team was in Abia to sensitize the State Government on the on-going process of the Review of the Revenue sharing formula of the Federal Government.
He explained that the process of reviewing Revenue Sharing Formula is the constitutional responsibility of the Commission, saying that responses to the Review is urgent. He indicated that the next stage of the review would be the Zonal Public Hearings where States would make their positions known.
As Akomas put it, “the sensitization programme would offer a new and people-oriented revenue sharing formula for the nation in the shortest possible time” and solicited necessary and positive contributions through interactive sessions and submission of memoranda.
He stated that the on-going sensitisation programme is part of the commission’s mandate, as stipulated in relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, to review the country’s revenue sharing formula to meet the yearnings of both the three tiers of government and the generality of the people in the light of changing realities.
Akomas, a former Deputy Governor in the State appreciated Governor Ikpeazu and his counterpart- Governors in the South-East geo-political zone for their efforts in handling security challenges in the region and thanked him (Ikpeazu) also for all his attempts to achieve good governance in Abia State.
His words, “This sensitization is to enlist the interests of Stakeholders through interactions at various levels in order to get informed and make useful inputs that can provide workable template to assist the Commission in the onerous task of evolving and bequeathing to the nation a fair, just and equitable new revenue sharing formula.
“I wish to reiterate that the Commission is greatly desirous in providing within the shortest time possible, a generally acceptable new Revenue sharing formula that will benefit the citizenry.
“This assignment is to be handled with every seriousness to ensure that all levels of government will make contributions that will guarantee equity and fairness”.
The Federal Commissioner was accompanied on the visit by the Federal Commissioner representing Rivers State in the Commission, Mr Temple Wener Osondi and some Senior Directors in the Commission.