Tinubu to S/West Govs: You must continue to demand for true fiscal federalism

Former Lagos state Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at the commissioning of the newly built Internal Revenue Service office in Akure on Saturday
Former Lagos state Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at the commissioning of the newly built Internal Revenue Service office in Akure on Saturday

The National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has asked governors of the Southwest states not to let their membership of the ruling party deter them from continuing with the struggle for true fiscal federalism.

The former Lagos state Governor who spoke at the commissioning of the newly built Internal Revenue Service office which was constructed by the Governor Rotimi Akeredolu administration in Ondo on Saturday said the fact that the governors are members of APC  does not mean that they cannot criticize the present Nigeria’s revenue allocation formular .

He noted that with the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Osun counterpart, Isiaka Oyetola’s background in finance and Akeredolu as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria among others, Southwest governors should be at the forefront of the struggle to ensure that revenue allocation in Nigeria conform to fiscal federalism.

Tinubu, said he has noticed various encroachments of the federal government into matters which should be in the domain of the states and the governors should not be afraid to ask questions about them.

He said, “Three of you should be consistent in the level of financial inquisitiveness as to where, why and when the revenue allocation mechanism will be consistent with the fiscal federalism of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“There are various encroachments that I have noticed and with you (Governor Akeredolu) as a SAN and the rest of the financial people among you, you can be highly intellectually inquisitive and you can reform the reform- able that is a federal bottleneck today.

Thank you for seeing the need that this internally generated revenue must take off from a very good atmosphere.

“And as you continue that too, as I said, questions and query what element of stamp duty is that of federal allocation and what element of the transaction belong to the states and why are we getting involved in what should be the residual matter of the state? Why the encroachment? – Telling each other the truth, not smiling all the time, even in the same family of twins, they do argue, they do ask questions – We will not be afraid to ask questions and do the right things for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The former Lagos State Governor commended the Ondo State Governor for laying a good foundation for the overall development of the state.

Tinubu said Akeredolu has done more than talk development and dedicated himself and his administration to bringing development to the state.

He noted that since the Governor came on board in 2016, he has had his hands on the plough, recording one milestone after another.

“Among the laudable projects he has launched is the Ore Industrial Hub which was commissioned by President Buhari. That industrial hub will bring needed employment and economic development to the deserving people living in the Ore vicinity.

“Step by step, project by project, industrial hub by industrial hub is how we construct the foundation for durable progress and prosperity. Governor Akeredolu has done more than talk development; he has dedicated himself and his government to bringing development to this state,” Tinubu said.

Earlier in his remark, Governor Akeredolu said his administration inherited a monthly Internally Generated Revenue if not more than N700million.

Governor Akeredolu noted that before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the state was already generating N2billion monthly.

He said: “When we took over the administration of the State in 2017, one of our strongest desires was to change the Tax narratives of the State and generate the ambience of modern tax processes and collection.

“I am very sure you will all agree with me that Revenue is the live wire of any administration which craves success. Some of the numerous challenges inherited by this Administration, in our bid to actualize the aforementioned desire, was the menace of a notorious tax system and a Board of Internal Revenue that was moribund and ineffectual.

“Revenue generation activities were stifled, all operations were manual, a disenchanted workforce, 15 vehicles out of 23 were grounded. There was also a cumbersome process of tax payment which ensured that Tax Payers waited for days to pay at the bank and spent even more days to get their receipts. They would consider themselves lucky to get documents evidencing transactions.

“Here in Akure, the State capital, where the head office was dirty and the operations chaotic, the Board was operating under the Personal Income Tax 2004 and ignoring completely all the amendments to the law in 2011. There was also no domestication of the Federal Law to grant some form of financial and administrative autonomy to the Board of Internal revenue. This made their access to funds for their operations tedious. In fact, the board only got running grant for 9 out of 12 months in 2016 as a result of sloppiness.”