By Juliet Ukanwosu
As part of efforts to ensure that allocations and disbursements of extractive revenues translates to visible development and better the lives of communities in Nigeria, the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has begun advocacy aimed at addressing the implementation gaps in subnational transfers.
To this end, the Accra based organization, in collaboration with the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and Ziva Community Initiative, on Monday in Abuja, held a stakeholder’s dialogue to brainstorm on the issues and proffer possible solutions to address the challenges.
Speaking at the event, ACEP Executive Director, Benjamin Boakye, stressed that the realities of our time necessitates the urgent need to cause the change we all want to see, particularly with the utilization of extractive revenues.
He pointed out that Africa is a blessed continent, and Nigeria in particular, a blessed country with resources that countries crave for, and as such we must all work together to make the resources a blessing to the people rather than a curse.
“Time is not on our side anymore, we must be more efficient in how we use our resources, we must make every Naira and Dollar count… We must continue to engage to optimize our resources and let the benefit to communities count while advancing the development of our countries by optimizing revenue from our resources,” Boakye said.
Speaking further he said, “We do understand that in the Nigerian context, there are allocations that go to communities and States for the benefit of the people such as the 13% derivation fund. We have observed that even though there is that allocation, complaints on the ground shows that the resources could be better utilized.”
Boakye explained that findings have showed that leadership is key in optimizing the utilization of allocations to States, adding that governors must begin to decentralize power to local administration in order for the revenue to trickle down for the development of communities.
According to him, further meetings will be held with some governors and leaders to think through how to optimize benefits to communities. “We have planned a series of stakeholder engagements on how to improve the architecture of the revenue disbursement for the benefit of the people. We are more interested in result, we will work with our partners and community leaders to ensure the conversation yields results,” he added.
In his lead presentation, Dr. Tim Okon, concluded that institutional development and organizational strengthening lies at the heart of improving the governance framework in Nigeria.
Dr. Okon who blamed state capture for the failure of the 13% derivation fund to translate to meaningful development of communities in the Niger Delta, maintained that rules setting is important because it removes opacity, affirms processes and procedures and must include consequent management. “There is considerable consensus around the decline in institutional values and a weak justice system,” He said.
While positing that States need a constitution where rules can be set, he emphasized that many states in Nigeria nonetheless, need simple rules to save the country from economic collapse.
In the absence of a constitution however, Dr. Okon stressed the need for States to adopt rules such as the Fiscal Responsibility Act, in other to save Nigeria from multidimensional poverty.