By Akeem Abas
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has called on the Federal Government to surrender the control and management of revenue accruing from natural resources to the states that produced such resources.
The governor made the call on Wednesday at the on-going 57th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Lagos/
A statement signed by his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr Yomi Layinka, said the governor made the call in a paper entitled `Debt as a drag on institution building’ presented at the occasion.
Ajimobi in his paper said the states had continued to rely heavily on the centre for the bulk of revenue to manage their affairs.
“There is urgent need for fiscal independence for the states, if we are to be free from going to Abuja monthly, cap in hand to collect allocations.
“Let the states control some of the resources in their domain.
“Let the Federal Government unbundle some of the responsibilities in its care. Some of the items currently on the exclusive legislative list should be moved to the concurrent list.
“For, instance, there is no reason why the Federal Government should be giving licenses to miners in my state,’’ he said.
The governor stated that there was need to revisit the arrangement, so that the states would not perpetually be at the mercy of the Federal Government.
He said the current practice was stifling the development of the states,adding that that financial independence would reduce the rate at which states obtained loans.
The governor stressed the need for Nigeria to look deeply at its debt management and servicing tactics, strengthening of institutional capacity, adherence to terms and conditions of loans as the panacea to the country’s high debt profile.
He also called for attitudinal change and project financing monitoring.
“There is a positive correlation between meaningful economic growth and strict financial discipline.
“The reverse may be the case when debt servicing, whether external or domestic, becomes burdensome due to mismanagement of loans.
“Nigeria among some other African countries has been noted to be among the world growing economies and as such we cannot but take loans.
“But we must look at the diligent approach and management of our debt.’’
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Finance Minister recalled that his country’s financial journey and post-2007 debt forgiveness by creditors brought about economic growth and development and turn around to Ghana.
He stated that the present administration in Ghana had evolved stringent measures to regulate its debt through the creation of debt management office.
Layinka said Mrs Patience Oniha, Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO) was among important dignitaries that graced the event. (NAN)