…Says Immunity Should Not Be Holistic To Check Looting Of Public Funds
Executive Assistant to the Governor of Delta State on Communications, Chief Dr Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe Esq, has again stressed the need for True Federalism in Nigeria, and Independent status for the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC.
He made the call via Zoom in Asaba, while responding to questions as a Guest of Quest TV & FM Radio public affairs programme broadcast live on Wednesday 27th October, in Ughelli, Delta State.
Oghenesivbe noted that too much powers given to the federal government under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, as well as the 56.6 percent share of the nation’s revenue to the federal government was responsible for the gross under deployment in the country, adding that until true federalism is practiced, the State governors and federating units will continue to be coerced and shortchanged.
He suggested that for there to be a total reversal from the excessive might of the government at the centre, the Constitution review committee should see to it that true Federalism is entrenched, allowing for resource control by federating units while tax is paid to the federal government.
Okowa’s EAC further asserted that the need for regional or state police cannot be overemphasized in the nation’s quest for effective policing, in the face of increasing multifaceted security challenges that had overwhelmed the federal government, adding that state Governors as Chief Security Officers of their respective jurisdictions, do not have control over the State Commissioners of Police, because CPs take directives from the Inspector General of Police, IGP.
And on the issues of upward review of revenue sharing, derivation funds and endemic corruption in the management of Federal and State financial resources, Oghenesivbe suggested that the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, should be independent, such that the Presidency is devoid of interference.
He noted that the current practice of presenting Revenue Sharing Reviews to Mr. President by RMAFC for onward transmission to the National Assembly, should be stopped immediately, saying that the practice was responsible for the over 30 years delay in the review which ought to be carried out every five years as entrenched in the constitution.
“True Federalism is the only cure to the lopsided revenue sharing in the country, with the federal government grabbing the lion share, whereas the state and local governments are closer to the people and are saddled with the responsibility of providing basic socioeconomic needs, education, healthcare, etcetera, as well as securing their subregion’s geographical entity as Chief Security Officers.
“It is long overdue for Revenue Review and the time is now for us to face the reality. The agitation by some States for FG’s share to be reduced to 40% while States and local governments share is jacked up to 60% is a welcome development. This would less the financial burden on federating units and provide apple opportunities for accelerated development.
“The functions of Governors as CSOs must be backed by executive authority in the constitution to direct and to compel State Commissioners of Police to act, take instructions and report to State Governors, otherwise no meaningful results will be achieved in curbing crimes.
“Insecurity is a complex problem and cannot be left solely under the control of the federal government, which is why we need a brand new constitution or reasonable amendments that will accommodate the multifaceted issues that had over the years slowed down socioeconomic and infrastructure development occasioned by lingering acute Insecurity in the country.
“In addition to that, RMAFC should be independent and made to present revenue sharing reviews directly to the National Assembly to prevent Mr. President from sweeping it under the carpet. The over 30 years delay in reviewing the revenue sharing amounts to technical suspension of certain provisions of the constitution by past Presidents, and a deliberate attempt by previous administrations to fraudulently and criminally shortchange states and local governments.
“To check persistent looting of public treasuries by the Presidency, governors and Council Chairmen, it is recommended that immunity should no longer be holistic for certain categories of elected public servants. To that extent, there should be no immunity on issues bordering on financial mismanagement and outright looting of public funds by President, Vice President, Governors and their deputies.
“A transparent check and balance mechanism should be entrenched in the constitution, separate from the oversight functions of the Legislators, which provides for independent investigation and prosecution of elected public officers, so that immunity no longer shield them from being accountable to the people while in office. This will drastically reduce the spate of deliberate and reckless looting of federal, States and Lcal Governments treasuries by unscrupulous public office holders in the country.
“Under development of oil producing States of the Niger Delta region should not be blamed on the States alone. The federal government is the major problem for not having a deliberate master plan for the overall development of the region.
“The region resources is the totality of the economic prosperity of Nigeria, including our foreign reserves and other savings. To that extent, FG must carryout direct and indirect physical infrastructure development and empowerment of the people in the region, separate from the activities of NDDC and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
“Most importantly, the Northern Supremacists in the Presidency must stay away from the affairs of NDDC, because their overbearing influence in the award of contracts and day to day running of the commission had to a large extent slowed down the speed of work, and had drastically obstructed good governance and fractured development of oil bearing communities.
“Going forward, we need a new constitution and where that is not possible, the constitution review committee should ensure that the ongoing amendments must include the independent of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, such that its recommendations for Revenue Review is sent directly to the National Assembly within the period stipulated in the constitution.
“Secondly, the 13% derivation for oil bearing States/communities should be reviewed upward to 50% considering the huge and degrading ecological damage to the region, especially riverine communities, and clearly enshrined same in the constitution to avoid criminal or mischievous manipulations.
“The 50% derivation will enable federating states in the region to facilitate development, improve security strategies, secure the region and handle ecological issues with minimal recourse to the federal government.
“The governors and their deputies should be held accountable under the new arrangements for mismanagement or outright looting of public funds in their respective States.
“Partial immunity is strongly recommended and inserted in the constitution to allow for criminal prosecution of corrupt public servants while in office, especially the President, his Vice, governors and their deputies,” Oghenesivbe said.