From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has called on governors in the 36 states of the federation to stop relying on federal allocations for survival, charging them to invest hugely in those areas where they have comparative advantages so as to boost their internally generated revenue.
Osinbajo gave the charge on Thursday in Ado-Ekiti while speaking at an Ekiti Economic and Investment summit tagged : ‘Fountain Summit 2021′ organised by Governor Kayode Fayemi’s Government to find solutions to the socio-econmic challenges facing the state.
This was just as some state governors Kayode Fayemi, Godwin Obaseki, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Nasir El-Rufai of Ekiti, Edo, Lagos and Kaduna respectively made a case for state police
saying it will help mitigate the problem of insecurity and promote investments.
They insisted that preventing governors of respective states to take charge of security is affecting investments, development and wellbeing of the people adversely.
The summit titled: “Investment attractiveness, and Economic Development : Lesson for the Sub-nationals’, was attended by the Governors El-Rufai, Obaseki, Sanwolu and their counterpart from Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu, represented by his deputy, Lucky Ayedatiwa with members of the business community and diplomatic corps.
The Vice President, who was one of the panelists, stated that time has come for the Chief executives of the states of the country to start thinking about how to grow the economy like a nation, by investing in most appropriate ways in areas of their economic strength.
He said “the attractiveness of investments to any state should be in radical, because that is the revenue hub and determinant of how happy the people of any state will be in terms of economic development in relation to their standard of living.
“But while trying to grow investments, we must be cautious about multiple taxation, it weighs down businesses. Ekiti is a business-friendly environment. Ekiti has also excelled in the aspect of ease of doing business. You have vast arable lands for agriculture. Also of recent the Government of Ekiti divested 76 percent of shares in the Ikun Dairy farm for Promasidor for the production of 80,000 litres of milk daily.
“Let me say that Ekiti has a bigger economy than many Africa nations. The question we should ask ourselves is that if I were the landlord of this nation, how do we survive? During my time as a Commissioner in Lagos, we started with N600 million monthly Internally Generated Revenue in 1999. The seizure of Lagos funds by President Olusegun Obasanjo made us think like a sovereign state. Today, Lagos is making over N45 billion monthly.
“The surest way forward is to deepen investments in the areas where Ekiti has comparative advantage. We should also make good investment in technology to grow the knowledge economy, which is education.
“Let me commend the foresightedness of governor Fayemi to know that the technology is the best way to go. I am even happy that the low in charges of the broadband airwave has already started attracting investments to Ekiti. What is in vogue now is that, well trained people in technology are the game changers”.
Osinbajo urged Ekiti should leverage on their value in education it has acquired to develop its investments. I believe Ekiti has not lost this value. it has to be fountain of the knowledge economy, not just the fountain of knowledge.
“The Afe Babalola University multisystem hospital in Ado Ekiti is now being mentioned internationally. It has made breakthroughs in neurosurgical, surgical, plastic surgery and many other areas of medicine. Many countries don’t have such facility”.
On the lingering security crisis that is gradually crippling the economy, Governor Fayemi insisted that multi -level policing system remains the best way out of the present conundrum.
Fayemi said: “This request does not mean abrogation of the central Police. If you have problem of security in Kaduna, Governor El-Rufai can easily take charge. My recent experience and many of our governors were not even palatable where we wanted to procure drones and Mr President was with us on the issue but the NSA refused us End User Certificate, but we got it one year after.
“As of now, security is on the exclusive list. Even If the FG is ready to allow us procure some arms, we have to sign MOu with the Nigerian Airforce. We have to work together collaboratively, because investors consider security as number one in any state”.
Fayemi stated that his government has signed a bill into law establishing Ekiti Economic Council to plan and implement this summit to ensure that the outcome outlives his administration.
On how to cut cost of governance, Fayemi said we are of the opinion that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped in no small measures, saying the dwindling revenues to states has taught a lesson that governors must block leakages in revenue collection and leverage on areas where they can get support from the federal government, especially the social intervention programmes.
Fayemi said he had completed many of the projects left behind by Governor Ayodele Fayose, saying abandonment on the basis of lack of interest and change of party are constituting great impediment to growth and development.
Lending his voice to the creation of state police, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said: ” When you have investments, you would have to protect them and take also responsibility for whatever happens. The investors will rely on the governors for protection and it is sad that we are not in charge. This is the area where the federal government must look into the issue of state police”.
Suggesting how Ekiti can transform its IGR and break the challenge of sole reliance on federal allocation, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the Lagos State is now making between N45 and N48 billion monthly from the paltry N600 million being realised in 1999.
Sanwo-Olu suggested that the state should digitalise its revenue collection process and give staff in the state Internal Revenue Service incentives to do their jobs without perpetrating corruption.
“You must have robust technology and ensure people don’t collect money with hands. Make sure your money is centrally collected. Also block all loopholes. Also encourage your staff by giving them small bonus, so that they can deliver more. Ekiti has the potential to think like a country.”
Supporting the call for a state police, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said police should be removed from the exclusive list for state Chief executives to be in firm control.
“If you have businesses, you have to protect them and you must have the apparatuses. Security is on the exclusive list and we are looking up to the Federal government to remove for states to take charge. We must provide facilities for the police to be able to train our local vigillante, because in Edo State that was what we did. We raised a vigilante group to police our villages from kidnappers and other criminals”.
Speaking about the role of ICT to driving economy at the subnational level, Obaseki advised that states should use ICT to recast primary education by making the children at that age to perceive computer as part of their lives.
The Kaduna state Governor, Nasir El-Rufai described security as a big problem that every Nigerian should be concerned about.
Laying foundation for why the policing system should be decentralised, the Kaduna State Governor said: “We have 150,000 personnel in the Nigerian army. Police was 400,000 by the time this government came on board, but has gone down to 300,000 now. We need multi level police. Policing is local just like a unitary environment like Britain.
“Kaduna State is about 46,000sqkms in size . Boko Haram has been chased from Northeast by ISWAP and now occupying the Northwest. But if they are dislodged here, where would they go? . This is why we should all be concerned.
The Kaduna governor added that the country must decentralise the power of National Judicial Council to determine number of Judges a state can have.
“No country to develop beyond the level of its civil service, you must appoint the right civil servants and we just give way for younger people to take Nigeria to the next level.
“I have just appointed the youngest Chief executive, 28 -year-old to be in charge of Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency”