From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate, yesterday, mandated the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to review the present revenue allocation formula, to reflect the present and changing economic realities in the country.
The Senate also urged the commission to wake up from its present slumber and discharge its constitutional responsibilities as enshrined in the Act establishing it.
The upper chamber further urged the Federal Government to table the proposed revenue collection formula before the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.
It made these resolutions following a motion brought to the floor of the Senate by Senator Adamu Aliero (APC, Kebbi Central), which he entitled, “The Need for Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to discharge its constitutional functions under paragraph 32 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution”.
While leading the debate on the motion, Aliero noted that pursuant to paragraph 32 of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), RMAFC was established to, among other things, review from time to time the revenue allocation formula and principles in operation, to ensure conformity with changing realities.
He, however, said that the commission should discharge this duty, provided that any revenue formula which had been accepted by an Act of the National Assembly should remain in force for a period of not less than five years from the date of the commencement of the Act.
The politician observed that the current revenue allocation formula had been in operation before the commencement of this democratic dispensation in 1999, noting that there was no extant Act of the National Assembly accepting the present revenue allocation formula, stating that consequent upon this lacuna, the formula was unconstitutional.
Aliero said the constitution did not contemplate that any revenue allocation formula would be perpetuated, noting that the constitution required that the formula be reviewed every five years.
The lawmaker lamented that the present formula was blind to the current and changing economic realities in the country and unjustifiably skewed in favour of the Federal Government.
He noted that most states of the federation were under the bailout of the Federal Government, which runs into billions of naira, saying that most of the states had gone into huge debts, which would make subsequent state governments to inherit such debts.
He cautioned that unless the current formula was reviewed in favour of states and local governments, real growth and development would continue to elude Nigeria.
Contributing, Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South) suggested that the review being canvassed by Aliero must be carried out in such a way that the states would be encouraged to generate more revenue internally rather than depending on handouts from the centre.
He argued that all the states ought to devise means of boosting their internally generated revenue (IGR), saying that reliance on the federal allocation had made the states lazy, and should be discouraged, if the country must move forward.
When the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, put it to voice vote, the prayers of the motion were overwhelmingly supported and passed.