When humans forget themselves, they do things others won’t forget in a hurry. That state of temporary mental imbalance is what is today, commonly referred to as five minutes madness, although the time, causes and frequency vary according to individuals. For our purpose, it could be more or less, the individual’s level of depression, extent of moral depravity, anxiety, malice and lack of sufficient sleep. It could also be actuated by greed.
But when an individual attains certain high privileged positions in society and government, his or her social, medical, family, personal or even domestic needs are borne by government – the state, that gesture is intended to ensure, among other things, that such an individual suffers less personal worries while attempting to offer quality service and also help minimize, if possible, eliminate the likely incidence of fatal madness, often responsible for dangerous goofs of amnesia.
By his position, as Governor of Niger State, Dr Babangida Aliyu is depended upon to face PREVAILING REALITIES (not mine, his) and avoid being diagnosed as five minutes mad, in thoughts, words and deeds.
But his dabble, a forthnight ago, into the issue of revenue allocation; his quarrel with what accrues to those who monthly bring revenue from oil and gas to the Federation Accounts allocation table and from which states like Aliyu’s Niger benefit without commensurate merit and his ill-timed advocacy for a downward review of the percentage on derivation, offends a popular Okrika adage: Bukulo Koro-bo inji die-die ke”, which translated means, ‘a mere passenger in a fishing boat never allocates the catch to its owners.
Only three sets of people enjoy such power: armed robbers, sea pirates or bullies who often count on their might as right, and in wielding such physical endowment, not only seek to determine what the boat owners and fishermen must get but also appropriates to himself, being, as area boys often say, Eye wey see. Even in the latter instance, it often comes with measured plea and then later, a subtle threat.
Niger State Governor, Aliyu has never been known to be any of those anti-social characters, who, so ungrateful and morally depraved could demonstrate such insane measure of insensitivity to the plight of itinerant fishermen, who, not merely weathered turbulent waves, rains and other elements but also graciously offered the stranger lift from one stop to another, only for such a by-passer to dictate his share.
Unfortunately, that’s akin to what Governor Aliyu’s alleged insistence on a fresh revenue allocation formula, in favour of the Northern states, as against the oil-bearing states, who, for nearly 50 years were short-changed, marginalized, and indeed, under- developed, amount to. But he is an honourable man that commands tremendous respect, even from among states outsides his superintendence.
These are why I am reluctant to conclude that his comments, although clear goofs often engineered by amnesia, might be by-products of the human five or so minutes madness. And it is for that singular factor that this column finds it proper to straighten some facts which the respected governor, might have over-looked inadvertently in his hurry to make a marked difference not only in his state, Niger but also the entire Northern states, to whose rulers he is presently a political head.
This attempt will therefore avoid the boring history of revenue allocation in Nigeria. Suffice it to say that regional resources were regionally managed and merely paid tax to the centre. The lowest ever received by productive regions based on derivation was 50 per cent. In those years of the groundnut pyramids, today’s oil-bearing communities and states knew that they brought little to the allocation table and so looked elsewhere to meet their needs. Not once did they demonstrate the measure of greed being observed in several quarters.
Sadly, soon after oil became a mainstay of the Nigerian economy, what used to be accepted as resource control by the then producing regions was considered a taboo. In fact, at various times, men with the same mindstead as Governor Aliyu chose what to give the oil-bearing states.
For instance, the percentage on derivation was 3 per cent when General Muhammadu Buhari, on December 31, 1983 over-threw the elected President Shehu Shagari, to become Head of State and Commander-in-Chief. In what became one of that military administration’s acts of insensitivity, the 3 percent was slashed to 1.5 per cent, a disturbing 50 per cent downward-review, just to gratify the unproductive.
After years of weeping and wailing, and sometimes appeals to the court of public opinion and of law, that percentage went up and by 1999, eventually hit 13 per cent to the oil-bearing states of the federation. The rest is then shared to all other states based on some yardsticks which are also weighed in favour of the North, while, the others, like Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) was made to stir healthy competition and creativity among governments.
Currently, the revenue allocation formula is 52.68 per cent for the Federal Government; 26.72 per cent for the states, and 20.6 per cent for local council areas while a paltry 13 per cent is given to the oil-bearing states. In a proper federation, something far less than the 13 per cent, which the oil-bearing states get is what should be paid to the centre as tax. In such a case, every state would be required to generate enough revenue to run their affairs or simply be joined with more viable ones.
However, the horizontal allocation formula now in use considers certain principles (factors) and allocates to such areas various percentages. These include: Equality of states – 40 per cent; population 30 per cent, Internal Revenue effort 10 per cent, Land mass and Terrain 10 per cent, Education 4.00 per cent, health 3.00 per cent and water 3.00 per cent.
From the fore-going, apart from the 40 per cent for equality of states and perhaps, those for education, health and water, the appropriations in some way, favour the North in the areas such as population 30 per cent, and land mass/terrain 10 per cent while Internally Generated Revenue is a competitive one intended to make states more creative, by attracting viable investments out from which revenue could be sourced for the development of such states. But that is only feasible when the right variables are in place, namely; security, infrastructural development, competent manpower and nearness to the source of raw materials, among others.
These considerations, and religious pursuit of their positive application are what stand-out Lagos State, a non-oil bearing state to attract ample revenue to supplement internally generated revenue, enough to create and fund more local government areas for development.
Lagos, like Rivers State, knew early that a child that is used to spoon-feeding and in his youth not exposed to hardwork and independent thinking, is most likely to be lazy and would end-up blaming everyone except himself and his parents for his lack of creativity to face the challenges of adulthood. So, they prepared early for realities of the time. Why not others?