Mr. Governors, for the Umpteenth Time, how has FAAC Impacted Lives in Your States?

By Victor Agi

Every other month, for those of us who have keenly followed the activities of the Federation Account Allocation Committee’s (FAAC), not less than a trillion is being announced to have been generated and disbursed among the three tiers of government, at least since the removal of subsidy, which has significantly improved revenue for the government. In fact, the Punch had reported that statutory federal allocations to the coffers of the state governments alone is expected to increase by 69 per cent, from N3.3 trillion in 2023 to N5.54tn in 2024 based on the approved budged and revenue projection.

So far in the year, states have received N379.41 billion, N366.950 billion, N398.689 billion and N403 billion as statutory allocations from the FAAC for January, February, March and April respectively, amounting to a total of N1.548 trillion disbursement to state governors alone in first four months of the year. Similarly, the local government areas (LGAs), which operate more like states appendixes, have received N278.04 billion, 267.153 billion, N288.688 billion and N293 billion, amounting to N1.126 trillion as allocation for the preceding four months of the year respectively. With the lack of fiscal federalism, especially at the subnational level, which has seen the state governments assuming near absolute control of local government resources and expenditures in most of the states, one would not get into any trouble to claim that the state governors have had access to over N2.6 trillion as statutory allocation alone in the last four months.

This is besides internally generated revenue, 13 percent derivation revenue (for benefitting states) and others. For instance, it’s unclear what has happened to the $299.99 million of the $800 World Banks’ loan released for the National Social Safety Net Program scale up? One cannot determine the number of citizens who have directly or indirectly benefited from this intervention and other federal government palliatives to states to cushion the impact of the removal of subsidy.

Despite increased allocation to the state and local government areas year-on-year, the last four months are arguably the most biting for Nigerians across the societal spectrum. From increased cost of living (with inflation figure at 33.69% as of April 2024) to high cost of transportation and the recent hike in electricity tariff, the rich and the poor alike have had their taste of hardship as a result of government policies.

Mr. Governors, the last time we checked, fifteen (15) states are yet to domesticate the N30,000 minimum wage that was signed in 2019, with only Edo state known to have made public announcements in recent time about increment in staff wages to cushion the impact of the current hardship. Yet, we have not seen any move to cut down the cost of governance in your respective states, rather, with more cash from FAAC, the cost of governance continues to shoot up, while ordinary citizens are left to fend for themselves. It is no longer news that prices of basic commodities are beyond reach for the ordinary people in your respective states. Food inflation figure for April 2024 reached 40.53%, signifying a whopping 15.92% increase year-on-year from 24.61% in April 2023. For instance, a bag of local rice staples which cost between N30-35 thousand twelve months ago now costs between N60-67 thousand naira. Prices of some commodities have more than doubled within the period, yet citizens income streams have either vanished, diminished, or remain the same due to unfavourable economic conditions.

Without prejudice to the efforts of a few of you, Mr. Governors, a lot needs to be done to address the current hardship in the land. While we acknowledge that the so-called increase in FAAC may, in real economic sense, be insignificant giving the general inflation, it’s time to think outside the box, and deploy strategies that will push more money for capital projects that will benefit the greater majority in the medium-long term, top of which will be to introduce austerity measures.

Mr. Governors, in the short term, your citizens need an emergency food intervention to address the biting food inflation. This will bring immediate succour to the “angry” population who are hungry. Instead of spending scarce foreign currency on so-called Peace and Security Summit overseas like some of your blocs did recently for instance, how about paying more attention to investing massively in food production and job creation, perhaps, the idle population are just the devil’s workshop. While it’s true that the current insecurity is beyond hunger, one cannot overstate the fact that hardship has made many susceptible and driven a lot into the hands of the enemies of the state.

On a final note, Mr. Governors, can we let the LGAs “beath” so they can operate like autonomous tier of government which they are? From earlier stated figures, the LGAs have collectively received N1.126 trillion from FAAC in the first four months of the year, yet, government presence at rural communities, which houses about 52% of the population is next to nothing. The sheer lack of corporate governance, that is, a defined structure through which the LGAs are directed, controlled, and held accountable independently is alarming, and should not be encouraged to continue. For instance, in its 2023 assessment, the Center for Fiscal Transparency and Public Integrity (TII) through its Transparency and Integrity Index (TII) assessed the 774 LGAs’ compliance with access to information laws that promote transparency, accountability and citizens engagement, it was surprising to find that only seven LGAs have functional websites. This makes it difficult for LGAs administrators to be held accountable by the people as they are mostly subservient to the Governors who most times “appoint” them into offices. This has to change.

Remember, Mr. Governors, Nigerians elect you to fix the problems and not complain about how insurmountable they have become, get to work!

Victor Agi is the Public Relations Lead at the Center for Fiscal Transparency and Public Integrity and writes from Abuja

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *