‘FG should bear states’ wage burden’
TO avoid a possible breakdown of law and order that could result from insolvency of states and inability to administer their territories, concerned stakeholders and experts in public administration have called on the Federal Government to “employ the doctrine of necessity” by paying off all the salary and pension arrears being owed by states.
The transfer of the wage burden from the states to the Federal Government, according to a communiqué released at the end of a seminar with the theme, “Federal Opulence and State Indigence: A case for Fiscal Federalism in Nigeria” held in Ibadan last week, would douse the tension created in the states by their inability to pay salaries of workers.
The seminar, which was organised by the Atayese, a socio-political group, to commemorate the 58th anniversary of the introduction of self-government in the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, also urged states “to leverage on their areas of comparative advantage like the professions, agriculture, information technology, tourism, infrastructure, education, medical health etc” to make the desired change in their fortunes.
A ten-point recommendation in the communiqué signed by Mr. Tokunbo Ajasin, son of late NADECO Chieftain and former governor of old Ondo State, Michael Adekunle Ajasin and Ambassador T.A.O Otunla also stated that states “should have short, medium and long-term goals which should be benchmarked against specific milestones.”
Other recommendations include “Drastic reduction in the cost of governance through the elimination of high overhead expenses by cancellation of the various perks and allowances enjoyed by public officers- like government provisioned and maintained chauffeur driven vehicles, reduction in the dubious and not necessarily justifiable use of consultants for activities ordinarily performed by public officers, government provisioned and maintained houses for public servants, etc.
“That our states should operate a transparent and open government by carrying all stakeholders along in its decision making process- Unions, civil society groups, youth associations, think-tanks etc.
“That unviable states consider merging with others to enhance their viability. Primarily poor states must be administered at costs bearable by their revenue generation capacities and that amendments of the constitution should reflect six federating regions/zones and institution of a collegial presidency.”
Specifically for the South West geo-political zone, the seminar which was attended by a wide cross section of opinion makers and intellectuals from academia, civil society groups, government officials, various professionals as well as experts in public finance, suggested among others that:
“The governors of the South West should endeavour to meet monthly or bi-monthly to discuss, share experiences and obtain feedback/follow through on their policies while updating same and that an Odua Development Fund should be set up from proceeds and investments dividends of Odua Investment Company Ltd and high net worth individuals in the zone.”