2 June 2014

Nigeria: Okonjo-Iweala Says Jonathan's Govt Alone Cannot Transform Nigeria

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, yesterday, tasked Nigerians to challenge their governors to account for the monthly budgetary allocation they get from the federation account.

The minister argued that basic public services such as education, health and agriculture fall under the concurrent list, but wondered why citizens always blame the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan for the failings of some state governments who get monthly allocation larger than countries like Liberia, Gambia and the Republic of Benin.

Okonjo Iweala spoke yesterday at the 12th convocation of Babcock University, BU, Ilishan Remo, where over 1,544 students graduated.

The minister, who was awarded Doctor of Science in Global Economic Development, Honoris Causa, urged Nigerians to begin to demand improved standards of living from their state governments, rather than accusing the Federal Government of insensitivity all the time.

'We're all involved'

She said: "The administration of President Goodluck Jonathan alone cannot transform the country. We need the private sector to work with us and we are optimistic of their immense collaboration in the transformation agenda.

"But in addition, the question all Nigerians must ask is 'what is the role of state and local governments in supporting our transformation?'.

"We know in the constitution that provision for public services such as health, education and agriculture falls on the concurrent list and so it is the joint responsibility of federal, state and local governments.

"However, it is not often that we hear people asking what their state governments have done? A lot of attention tends to be on the Federal Government. But we have to ask what do our state and local governments do with the resources they get.

"The states are getting the money that is available to be shared each month, and we publish that in the newspapers every month so that people can know what the federal, state and local governments receive.

'Ask more questions'

"We need to ask more questions because poverty eradication and building of infrastructure is not for the Federal Government alone."

The minister stated that in 2013 alone, states like Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Lagos, Kano, Katsina, Oyo, Kaduna and Borno got the highest allocation from the federation account, and that what they got individually is more than the annual budgetary allocation of neighbouring countries such as Liberia, Gambia and Republic of Benin.

2013 allocations

The minister said: "Akwa Ibom got N260 billion; Rivers, N230 billion; Delta, N209 billion; Bayelsa, N173 billion; Lagos, N168 billion; Kano, N140 billion; Katsina, N103 billion; Oyo N100 billion; Kaduna, N97 billion and Borno, N94 billion.

"These were the allocations these states got last year. So the question is what did they do with it?

"Analysis shows that many Nigerian states receive revenue allocations which are larger than budgetary allocations of neighbouring countries such as Liberia which is $433 million and Gambia, $210 million."

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