Governors accuse Nigerian government of violating constitution

Feb 20, 2004 01:00 AM

Governors of the 36 States in Abuja accused the Federal Government of cheating the states by not complying with the provisions of Section 163 of the 1999 Constitution in sharing of the proceeds of funds accruing to the Federation Account. Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola said they all agreed that it is against the spirit of the constitution for the Federal Government to keep back part of the proceeds from the sale of crude oil.
"What is being reserved is what comes from the excess on crude oil. You will notice that by way of budgeting, a certain amount is taken into consideration in the fiscal year. We believe a barrel of crude oil is sold at $ 22. And in the event of it selling for $ 26 per barrel, what is above the budgeted amount is known as excess crude and this is what is being kept centrally and shared at intervals. This is what we want to be shared to the states," he said.

Oyinlola added that "there is need to abide by the dictates of the constitution, especially, as it relates to Section 163(b) of the 1999 Constitution. It stipulates that all funds that stand to the credit of the Federation Account should be shared.”
“The current experience that certain amount of money should be saved for the proverbial rainy day is contrary to the dictates of the constitution and a resolution has been made that we will draw the attention of the authority to this abnormality, because the dictates of the constitution is sacrosanct and can not be faulted."

The Osun State governor also called on the Federal Government to track down the killers of deceased South-south leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief A. Dikibo and send a delegation to condole the family.
"We remind the security agency of the need to ensure that such a thing does not occur again and to ensure that those who are involved are brought to book. This case should not go like those of the previous experience. That is why the Governors Forum want to draw the attention of the security to the need to bring the culprits to book," he stated.

The meeting was attended by among others the governors of Osun, Taraba, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Kogi and Anambra States. Also deputy governors of Ebonyi, Abia, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, Osun and Kano States among others were in attendance.
Section 163 of the Constitution states that "where under an Act of the National Assembly, tax or duty is imposed in respect of any of the matters specified in item D of part II of the second schedule to this constitution, the net proceeds of such tax or duty shall be distributed among the states on the basis of derivation and accordingly."

Part 6 of the section states that "where such tax or duty is collected by the Government of the Federation or other authority of the federation, there shall be paid to each state at such times as the National Assembly may prescribe a sum equal to the proportion of the net proceeds of such tax or duty that are derived from that state."
However, Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala dropped a hint that the Federal Government would want the excess revenue from crude oil to be saved in an account instead of sharing it among the states. She said sharing the money could further worsen the inflationary trend in the economy as the excess liquidity would increase beyond control.

There are also debates as to whether state governors efficiently utilised the excess fund from sale of crude if shared and released to them.
Some commentators noted that when the money from the sales of GSM operating licenses, was shared among states instead of being used to develop telecommunication infrastructures as stated by government while calling for bids for the license, it was in most states not spent on profitable and beneficial projects.

Source: This Day
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