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Friday, 27 September 2013


In our attempt to proffer better ways of doing and implementing transparent revenue derivation and sharing formula we turned to the United States where it is a global view that accountability is their key word even as enforcement mechanisms are in place to check loopholes and avenues of looting of public fund.  From Wikipedia the online Encyclopedia we turned to and fortunately we could decipher that the budget of the US government often begin as the President proposals to the US Congress which recommends funding levels for the next fiscal year, beginning October 1st.  However, congress is the body required by law to pass a budget annually and to submit the budget passed by both Houses to the president for signature.  Congressional decisions are governed by rules and legislation regarding the federal budget process. In Nigeria we have grown used to the frequent and regular acrimony that ensues each time the Federal Government is required to present budget proposals to the National Assembly of Nigeria which by law is authorized to approve all releases and appropriations.

Although intra-partisan quarrels are noticed in the US but not to the near-infinite and permanent dimension that BUDGET PRESENTATION AND PROCESS OF PASSING INTO LAW AND IMPORTANTLY IMPLEMENTATIONS ARE DONE IN Nigeria. In the US, Budget committees set spending limits for the House and senate committees and for appropriation subcommittees, which then approve individual appropriation bills to allocate funding to various federal programs.

Note however, if congress fails to pass an annual budget (as has been the case since 2009) a series of appropriation bills must be passed as “stop gap” measures.

After congress approves an appropriations bill, it is sent to the president who may sign it into law, or may veto it (as he would a budget when passed by congress).  A vetoed bill is sent back to congress which can pass it into law with a two thirds majority in each chamber.  Congress may also combine all or some appropriation bills into an omnibus reconciliation bill in Addition, the            president may request and the Congress may pass supplementary appropriation bills or emergency supplementary appropriations bill.

BUDGET PRINCIPLES:  The United States constitution [article 1, section 9, clause 7] states that ‘no money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by LAW and regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time’. Each year, the President of the US submits his budget request to Congress for the following fiscal year as required by the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. Current law [31 U.S.C and 1105[a]] REQUIRES THE President to submit a budget no earlier than the First Monday in January and not later than first Monday in February. Typically, Presidents submit budget on the first Monday in February. Wikipedia however recalled that the submission has been delayed, in some new President’s first year when the previous President belonged to a different party.

IMPORTANT POINTS TO NOTE: The Federal Budget is calculated largely on a cash basis. That is REVENUES AND outlays ARE RECOGNIZED WHEN TRANSACTIONS ARE MADE. Meaning that the full long term costs of entitlement programs such as Medicare, social security and federal portion of the MEDICAID are not reflected in the Federal Budget. By contrast, the same Wikipedia that we relied on for the brief research also let us know and appreciate the fact that many businesses and some other national governments have adopted forms of accrual accounting, which recognizes obligations and revenues when they are incurred. The cost of some federal credit and loan programs, according to provisions of the federal credit Reform Act of 1990 are calculated on a net present value basis.

FAST FORWARD TO THE US MAJOR RECEIPTS CATEGORIES: Whereby we are informed that in FISCAL YEAR 2012 THE Federal Government collected approximately $2.45 tril in tax revenue; up from $147 bill or 6% versus FISCAL YEAR 2011 revenues of $2.30 tril. Primary receipts categories included INCOME TAXES [$1, 132 bill or 47%]; social security/social insurance taxes [$845 bill or 33%] and CORPORATE TAXES [$242 bill or 10%]. Other Revenue types included excise, estate and gift taxes. REVENUE rose across all categories in FY2012 versus FY 2011]. FY 2012 revenue were 15.8% GDP versus 15.8% GDP in FY 2011. TAX REVENUE averaged approximately 18.3% of GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT over the 1970-2009 periods, generally ranging plus and minus 2% from that level. Tax revenues are significantly affected by the economy. RECESSIONS typically reduce government tax collections as economic activity slows. For example tax revenues declined from $2.5 trillion in 2008 to $2.1 trillion in 2009 and remained same in 2010.

An interesting dimension is the way the US government spends fund for research. The US federal budget has been criticized for spending on research and action on HARM REDUCTION out of proportion to magnitude of underlying threats. For example HEART DISEASES, CANCER, STROKES, RESPIRATORY DISEASES, DIABETES, AND ALZHELMERS diseases claimed about 1, 650,000 US lives in 2007, when the government spent about $9.6 billion RESEARCHING WAYS TO ALLEVIATE THOSE ILLNESSES. In contrast, terrorism had claimed about 300 lives per year an average over the previous decade, but $150 billion was spent to prevent terrorism, not including even more costly defense and war expenses. However, a major terrorist attack can cost substantial economic disruption.

(1) Huge expenses spent on salaries and allowances of GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS at the center in both the Executive and especially the Legislature must be pruned down and the payment system opened up so Nigerians can access correct information of the exact and actual amount spent in servicing the legislature which for now from available findings are prohibitive and outrageous. It is a crime against humanity that while the provisions made for research and provision of other essential services in the health and educational sectors including Federal Roads network dwindle by the day and mostly unaccounted for whereas legislators pay themselves huge allowances outside of what this REVENUE MOBILIZATION FISCAL AND ALLOCATION COMMISSION publishes to Nigerians will not augur well for an economy that desires to be stable and advanced.  This commission must fashion ways and means of independently verifying the actual allowances paid to themselves through their own financial mechanism at the National Assembly. 

(2) In the event that the constitution may not be realistically amended to accommodate the radical provisions for the creation of part time legislatures at both national and subnational levels, then payment of basic salaries to the National Assembly members must be based on MERIT; COMPETENCES; SKILLS AND ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS since CIVIL SERVANTS AT BOTH LEVELS ARE SO CATEGORIZED. Anything outside of this constitution methodology of payment is tantamount to DISCRIMINATION ON ACCOUNT OF STATUS which is strictly forbidden in chapter four of the constitution of the FRN [1999 as amended].

(3)   Strategies for generating better and enhanced incomes from other sources such as agriculture and solid minerals which abound in all parts of the country must be found even as we propose introduction of enforceable provisions in our statutes to engender practice of real fiscal federalism and resource control so the component parts own and administer their local resources and only pay royalties and taxes to the Federal Government and distribution of key federal budgetary releases should be done in such a way that states are encouraged to bid and compete to win federal funding for strategic facilities that will serve their people and develop their communities especially the mineral producing and agricultural rich communities. OVER RELIANCE ON CRUDE OIL REVENUE IS LAZY AND UNSUSTAINABLE on a longer term. THIS BODY SHOULD RECOMMEND CREATION OF SOCIAL SECURITY AND SOCIAL INSURANCES TAXES to be collected from business for the care of our AGED POPULATION AND THE VERY VULNERABLE MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY just as is done in other developed societies so we can reduce MASS POVERTY; MALNUTRITION AND HIGH DEATH RATES…this could also discourage GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS from amassing wealth from the public fund under their custody. WE SUPPORT THE NEW MODEL BEING WORKED OUT BY THIS REVENUE COMMISSION WHICH IS ANCHORED ON HOW TO BAKE BIGGER NATIONAL CAKE RATHER THAN THE PERENNIAL EMPHASIS WE PAY TO SHARING THE FAST DEPLETING NATIONAL CAKE. THIS COMMISSION SHOULD MONITOR CUSTOMS; IMMIGRATION AND OTHER REVENUE YIELDING AGENCIES SO THEY ARE COMPELLED TO MAKE RETURNS APPROPRIATELY TO THE FEDERAL TREASURY. MOST OF THESE AGENCIES CORNER SUBSTANTIAL PERCENTAGE OF THEIR REVENUE TO SERVICE FRIVOLITIES AND OTHER MUNDANE AND EXTRA-CONSTITUTIONAL EXPENSES and we believe that all the loose ends in generating revenues and taxes must be abridged and strict penalties recommended for indicted offenders in the competent courts of law.  This commission should continue to encourage the synergy being built between it and credible civil society organizations in the country even as we propose the setting up of a VIBRANT CIVIL SOCIETY/NGO’S/CBO’S DEPARTMENT to properly coordinate relations with the larger members of the civil society for the promotion of open government, transparency; accountability and zero-tolerance to corruption. We acknowledge that the current management under the able leadership of a technocrat of note Engineer Elias Mbam has brought about transformation in the practice of OPEN AND ACCOUNTABLE MANAGEMENT and it is our call that other agencies learn from this agency even as we urge that further and better radical transformational measures be introduced like intensive training and capacity building of the staff of this commission and recruitment of younger qualified Nigerians on the basis of merit to take this organization to the highest level of achievements of their mandate under this current management that is forward looking and visionary. The fuller presentation of HURIWA will be submitted within one week. I thank you for listening.

Comrade Emmanuel Nnadozie Onwubiko;
National Coordinator.


Wednesday, 18 September 2013



The Chairman, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Engr. Elias Mbam cordially invites Stakeholders including the States and Local Governments, Members of the Public, the Society, the Mass Media, the Academia, Women and youths Groups and all interested Parties to a Zonal Public Hearing on the review of the current Revenue Allocation Formula. The zonal public hearing being organized by the Commission in all the six geo-political zones in the country is to further give Nigerians the opportunity to express their views and submit memoranda on the exercise.

2.        It will be recalled that the first Zonal Public Hearing slated for the North Central Zone was held in Lafia, Nasarawa state between 11th and 12th September, 2013.

3.        Members of the public may also recall that the Commission had earlier placed advertisements in April, 2012, inviting memoranda from the Federal, State and Local Governments, Members of the Public, the Civil Society, the Mass Media, the Academia and all interested parties towards the preparation of the new revenue allocation formulae. This Zonal Public Hearing is therefore to provide another platform for Stakeholders to interact and share views on the review exercise.  

South East Zonal Public Hearing will come up in Enugu on 26th and 27th September 2013, Venue: Golden Royale Hotel, Enugu, Enugu State, Time 9am Daily.

HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) hereby call on all members of the Civil Society Community in the South East to attend this event and present the position of the people of SOUTH EAST. Lets do it now to avoid shouts of marginalization after the new revenue allocation formula is released without our input as a collective. 


Thursday, 12 September 2013


Pope Benedict XVI (born Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger) who recently left the papacy voluntarily over health – related challenges, is reputed as one of the most scholarly religious leaders of all times. Apart from his global rating as one of the finest theologians to have sat on the throne of Saint Peter as the leader of the nearly two billion Catholics globally, Pope Benedict, the German-born cleric was in the news in the year 2008 to have warned the World about the danger inherent in excessive consumerism and materialism.

Frustrated at the crass abandonment of the time-tested Christian values and the speedy decline of the beautiful civilization of religious values among the Western populace, Pope Benedict XVI warned the West against the acceptance and popularization of the vices of consumerism and materialism. 

In fact, Pope Benedict XVI called this evil tendency of excessive indulgence in consumption and materialism as the ‘false idols’ of consumerism.
In a story written for The Telegraph newspaper of Britain on 17th July 2008, the 81-year-old then leader of the Catholic Church said there were signs indicating "something is amiss" in modern society.
Referring to consumerism and the lure of "false idols", he said: "In our personal lives and in our communities, we encounter a hostility, something dangerous; a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are and distort the purpose for which we have been created."
He warned young pilgrims "do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer".
Speaking in English, the pope also addressed climate change, warning that the world's natural resources are being squandered in the pursuit of "insatiable" consumerism.
"Perhaps reluctantly, we come to acknowledge that there are scars which mark the surface of our earth - erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption," he said.
Clear five years after those prophetic affirmations were made by the German – born Pope, the political leader of the largest black nation in the World, President Goodluck Jonathan, also brought home the same message of the extent of rot that the ‘Idol of consumerism’ has done to the Nigerian agricultural sector in the sense that Nigerians have now become notorious consumers of foreign food products.

At the 7th Annual Banking and Finance conference in Abuja, on September 10th 2013, Jonathan lamented the high amount spent annually on the importation of food items that could be sourced locally.
“Our import of agricultural products as of last year, we spent N630 billion. We are now ranking number one importer of rice.  I don’t know the ranking but I think we can also compete well in importing fish, and also in wheat and sugar, and this is a big challenge”, he stated.

The President who was represented by Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yarima Lawal  Ngama, made references to the  3.3 billion dollar facility which Aliko Dangote signed with some banks saying, “I think there is no reason why the banks cannot come together to say that by 2015 Nigeria will not import a single grain of rice”.
“That is a big challenge. We have put the policy in place to discourage importation of rice but the main issue is production,” he added.

At the conference with theme, ‘Upholding Professionalism in the Financial Services Industry: Supporting the Economy,’ the minister challenged the bankers saying that many countries in the world are proud of agriculture and mining, but not in Nigeria.

He said the oil sector that Nigeria relies on has few exploration companies, few drilling companies controlled by Nigerians, “so the bulk of the money leaves Nigeria or will not even come to Nigeria, because even the bankers are foreign bankers. But when you look at agric and mining, the entire cash flow will revolve within the country. It will have a bigger multiplier effect on the economy than the oil sector.”

But to borrow from the saying of the legend- professor Chinua Achebe of the blessed memory, we must ask question regarding 'when the rain started to beat us' and that is to say that we have to reflect extensively on when Nigerians became so lazy that institutionally, the agricultural sector that used to be the dominant foreign revenue earner prior to the discovery of crude oil, has suddenly taken the back burner so much so that we have become a dependant nation for food produce.

To this conundrum we will hasten to hear from the immediate past minister of national planning Dr. Shamsudeen Usman who has carved a niche for himself as being frank and straight to the point.

In an interview carried on the website of Channels television of September 3rd, 2013, the former minister who also had a stint in the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] as Deputy Governor, recounted the evolution of Nigeria’s involvement in agricultural endeavours and implementing policies since the 1860’s.

Dr. Usman recalled Nigeria’s minimal involvement in the agricultural sector from 1860 - 1950, saying that only “ad-hoc attention was paid to agriculture” but noted that by the 1950’s and 60’s “we attempted the diversification, research and extension services even as he claimed that various steps were adopted to boost domestic production, especially cash crops and added that such a move was targeted at the export market.

According to the former minister of national planning, during the aforementioned period, Nigeria became the largest producer of rubber, groundnuts, palm oil and the second largest producer of Cocoa among others.

The Kano -born technocrat further affirmed that Nigeria within the period under  review, renewed its focus on livestock and fisheries just as he recalled that the first national development plan had a very strong bias/focus on agriculture.

In the 1970’s and 80’s, he claimed that petroleum revenue came in and with the lack of attention to agriculture “we started to decline in policy support and public funding for agriculture which consequently led to strong decline in domestic production and rising level of dependence on agricultural imports".

Shamsudeen Usman, who demonstrates deep understanding of the agricultural sector, also blamed the then marketing boards for deviating from their mandate but instead were converted to taxation instruments to finance development, which was a disincentive itself to agricultural development.

When read side by side with what can be referred to as the “Abuja agricultural lamentation” of President Jonathan, one is left with no option but to state that the Nigerian government indeed knows when agricultural decline started and judging by the benefit of hindsights, the current government working in partnership with the National Assembly must introduce legislative instruments to compel the commercial banks to lend money and credit facilities on liberal terms to genuine farmers so that mechanized farming can become the order of the day even as the needed infrastructure to make farming a profitable business in the country must be effectively implemented and built. Rural roads infrastructure and good storage facilities in the different parts of the country are imperative.

It is simply a flight of common sense that Nigeria with vast arable and/or cultivable lands and agricultural -friendly climate cannot feed her growing population but will now become a net dependent on foreign food imports.

For well over fifteen years, public debates have being raging on how to reform land ownership in Nigeria and the need to award certificates of ownership of lands to all land owners all across Nigeria so that the finance institutions can accept these instruments as collaterals to grant loans to genuine farmers who approach these finance institutions with efficient agricultural plans.

The only way to restore our national pride and make Nigeria self-sufficient in agriculture, is for the existing legal regime that governs land ownership to be fundamentally reformed and governments at all levels must create the enabling environment for farmers to obtain credit facilities from banks and other extension services from trained experts in the agricultural ministries across the country.

President Jonathan can exorcise the ghosts of the Idols of consumerism afflicting Nigerians by implementing workable measures to transform the agricultural sector to once more become vibrant so the nation can once more re-invent the famous “Great Groundnuts' Pyramids” that Kano is known for and the palm plantations in the South East including the Cocoa plantations in the South West so they can stage beautiful pragmatic return to Nigeria.

Let government take concrete action so our agricultural sector can be revived so we can stop this perennial national lamentations.                




Nigeria is the giant of Africa in name, no doubt. But in action, Nigeria is more or less like a lame duck. For well over five decades, crude oil and other rich mineral resources have been discovered and exploited in huge commercial quantities and the nation’s large population still battle with mass poverty and insecurity, no thanks to the rich presence in the polity of well endowed criminal elements who have taken the commanding lead in the various segments of Nigeria’s political spectrum thereby institutionalizing corruption and fiscal indiscipline.
In the last two decades, corruption has become the single largest contributor to Nigeria’s underdevelopment, infrastructure deficits and mass poverty even as successive governments over the years have failed to build viable regulatory and enforcement institutions to check the unprecedented spread of these social vices of corruption, bribery and outright theft of public resources by top government officials at all levels beginning from the federal down to the rural government settings.
One of the ways worked out by the previous government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to stem the high tide of corruption was the setting up of fiscal Responsibility Commission among few other anti-graft institutions. The formation of these anti-graft agencies derived inspiration basically from section 15[5] of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999[as amended] which frowns against corruption and abuse of power and consequently obliges all segments of the Nigerian society to eradicate corruption.
The fiscal Responsibility Commission was one of the logical products of the resolve of corporate Nigeria to strangulate corruption and fiscal indiscipline that constitute serious cog in the wheel of progress of Nigeria. Fiscal responsibility commission on paper has the vision of ensuring the enthronement of a regime of prudent, ethical and effective management of public monies and resources across all tiers of government.
The Fiscal responsibility commission’s mission on paper is to reform the management of Nigeria’s public finances through regular monitoring of government financial activities, uncompromising investigation and public reporting backed by a firm commitment to enforcement under the rule of law.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 saddled the body with the functions of among others; to monitor and enforce the provisions of the Act and by so doing, promote economic objectives contained in section 16 of the Nigerian Constitutions; and to disseminate such standard practices including international good practices that will result in greater efficiency in the allocation and management of public expenditure, revenue collection, debt control and transparency in Fiscal matters.
It was established by the fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 as an independent agency in the performance of its core functions.
But since 2007 when it became operational, it is a notorious fact that fiscal indiscipline and abuses of the provisions of the fiscal responsibility law have become widespread just as this agency saddled with these onerous tasks of tackling the challenges of corruption has conveniently gone to sleep and become a toothless bull dog. Total lack of transparency now characterizes the handling of public fund by all sections of public officials including bureaucrats in the various federal ministries.
Like few other dysfunctional anti-graft institutions, the fiscal responsibility commission has consistently become very irresponsible and has become only responsible in creating media noise without ever adopting effective measures to name, shame, prosecute and punish offenders. Coupled with the fact that the fiscal commission is run like a secret society devoid of transparent partnership of credible civil society groups, this agency of government which cost tax payers so much resources to maintain has become a dysfunctional contraption and the only way to save the country from tolerating a perfectly incompetent and unworkable contraption is to introduce radical reforms of the administration of this near-moribund fiscal responsibility commission.
By law, the fiscal Responsibility Commission ought to be composed of representatives of broad spectrum of schools of thought including the civil society groups engaged in causes relating to probity, transparency and governance, the selection process of the hierarchy of this agency has become opaque and muddled up in partisan politics.
A major imperfection of the fiscal responsibility body is the total disregard of the freedom of information Act of 2011 even when the constitution in section 15(5) provides that; “The state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.”
Recently, the fiscal responsibility commission denied the request under freedom of information Act of 2011 instituted by HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA to compel the boss of that agency to name and shame a top public office holder he accused in a newspaper interview (without disclosing identity) of large scale corruption.
The human rights group had requested that the chairman of the fiscal commission disclose the identity of a top federal government official that was indicted of cornering to himself huge government revenue in foreign denominations of a particular agency but the fiscal responsibility chairman denied the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria that germane request supported by section 1 of the freedom of information Act.
The chairman of the fiscal Responsibility Commission had in an interview published on August 6th 2013 by Daily Trust accused the unnamed government official of stealing millions of dollars belonging to the federal government.
The human rights group had innocuously demanded that the fiscal commission give Nigerians the name of the official since the money stolen rightly belonged to the people of Nigeria but as is the practice with the dysfunctional state of affairs of most federal government agencies which still operate the corruption – friendly principle of “say no evil even when you see evil happening”, it failed to respond to this patriotic request.
Hiding under the nebulous provision of the fiscal responsibility Act, the agency said it will not honour the freedom of information request because disclosing the name of the indicted official will harm the ongoing investigation.          
“I can confirm to you that the Fiscal Responsibility Commission will withhold the information you have requested because we consider that the exemptions under the following section of the F.O.I. Act, 2011 apply to your request. They are section 14(1)(e) and Section 12(1)(a),(i),(ii),(iii),(iv),(vi);(4)”
“We appreciate that this will be a considerable disappointment to you and would herein endeavour to explain to you why we reached the decision to refuse your request as outlined above, “the fiscal commission gladly announced to the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria.
Annoyingly, few days after refusing to name and shame a public official indicted by it for large scale fraud, the same fiscal responsibility commission was quoted in the Nigerian media (The Guardian, Friday September 6th 2013, pg. 1) as raising alarm over the recklessness of states in Nigeria to over borrow.
The fiscal responsibility commission also regretted that only five states out of the 36 states in Nigeria have embraced the Fiscal Responsibility Act in the last six years of its existence.
But I have this piece of news for this noisy commission and that is to tell the officials to desist from disturbing our peace with irrelevant noise since the hierarchy cannot provide the required leadership qualities for other federating units to embrace the law.
What do you expect from the body when the head is rotten?  “Physician, heal thyself,” [courtesy of the Holy Bible].
The officials of the Nigeria’s fiscal responsibility commission should please buy a copy of the well researched leadership book from the prestigious Harvard Business School titled; “Hand Book of leadership theory and practice.”         
In the section one of this book where the versatile authors analytically highlighted the all important issue of “the impact of leadership: performance and meaning,” whereby they stated rightly thus; “… Put simply, if leadership does not directly impact or significantly impact organizational performance, then leadership does not matter to organizational life.”
To tackle the widespread cases of fiscal indiscipline, corruption and inefficiency in the running of government business, agencies like the fiscal responsibility commission must say no to the business-as-usual tendency of covering up for corrupt officials and become vibrant anti-graft institutions.