YBTC News-When President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the current board of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) on Thursday, June 27, 2019, he charged the members to be fair and just to all tiers of government.
He urged the 31-man board with Chief Elias Mbam as Chairman, not to compromise the commission’s constitutional mandate for whatever reason.
Mbam’s first tenure of five years ended in November 2015, and was re-appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016, but his name was not immediately sent to the Senate for confirmation.
The name of Mbam and other members of the commission were eventually sent to the Senate that confirmed them.
Buhari also enjoined the commission to work hard towards meeting the Federal Government’s target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
He said: “The mandate of the commission is very wide and has an important role for our country’s economy. The commission must be fair and just to the three tiers and arms of government without compromising its core mandate.
“In my speech on June 12 Democracy Day, I informed Nigerians that this administration has laid the foundation for transforming our country and liberating our people from the shackles of poverty by putting policies and measures to integrate our rural economies to the national economic grid.
“Our measure is to extend credit facilities currently available, to be able to encourage and support domestic production of basic goods and reduce our reliance on imported goods.
“I set a target for our country to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. This commitment is to further challenge RMAFC to rise to its constitutional responsibilities and mandate.’’
The president also charged the members of the commission to concentrate more on expanding the other sources of revenue like non-oil sources, including solid minerals.
He urged them to use all legal ways and means to strengthen the commission’s monitoring mechanism and block leakages of revenue from the federation account.
He said that they should also ensure that all relevant laws and regulations on revenue collections and remittances were fully complied with and appropriate sanctions meted to defaulters.
He called on the National Assembly to put in place “relevant enabling laws that shall guarantee the commission the legal ability to ensure that defaulters of revenue laws are appropriately sanctioned.’’
Mbam, who spoke to State House correspondents at the end of the swearing-in, said the commission would work towards increasing the revenue shared by federal, state and local governments.
“We need to increase the sources of revenue to the federation account; in other words, we will concentrate more efforts on how to increase the size of the cake for allocation to the three tiers of government, instead of struggling to share a shrinking cake.
“So, the commission will key into the diversification programme of the Federal Government with a view to finding other sources of revenue that will increase resources to the federation account.
“One of our responsibilities is to review the revenue allocation formula and I am saying that we will deliver on our mandate.
“The issue is not just to add and subtract; it derives through a process; whatever you get is derived through a process; more responsibilities, more money,’’ Mbam said.
At a maiden meeting with the commissioners, Mbam reiterated his resolve to increase the size of the “national cake’’ as well as come out with new revenue sharing formula.
Mbam said that his focus during his second tenure would be to ensure the diversification of the economy as well as ensure that all sectors contribute more to the growth of the nation’s economy.
“And that is why we are going to be more concerned with increasing the size of the different sources of revenue rather than fight and dissipate energy over sharing of revenue that is getting smaller,’’ he said.
Mbam said that the nation’s revenue sharing formula, which determines how much of the revenue generated goes to the federal, state and local governments, would be revisited.
He recalled that in 2015, the commission conducted a nationwide consultation with key stakeholders and came up with a new revenue sharing formula which was presented to the then President, Goodluck Jonathan.
“However, nothing has been heard of it. The then president did not present it to the National Assembly to be passed into law,’’ he said.
Mbam said that the issue would be revisited and the new commissioners would be further briefed so they could advise on the best possible way forward.
In order to generate correct data for an acceptable new revenue sharing formula, the current RMAFC sent its commissioners to states of the federation for sensitisation of critical stakeholders.
At a sensitisation programme in Zamfara, RMAFC Commissioner, Alhaji Ibrahim Bako, said the orientation was designed to expose revenue officials on the process of data collection and dissemination for the forthcoming review of the revenue allocation formula.
Bako said the commission had constituted six committees to facilitate the smooth conduct of the exercise in the six geo-political zones of the country.
He said that his committee had so far visited Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states in the North-West.
Bako listed the reasons responsible for low revenue base of the state to include non-inclusion of natural resources for 13 per cent derivation and high profile tax defaulters among others.
Alhai Yahaya Chado, Commissioner for Local Government and Community Development, who spoke, commended the commission for organising the event.
He said that it would avail the participants the opportunity to identify the reasons responsible for the low internally generated revenue and how to improve.
In Bauchi State, Dr Chris Akomas, the RMAFC Commissioner who spoke, reiterated that the officials were on advocacy visit.
He said the commission had deployed technology to enhance the integrity and credibility of database systems and to ensure transparency and accountability in revenue mobilisation and allocation.
“Your excellency, our visit to you today is part of our sensitisation campaign and advocacy to seek for continued support with your administration on the advancement and strengthening of IGR.
“In 2018, a similar exercise was conducted without achieving the desired results. We therefore, look forward to your support to work together to ensure the success of this exercise.”
The Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, who also spoke, promised to work with the commission to enhance the integrity of the state’s database.
He said that accurate data and statistics were key in ensuring execution of development projects.
“Our problem in this country is lack of data, you cannot have any meaningful development without good data and statistics. I see this advocacy as the beginning of a new Nigeria,” the governor said.
In the same vein, RMAFC team, led by Mohammed Usman that visited Rivers, restated that they were on advocacy and sensitisation tour to the state.
Usaman said that the 2018 verification exercise was characterised by fraud because some data supplied by some states were very spurious.
According to him, such over inflated figures were to make those states get money that they do not deserve and deny others.
Usman said the visit would afford them the opportunity to sensitise the relevant financial officers in the state on the importance of providing correct data to the commission.
Gov. Nyesom Wike who received the team, commended the commission for taking the bold step to correct fraudulent practices adopted by some states in order to gain financial advantage.
He assured the RMAFC team that the state would continue to interface with the commission to make their work easy.
Wike expressed his determination to deploy all resources received for the development of the state and also advocated for a new revenue sharing formula that would make the states get more money for development.
He told the RMAFC team that the states bear more development burden and would require more money to cater to the needs of the people.
In all the states visited by the RMAFC teams, the message was the same. It will also be recalled that RMAFC in 2015, during Mbam’s first tenure embarked on consultation, before producing the new revenue sharing formula, presented to the then president.
Those consulted were former Heads of State (President Buhari inclusive) former Senate Presidents and Speakers, House of Representatives, Chief Justices of the Federation, as well as notable elder statesmen.
With the adoption of all embracing strategies, stakeholders hope that the RMAFC will produce an acceptable revenue sharing formula. (NANFeatures)
**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)