Ahmed calls for higher allocations to councils to enhance efficiency
Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, has canvassed either an expanded financial base for Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria, or their prompt restructuring towards making them more effective and efficient at meeting their enormous financial obligations.
Ahmed, in a chat with journalists at the weekend in Ilorin, the state capital, said the dwindling federal allocations to the 774 LGAs are too meagre for them coping with all the huge financial obligations to their workers, retirees and other institutions.
He spoke at the grand finale of a week long celebrations of the golden jubilee of the state created on May 27 1967.
According to him, “there is going to be an imminent collapse of Local Government administration in Nigeria if their monthly allocations from the Federal Government are not boosted.
The Governor, while empathising with some of the workers at the third tier of government, said the state lacked jurisdiction to re-jig the councils’ structure, as such functions are constitutionally the exclusive rights of the Federal Government and the National Assembly.
He argued, “We need to note that their dwindling allocations from the Federal Government can no longer meet their financial obligations. Unless something is done it will continue like this for a while. Again people should note that the state can’t reform the council’s administration. It has to be the Federal
Government through the National Assembly.”
Ahmed said while the realities remain that the dwindling federal allocations could no longer meet the financial obligations of the councils, politicians in some states especially Kwara, are passing the buck to the state governments, as if they are the ones owing the council workers salaries.
He added that aside Lagos, and probably, Kano states, which by their commercial status could generate more funds via Internal Generated Revenue; many other councils in Nigeria lacked the needed capacities to generate more finances through the IGR.
For him, “those who claim to be playing the role of opposition are making it feel as if we at the state level are the ones owing the councils’ workers. No, we do not owe the councils just as we are on monthly basis meeting the salaries needs of workers at the state’s level. We can do this because we have the ability to increase our IGR but many of the councils can’t easily do this. At there level, who will they be demanding taxes from – the poor local farmers or the peasant traders?”
The Governor, while extolling the virtues of all his 18 predecessors, believed that the state and its people have justified the reasons for its creation through massive provisions of infrastructure.
This is just as he noted that the increasing human population in Kwara could not be divorced from present dearth of social amenities in some parts of the state.
Although the government recently upgraded some traditional institutions in the state, Ahmed said the exercise might continue especially where such promotions are right and in accordance with existing laws. He praised the traditional rulers in the state for their meaningful and robust contributions to the growth of the state.
Describing Kwara as viable for investment due to its peaceful nature, he debunked claims of multiple taxations, noting that its revenue collection agency, Kwara State Internal Revenue Services (KWIRS), is now more efficient at collecting statutory taxes, against past experiences.