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Senate, governors on collision course over Federation Account, SWF

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Lawan. Photo: TWITTER/DRAHMADLWAN/TOPEBROWN

There are indications that the move by the Senate to amend the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and related laws to make the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) a first-line charge beneficiary of the Federation Account might incur the wrath of state governors.

The lawmakers, by the fresh voyage, are moving to make the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) get 20 per cent of revenues accruing to the Federation Account on a monthly basis.

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The amendment bill, sponsored by Senator Bassey Albert Akpan (PDP: Akwa Ibom), seeks to amend Section 162 of the constitution to achieve the objective.

In the gazetted copy, sourced by The Guardian, the SWF is also being made to share directly from the Federation Account in the same manner as the federal, state, and local governments.

The Fund is to draw monthly allocations via the new Section 162 (3) if approved by the House of Representatives and at least 24 of the 36 State Houses of Assembly.

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Under the prevailing revenue sharing formula, the Federal Government takes 52.68 per cent, the states get 26.72 per cent while the councils go home with 20.60 per cent besides the 13 per cent derivation that goes to oil-producing states.

This arrangement would immediately change once the upper legislative chamber tinkers with the Revenue (Federation Account).

It was learned that following a directive by the Senate that its committee in charge of constitution review must conclude work on the bill and 74 others for final approval and passage after the Easter break, many state governors have prodded their legislatures against the amendment.

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All constitution amendment bills ultimately come to nothing if they are not endorsed by at least two-thirds of the 36 Houses of Assembly.

The state chief executives had strongly opposed the SWF when it was established by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

They had called on the Federal Government to suspend its operation until all grey issues were resolved because, according to them, “it is unconstitutional.”

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But as the current legislative exercise gathers steam, some governors, it was gathered, have sent words to the leadership of the Red Chamber on the futility of the whole work.

The governors have in recent times complained of dwindling revenues and how the situation has been affecting development and welfare projects as well as governance negatively.

Not too long ago, the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, appealed for financial assistance on behalf of the group from President Muhammadu Buhari.

Efforts to reach the Director-General of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Asishana Okauru, for comments were futile, as he neither took his calls nor responded to the texts sent to his mobile phone.

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