Dankwambo, Akeredolu carpet governors on use of allocations
The event was meant to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the establishment of Igbinedion University, Okada, Benin, Edo State, but it turned out to be an occasion for deep reflection on good governance, especially on how public funds at the state level, had been deployed for the good of the people. The summary was that substantial transparency and accountability had not been displayed in the use of these funds by a number of state executives in the country.
This was the opinion of speakers at the event, including President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State, his Ondo State colleague, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and the host governor, Godwin Obaseki, represented by his Deputy Philip Shuaib, that the people should not only be the main issue in governance, but in addition, judicious use of resources and allocations must be the watchword. Other dignitaries at the occasion included the institution’s Pro-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwole Akande, its Vice Chancellor, Prof. Eghosa Osaghae, Olugbo of Ugbo, Oba Fredrick Akinrutan, former Chief Of Staff to late Governor Agagu, Femi Agagu, Director General, Ondo State Civil Service Training Institute, Dr Deji Akinwalere, Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara represented by Chairman House Committee On Inter-Parliamentary Affairs, Samuel Ekong, among other dignitaries.
President Buhari, represented by the Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ohanire, noted that the federal government had been vindicated by its decision to allow private sector ownership of universities and other tertiary educational institutions going by the high quality of graduates they produce yearly, many of them according to him, are today occupying position of authority in the country. The president cited the case of Dr Dankwambo, an alumnus of Igbinedion University, who today is piloting the affairs of Gombe as the governor and the Ondo State Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, also an alumnus of the university.
Speaking in the same vein, Governor Akeredolu, said the university has justified their existence. In the view of the governor, private universities had helped in no small measure in assisting the country achieve the goal of education for all as they help to widen the education space. He said by this, a measure of relief had come the way of government, especially in sharing the scarce resources at its disposal. He challenged students at the university and nation-wide to be at the vanguard of the struggle to return the country to her former place of pride and further elevate her to become one of the leading countries in the world.
The founder and Chancellor of the university, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion in his short address, recalled with joy how he received the Licence 001 granting approval for the takeoff of the university from the then government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar on May 10, 1999. He thanked God for using him to pioneer the emergence of private universities in the country and saluted the courage of those that took after him. At the ceremony, the Ondo State Deputy Governor, Ajayi was honored with the institution’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, while the Gombe State Governor was honored with the institution’s Merit Award.
In his lecture titled, “The States In The Nigerian Federation,” Dankwambo, was of the view that federalism is the best form of government that is suitable for a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-linguistic and multi-religious society like Nigeria, as it is the case with other similar countries like America, India, Australia, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Switzerland etc. He observed that about 40 percent of countries in the world, including Nigeria operate the federal system of government, but lamented that in despite doing it for close to 60 years, there is still a high level of dis-unity and intolerance among the federating units.
“The choice of this topic is apt because in recent years it has become a topical issue that is shaking the foundations of Nigeria’s Federal system. One never thought that disagreements and the demand for fairness in a system that has been operated for over 60 years will generate such bad blood and extremism. Instead of searching for the solutions to our problems, people engage in false accusations to unnecessarily heat-up the polity,” he noted.
The Gombe State governor identified the desire by states to have more share from the national resources as one of the factors causing the present tension between the states and the central government. In his view, this demand is genuine and realistic in view of the fact that states are the closest to the people and also serve as the link with the councils, a position according to him put that more responsibilities on states and for which they needed more resources.
While supporting the agitation for more resources for states, he took a swipe at some of his colleagues who in his view were not judicious and transparent in deploying these funds, stressing that if funds would not be transparently utilised, then calls for increased allocation was unjustified.
His words, “states may rightly complain of inadequacy of revenues, but sometimes they are to blame for their plights. In 2003, June to be precise I expressed the view that the Federal Allocations are sufficient for serious governors. The challenge is how governors add value to what is received to impact on the lives of the people of the states. What matters is the sincerity of leadership and the will to judiciously use the resources available to the state. With budgetary discipline, reduction in corrupt practices, transparency and accountability, whatever a state government gets from federal allocation, the Governor can turn the fortunes of his state positively. This way, the socio-economic conditions of the citizens can significantly be improved.
“It appears, little or no attention is given to the issue of how effectively the different tiers of government have utilized their existing resources to perform their constitutional functions. Instead, the emphasis has been put only on reviewing the revenue allocation formula. It is pertinent to ask: can reformulation of resource allocation or revenue distribution achieve the objective of better service delivery to the majority of the Nigerian population? My answer is yes and no. I say yes if states should be allocated more revenue than both the federal and local governments, because state governments shoulder more responsibilities. But the states should be ready to apply the funds honestly, judiciously and prudently for developmental purpose. I say no if those in authority are not ready with the requisite will and capacity to be prudent no amount of revenue distribution reformation can solve the problems under such a negative condition.”