Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed
By Yemi Adebowale
Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed has joined the league of state governors advocating for a quick review of the current revenue sharing formula that gives a larger percentage to the federal government.
The governor who spoke exclusively to THISDAY on Wednesday in Ilorin, said it had become pertinent to review the sharing formula in favour of states in order to reduce the mounting financial pressure on them.
Though, the governor did not specify any particular sharing formula, he said many states, Kwara inclusive, had been using state money to repair federal roads and supporting other federal institutions, and as such, needed more money to be able to deliver on their promises to their people.
Said the governor: "We have been talking about review of certain exclusive areas of government and also in the ratio of sharing the federal revenue. These are some of things that are informing our decision to ask the federal government to review its policy in exclusivity in certain areas and also to review the formula in sharing the allocation because, obviously, if we are still using the allocation we are collecting today to support areas that are outside our jurisdiction in terms of exclusivity, then you can see there is no way we will not be under pressure.
"The state governors are putting pressure for restructuring in these lines that will see that exclusivity are reviewed and they are supported with the commensurate allocations and if possible, these are allowed to be carried on by states to improve on efficiency and effectiveness."
Ahmed also debunked allegations that he inherited huge debts from his predecessor: "I am happy to let you know that Kwara State did not experience the problem of not being able to start due to inherited problem of debt. There was no problem that was inherited. What we inherited were platforms for future growth and development. Every funding that had gone into funding in Kwara State was well sourced and they were well timed to support the level of programmes put in place.
"Don’t forget I told you that as commissioner for finance, I was involved in advising on what level of funding we should get to support what programme and what policy were to be outlined and articulated so we didn’t get to have that problem. You see, you can’t say there were no borrowings. It is not possible for anybody to develop under a recurrently in-flowing fund without borrowing. It is not possible because the current inflow cannot support the current needs. If you want long term needs, you have to borrow and you will recollect that we went to the capital market.
"I was the one that championed taking the state to the capital market and I am happy to let you know that some of the funds that were accessed at the capital market have led to a lot of developmental projects in the state today, so for us, borrowing is a level of health because the first consideration in lending money to anybody is the capacity to successfully pay back. So if you are not seen as having the capacity to successfully pay back you will not be lent any money."
On how far he had gone in achieving his set objectives, he said: "We have been able to go very far. Don’t forget that we came in from an administration that we were part and parcel of and we were able to see policy formulation and implementation at that time; so for us, coming in was just a continuation of what we had been doing in the past because we were vantagely positioned to have played critical roles in the formulation and implementation at that time.
"By 2011, when I came in here as the governor, it was very clear where we wanted to go. We started with an end in mind. We clearly spelt out policies that affected our people, having garnered information from them during the electioneering campaigns and these policies were largely premised on infrastructure support, human capital development and economic growth. I am happy to let you know that based on time lines we articulated with our various policies; we are very much on course. We drew up a four-year policy programme for the state, putting into cognisance revenues that are accruable.
"Yes, we know that revenues are changing as we are moving on, but at the same time, what we require to do is to adjust here and there to be able to carry on the programmes as highlighted in our medium term development strategy framework and I am happy to let you know that we are completely on course. At the end of the day, the picture we had in mind will be the picture we will be seeing. I think we would have seen a developed Kwara from where we took it. Our people are quite clear in understanding of what we intend to do."