Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha A four-storey building under construction has collapsed at Owelle-Aja layout, Obosi, in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State. Although no life was lost, the building, which was under finishing touches, collapsed completely at the weekend, at about 7:00.a.m. Read also: Mother of five killed in building collapse in Aba…
Two months ago, the Federal Government, the 36 states and their local government areas had so far shared N1.4 trillion from the federation account, being revenue generated in the first quarter of 2017. The breakdown was contained in the monthly Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).
The key agencies that remit funds into the federation account are Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Customs Service.
The total revenue shared in January among the federal, states and local governments was N430.16 billion, meaning that the Federal Government took N168 billion; states, N114.28 billion, and local governments, N85.4 billion. The federation grossed N514 billion in February and the Federal Government’s share was N200.6 billion, states N128.4 billion, and local governments N96.52 billion.
For July, a total of N652 billion was shared among the federal, states and local governments, the highest so far in 2017.
Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, said the figure comprised both mineral and non-mineral revenue. According to him, gross revenue available from value added tax (VAT) was N81.6 billion, as against N79.9 billion distributed in May, indicating an increase of N1.6 billion.
He also said the excess crude account (ECA) stood at $2.303 billion, while the petroleum profit tax (PPT) was $68 million, adding that non-mineral revenue increased by N181.2 billion, from N157.5 billion in May, to N338.8 billion in June.
Giving the breakdown of how the money was distributed to the three tiers of government, Idris said the Federal Government got N286.5 billion, states, N178.6 billion, and local governments got N134.9 billion.
With all these millions and billions, let me start in this manner: how much is the current minimum wage? N600 per day, and I know several states that are not paying it, and over a score that are owing the meager N18,000 per month How a family of six survives on N600 a day is nothing short of the kind of miracle preached by our god of men.
Before I go far, I must say that despite all the criticism, advice and sycophancy around, our democracy is growing. The only point of debate or departure is which direction it is growing in. It remains to be seen if it is pro-, de-, retro-gressive or stagnant.
We say the problem is corruption, yet it seems that, continually, it remains all talks and glitz. Many Nigerians and I continue to watch as the nation is milked in billions and trillions, while the populace cries for a few hundreds and thousands that would take them to the next bus stop.
The trend has continued to be that of a lone mansion in the middle of a village with no road, no water, no hospital and the villagers tell you: “Don’t you know the owner, he/she is in Abuja, or he/she is ex-that or present-this?”
After several decades and billions, we are still looking for roadmaps, where there are no geographical maps, setting agendas with no intent, transforming things that have not been formed, and changing things while they remain the same.
Our leaders continue in their practice of reeling out figures that do little or nothing in improving lives. The Nigerian stock market has gained over N1.2 trillion since May as the economy exits recession—voodoo economics.
What does this mean to the newspaper vendor that only needs N5,000 for tuition in a local ‘I better pass my neighbour’ kindergarten school that government has failed to provide?
All the noise about pre- and post-paid meters does no good and remains meaningless to the barber’s shop that only wants steady supply of electricity to stay in business.
How many measures of rice does the economic voodoo translate to, or how many litres of cooking oil would that buy? The billions and trillions cannot put food on the table. Despite all this sharing, the ordinary man knows at every sharing he is farther away from living a desirable life.
Salaries are being owed. A simple track of our budgetary process and the sharing bazaar tell you the story. There are no drugs in hospitals, roads are in terrible shape, schools with dilapidated structures. Our schools do not work, yet private schools are working, both quacks and standard ones; our health system is on the verge, but a look at how many health visas are issued Nigerian politicians tells you the story and you need not ask where the trillions are going.
What exactly are the priorities of this once great nation? I know a road that has become a death trap in the eastern part of the nation. That road has been budgeted for in seven layers for four years running, at the federal, senatorial, representative, state, state assembly, local government and ward levels, and the road is still there, a pathway to death for the populace and a source of income for politicians and their lackeys.
Nigerians are tied by all sorts of financial handicaps. The social security of Nigerians is on its knee. Even as we battle a dead infrastructural system, we are told of a need to unlock capital for investmen. Who locked the capital in the first place?
A minister tells Nigerians that we are sitting on N2 trillion of pensioners funds that you need a key to unlock, while pensioners are dropping dead. Anyway, considering our voodoo economics of sharing, maybe it’s not bad that it is still under lock until it is ready to be stolen or wasted, in the same manner we watched the Goodluck Jonathan government unlock one a few years back and we are watching governors throw caution to the wind with the Paris piggy bank money.
Ours is a nation of two extremes. At the state level, we watch all the drama and voodoo of private-public partnership, a conduit pipe for an already leaking system, and the people continue to suffer. At the federal level, we see all kinds of ponzi schemes by the ruling party and inconsistency by the opposition. And a few thousand Nigerians make millions and billions of naira, and we beg them to give us a few thousand naira in the land of billions and trillions.
In a land of voodoo economics, do we need a soothsayer to be told that our ancestors are after us? Only time will tell.
• Dr. Dickson wrote in via [email protected]