Forum of Commissioners for Finance of Nigeria has called on the Federal Government to ensure that all accruals from the removal of fuel subsidy go to the Federation Account.
Outgoing Chairman of the Forum, Mr David Olofu, who is the immediate past Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning, Benue State, made the call at a valedictory session for outgoing State Commissioners for Finance held in Abuja on Friday.
While commending President Bola Tinubu on the removal of subsidy, Olofu said, as finance experts, the Forum, like other Nigerians, had long yearned for it.
“We will like to sincerely commend the President for having that political will to do that, first day in office. That is what we had been yearning for. He came, his first day in office, he was able to achieve that which we have always asked for”, Olofu said.
On how the President should manage the funds from subsidy, Olofu said that the Constitution provided for all federation revenues to go into the federation account.
“Nobody has any authority whatsoever to deduct any amount from federation revenue. So, I will align myself with the position of the Constitution and recommend that all the accruals go into the federation account and let it be disbursed from the federation account”, he stressed.
He said, however, the Federal Government should come up with policies and programmes that could address the challenges Nigerians are currently facing as a result of increase in the pump price of fuel due to the removal of subsidy.
“I believe that the President has the capacity and knowledge to be able to do that decisively. He has already started it by proposing a wage increase for workers but that has to be done alongside with sub-nationals, because the sub-nationals have the bulk of civil servants in this country.
“I believe he is on track but, apart from wage increase, we also have to look at issues of infrastructure because we believe strongly that if we can wrap up infrastructure in this country, it will also help to improve the living standard and bring down the cost of living.”
Olofu appealed to Nigerians to be patient saying, the long term benefit of what has been done by the President far outweighs the short term pains people were going through.
For the incoming Chairman of the Forum, Wale Akinterinwa, he commended his predecessor, saying that Olofu did a very good work while leading the forum.
“He has actually elevated the forum to a much higher level than he met it. Be that as it may I will try to ensure that I continue from where he stopped.
“I will continue to sustain the good relationship he has created with all the revenue generating agencies such as the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation”, he said.
Akinterinwa who is the Commissioner of Finance Ondo State, reiterated that the removal of fuel subsidy was an overdue issue.
His words: “I commend the President for having the courage to immediately remove the fuel subsidy as he was sworn. Well, we are going to feel the pain we are feeling in the short run but in the long run, it is in the best interest of everybody.”
Mohammed Shehu, Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), on his part, commended the forum on efforts at taking the issue of federation account very seriously.
“We hope that as the years go by, the agitation on federal might or federal imposition on a lot of things would become a thing of the past. This is an opportunity for states revenue mobilisation and all other agencies to collaborate in the area of increasing internally generated revenue of states and diversification of the economy”, he said.
He also said that the removal of fuel subsidy was good for the economy.
Shehu urged states to ensure that the monies that were eventually going to the states should be put to use properly so that “we can run a very good federation and create opportunities for jobs for Nigerians.”
Special Guest of honour at the event, the Governor of Jigawa, Umar Namadi tasked the forum to build on the legacy of the outgoing chairman saying that he brought a lot of innovation and professionalism to the organisation.
He was a former Commissioner for Finance Jigawa and immediate past Deputy Governor of the state before becoming the present governor.
Shehu said that the removal of fuel subsidy was a bold step taken by the President.
The event was attended by the Accountant General of the Federation, Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein and representatives of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).