Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has advised state governors to look inwards for ways to generate internal revenue to enable them pay the new minimum wage.
Osinbajo also tasked the governors to collaborate with the federal government and design more creative ways of decisively addressing the country’s security challenges.
This is coming as the Governor of Zamfara State and Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, warned that Nigeria stands the risk of running into a serious economic crisis, if nothing is done to diversify its economy before 2026.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja at the opening ceremony of a three-day induction of new and returning governors of the federation, which was organised by NGF, Osinbajo said states should not continue to expect that the federal government can do more interventions because that may not necessarily offer much hope.
He said the federal government has intervened in the financial crisis affecting states in the last three years through loans, bailouts and Paris Club refunds to the tune of well over N1.1trillion.
“We have in the past three years, intervened through loans, bailouts and Paris Club refunds to the tune of well over N1.1trillion. This represents the highest amount of federal government’s extra statutory allocations and interventions to states in Nigeria’s history and we are proud to say that there were no discriminations along party lines,” he said.
Speaking on the complaint by some state governors over the difficulty in meeting the demands of the N30,000 minimum wage, Osinbajo said the states must devise a means of improving on their internally generated revenue (IGR) in order to cope.
According to Osinbajo, states must strive in the next few years to earn more in internally generated revenue.
He said states must leverage their most advantageous agricultural produce, and working with the federal government’s initiatives in agricultural credit and the recently launched Green Imperative, with the Brazilian Government, adding that it is possible for states to generate significant revenues from agriculture.
He said: “We must more effectively collect Value Added Tax and increase our agricultural output, work with the federal government to make broadband infrastructure available all over the country, so our young people anywhere in the country can do jobs from anywhere in the world, from their villages in any corner of Nigeria.”
Osinbajo, however, cautioned states against going on the over-drive in the effort to raise revenue from taxation.
“If a state is charging for right-of-way from communications companies and is hindering the laying of cables and other broadband infrastructure as an IGR measure, permit me to say that that will be penny wise and pound foolish. To tap into the millions of jobs in technology and other services that a country like India, for example, has tapped into, requires broadband infrastructure across the country.”
On the federal government’s new policy outlook, Osinbajo said the president has made it clear that government will be focusing attention on human capital development and physical infrastructure.
He said: “We will be working with the states on education, especially the education of girls, and we have begun some deep diving in this respect at the National Economic Council.
“We are doing the same with healthcare. We have already started to implement the one per cent of CRF in the Health Act and that was implemented in the 2018 budget and we intend to do so with the 2019 budget.”