By Collins Opurozor
The shape which the third tier government in Nigeria today wears was fashioned by the 1976 reforms which among other things provided for funding of local government from three main sources. First is statutory allocation from the Federation Account. Second is 10% proportion of the monthly state government internally generated revenues (IGR). Third is the IGR of the local government.
The introduction of the Joint Allocation and Account Committee (JAAC) in 1979 was primarily to improve the parlous financial condition of the local councils as well as to have statutory provisions that would ensure that state governments do not interfere with the allocations to the local councils.
The Act establishing the State-Local Government Joint Account also provides for the modalities of its operations to ensure financial discipline and the fact that no local government is politically marginalized in favour of other local governments by the state government as the supervisory body. This includes both the sharing formula amongst the local governments in the state as well as the statutory deductions that should be made from the Joint Account. The Act states that, “Any amount which shall be set out by the Committee at any time for distribution from the amount standing to the credit of Local Government Councils in the Joint Account shall be distributed among the local government councils by the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) in the following manner:
- 40% on the basis of equality.
- 25% on the basis of population.
- 20% on the basis of primary school enrollment.
- 10% on the basis of internally generated revenue.
- 5% on the basis of landmass.
The only deductions provided for by the Law are deductions provided for under the Joint Account Law tagged “First-Line-Charges” which include the following:
• Local Government Education Authority gross salary
• Local Government Education Authority Overhead
• Total Education Fund payable
• Pension Fund allowance
• Training fund
• Traditional rulers.
Between January and April 2020, there has not been anything like JAAC meeting in Imo State. That joint account is not a savings account. Monies in it are meant for monthly disbursements. No local government area in Imo has gotten its share since January. If you add 10% of the N1.2 billion which was declared as IGR by the past administration to the monthly accruals to JAAC from the Federation Account for the period under review, the Imo State Government owes the people explanations as the whereabouts of well over N10 billion.
There is a lame excuse that the Government in Imo is fighting Covid-19, and so everything else should be swept under the carpet. But this is not just lame; it is also provocative. Which other time is better to energize the local government system in order to intervene and deliver palliatives to the people if not now that this deadly virus is keeping economic activities comatose?
Apart from printing a banner and placing same in front of an old building along Orlu Road which is designated as isolation center, what else has this government done to fight coronavirus? Is lockdown also an achievement?
With tears in my eyes, I ask our Governor to tell us where our local government allocations are hidden. The vast majority of our people at the grassroots are hungry and need their money as urgently as possible.