Recently the FAAC distributed the Federal allocation, how will you describe the fund that your state received considering the fluctuation in the revenue flow?
The allocation is low and even though we know the problem also started with the economy of Nigeria as it is now, we can conveniently say that the economy has slide into recession. So what we received from the federal allocation is not enough for us to even pay our salaries but that is what has come to the state and we are applying it judiciously.
In a simple term, how much did Adamawa as a state received?
We received slightly above two billion naira (2 000 000 000) and our wage bill is very high. We have a lot of commitments, we have a lot of campaign promises and we have salaries to pay. Like I said it’s not sufficiently enough to pay salaries and to run government.
The Buhari’s administration offered a kind of conditional support facility for states to access fund. Did Adamawa meet that condition?
Yes we have met the conditions for the budget support facility. We have met these conditions they have given us and I think the process of accessing the fund is on-going at the federal level and when approved it will go a long way to give a soft landing ground for the budget of the respective state to work at the very minimal rate. So depending on the debt profile or status of a state, if you are highly indebted it may add little or no value at all but if you are a careful State that you are very conscious of your debt, it will go a long way in supporting the State to move forward.
To what extent has your State gone to reform the State internally generated revenue system to supplement the allocation you get from FAAC?
This is the area that I and my team are focusing greatly. We are not taking it lightly; we have given ourselves targets that in the next one year (God’s willing), Adamawa State should be able to do without Federation allocation. What we are planning is to ensure that whatever comes to the state from federation allocation will be dedicated entirely to project for developing the state. What we are doing now is that we have engaged a renowned consultant; highly experienced consultants that will assist the state drive the internally generated revenue to acceptable level. Of course we have recorded some significant improvements from what we met. Before we came in, the IGR was between hundred to one hundred and fifty million naira (N100, 000,000 to 150, 000 000). But now we able to generate two hundred and fifty million and sometime four hundred million monthly, this is a significant improvement from what it used to be in the past but we are far from where we are supposed to be as a State. So we believe we are on the right path to making Adamawa state financially viable. Adamawa State has a population of about four million people; if you have four million people you should be able to generate revenue of a minimum of 2.5 billion to 3 billion in a month.
That is if you carefully analyze and expand your tax net deep down to the internal sector. People are not paying tax because they are not used to paying tax. Before now, whatever tax you see comes from government and things are changing. Every state must look inwards and see what the potentialities in the State are, exploit these potentials and should be able to be on their own. We are focusing on Solid minerals; we are focusing on a lot of Public Private Partnership (PPP). We are focusing on Agriculture and we are also focusing on Commerce and Industry. We are focusing generally on the informal sector in the state, too. These are the areas we are looking at. Recently we have expanded our tax net by 20,000 people. Even if it is 5 or 10 that they are paying, it’s a lot of money and I want to believe that people will want to pay tax but the problem is in the area of trust. For example, there is this pessimism that if I pay tax, that I’m giving my hard earned money to private pockets directly, and this is not it. If people are seeing what their tax money is utilized for, everyone will even queue to pay these taxes because it is cheaper for me to pay tax of even 5,000 in a month and access free medical facility, take my children to school, free meal for school children and quality education, potable drinking water, and have good access road by paying my tax, why won’t I?
if I don’t pay this money, I will pay high medical bill, high water bill, high school fees and at the end of the day it will make nonsense of whatever income I was able to make. So in my State, I can conveniently tell you that my Governor is the best Governor in Nigeria and everybody knows especially you the press. Within the first year of his administration he was able to construct forty eight roads fully completed and ready for commissioning, with street light completely and right now, we have about eighteen roads construction going on in Mubi. My Governor is the best Governor in Nigeria. If we implement all our tax policies Adamawa State will be a State to watch. Like I said the next one year I would not come to Abuja to beg for money. Nigeria has been a mono-economy for a very long time with due respect to our leaders, I think they have been lazy. In the past, if you have an economy or an economic outflow that constitute about 90% of your income, what you need to do is to diversify immediately. In leadership you need to fight corruption, you need to fix security and you need to drive the economy most importantly. I think the economy is very slow. Mr President needs to develop and integrate a robust economic management team that will involve people from the local Government, from State Government and federal Government
Are all these roads mentioned verifiable?
Yes, they are on ground. Please come to Adamawa and see. You cannot tell lies on projects especially if it is roads because they are tangible things that you can see, touch and feel. They are not consumables. It is very unfortunate that it is in 2016 that we are having a Governor that will be constructing gutters and roads. We are supposed to be constructing fly-over, international Airport and other projects that will attract investors to the state. Nonetheless, it is better late than never, we have to start from somewhere, past administrations did not deem it right to help the masses because road construction is a project that will touch the lives of everybody both you a party member, indigene and even non-indigene because everyone plies the road. Therefore, this is a very critical infrastructure that must be on ground to be able to attract investors that we want in the State. So we are on it now. We have flagged off Shaileen road, we are going to Numan, we are going to Ganye and not only that, we are looking at the Hospitals, the Schools, they will all come on board. So by the time people see that we are doing this things, and money are being expended on a value added assets that will assist their lives, they will be willing to pay tax. If we implement all our tax policies Adamawa State will be a State to watch. Like I said the next one year, I have given the consultants, and I have given my team a target I don’t want to come to Abuja to beg for money.
Looking at the revenue that was shared for June and July, there have been some improvements. Has it impacted on your state?
We have a lot of challenges. Nigeria has been a mono-economy for a very long time with due respect to our leaders, I think they have been lazy. In the past, if you have an economy or an economic outflow that constitute about 90% of your income, what you need to do is to diversify immediately and have that income inflow to be a supplementing income. But they were all resting within their comfort zone. They were resting on their oars, you know, getting money anyhow. Then what happens if oil dries up? This oil can dry up. Is it when it dries up that we will start answering our fathers’ names? No by the time we were having excess money on oil that is the time we were supposed to diversify and invest in critical sector that will be able to bring in money so that whenever the oil money is going down as it is right now, we get from other source and augment. No savings was made when this money was coming in. I think it was during General Olusegun Obasanjo days that he insisted that there should be a savings on this Excess Crude Account and the governor at that time even sued the federal government that these monies should not be saved. They should be given to them to share and do execute project which is bad. You cannot be getting excess money and spend all. What if the money stop coming and you don’t have a dime to spend how would you do? There is a problem. But you spend 10 when your income is 50 or if your income is 50 and you save the balance for the raining days, we have nowhere to run to, the rain is messing us up and everybody is catching flu. That is the direct implication of the economy in the past. What the current administration should do is to fix the problem.
You think they have the capacity?
Of course, the presidency have more than enough capacity to fix the Nigerian economy back on track, we thank God for the President Muhammadu buhari. He has been able to fix the security problem, there will not be development, and there will not be IGR. Everybody will be running for his or her live. You abandon your family, you abandon your party, you abandon your business and that has direct impact on the economy. Especially the GDP will collapse