“The world is changing and our nation is also changing, and any leader who has not noticed this trend already is not worth the trust of the people.
‘’Those who lead and those who intend to lead at the state level must come to terms with the fact that it is no longer business as usual. State governments must now think out ways to be financially viable in order to survive. The federal government will no longer be able to maintain state governments,’’ he said.
Nda-Isaiah postulated that, perhaps, it might take the states to suffer some hard times in order to come to terms with the new reality.
‘’Lagos State found out the hard way that it could earn much more than its monthly allocations from Abuja when the then President Olusegun Obasanjo illegally impounded the monthly allocations of its local governments for selfish reasons.
‘’That was when the governor then, Bola Tinubu, knew the real definition of IGR. Since then, the state has not looked back,’’ Nda-Isaiah said.
He further averred that states needed to develop their own proprietary methods of boosting their IGR, noting that Lagos chose corporate taxes because that was where its advantages lay.
‘’It could be abundant mineral resources for some, and yet for others, it could be massive land resources. Any state government that gives the impression that it is waiting for a constitution amendment before it can take advantage of the state’s mineral resources is simply dumb.
‘’State governments can apply to the federal government for mining leases in their states and simply become mineral-rich. The problem is that no state has been able to do this. Some states are succeeding with agriculture, especially rice cultivation using the CBN intervention funds. It is the same logic’’, Nda-Isaiah stated.
Citing the example of Botswana, he said that it was a small diamond-rich country in Southern Africa, just as several Nigerian states are rich in different solid minerals.
Botswana, he added, got rich because its leaders were smart enough to invite De Beers of South Africa, the world’s largest diamond mining company, into an investment arrangement with the government, and that led to the formation of a company called Debswana in a 50:50% shareholding arrangement.
‘’Botswana as a country did not put in a dime into the arrangement; its mines made up its equity of 50 per cent. Today, Botswana is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and has been so for decades, mainly on account of its partnership with De Beers.
‘’ This Botswana model will work perfectly for any serious state government in Nigeria.
‘’Another model is the Atlanta model. The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport in the United States is the world’s busiest airport. But how many people know that the airport was built and is owned by a local government, the City of Atlanta?
‘’A long time ago, the city of Atlanta was a poor local government in the state of Georgia in the United States. The leaders sought a way out of their poverty. They therefore decided to leverage their comparative advantage – their location on the map of the United States – and decided to make Atlanta the gateway into the US.
“They took loans, built what is now called Hartfield-Jackson Airport, named after the mayor that initiated the idea. Today, the airport is the busiest in the world, raking in billions of dollars, and, as a result, the City of Atlanta is one of the richest local governments in the world today,’’ the LEADERSHIP newspapers chairman said.
Meanwhile, Nda-Isaiah said that the personalities conferred with LEADERSHIP Awards deserve commendation due to the rigorous and thorough measures their nominations went through before they emerged.
According to him, the organisation has painstakingly maintained the integrity of the awards and ensured that only those who meet the rigorous selection criteria emerge winners.
He said it was the consistency of the credible process of selection of the LEADERSHIP Newspapers award winners since 2008 when it began that has made it the most prestigious and credible in the country
“The process of selecting this year’s winners was no less thorough. I take this opportunity therefore to congratulate all the winners in their different categories.
‘’Every year during this ceremony, we choose a very germane and contemporary theme. Our theme for this year, “Towards Financially Viable State Governments,” cannot be more fitting’’, Nda-Isaiah said.