Awo basis revenue allocation

No Comments » December 28th, 2006 posted by // Categories: Chief Obafemi Awolowo Project


Speech delivered by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, as Federal Commissioner for Finance
to the Conference of Finance Commissioners of the Federation in Kano on 23rd
February, 1970

On behalf of all the members of this Conference, and the officials in
attendance, I wholeheartedly thank the Government of Kano State for playing host
to us, and for its hospitality. I have no doubt that we will all continue to
enjoy our stay here.

May I seize this opportunity to congratulate all of you personally for the
successful and satisfactory conclusion of the civil war. The measure of the
economic strength and resilience of our country is that it was able to cope with
two major problems at the same time armed rebellion, and the teething troubles
of nine infant States. If we could succeed so well under the trying
circumstances of the war, there is every reason for confidence that we will
succeed in the future in building a new and prosperous Nigeria, where mass
ignorance, preventible diseases, and poverty will be no more.

The agenda before us is short and non-controversial. But one perennial subject,
which is likely to influence the minds of many delegates in their approach to
the specific matters before us, is allocation of revenue among the Governments
of the Federation.

Ever since the creation of Regional Assemblies in 1947, the country has been in
continual but unsuccessful search for a generally acceptable and satisfactory
formula for revenue allocation. Inside eighteen years we had five full-scale
Revenue Allocation Commissions. And we have, for some
time now, been looking forward to yet another.

Our failure, in the past, to evolve a generally acceptable and permanent formula
or revenue allocation, has been blamed on all sorts of causes which, I dare say,
are completely mistaken. The reason for our failure, in my humble opinion, is
that we have never set before ourselves agreed national objectives which all of
us should pursue simultaneously, and to which alone any formula for revenue
allocation must be geared in order to assure for it general acceptance and a
fair degree of permanency. As long as each State has its own pet and distinct
objectives, which it is intent on pursuing, so long it will be difficult and
well-nigh impossible for us to fashion a revenue allocation formula to which all
of us could subscribe as satisfactory.

Before we embark, therefore, on the next exercise in revenue allocation, it is
essential that we should, first of all search for, discover, and declare for
ourselves, thoroughly basic national objectives which, if pursued in concert and
progressively attained, would bring prosperity and advancement to all parts of
Nigeria without exemption or discrimination, and keep our diverse peoples
harmoniously united.

There are naturally many economic, political, and social objectives which
Nigeria must pursue in order to justify its existence as a State. Some of these
can be identified as basic and fundamental, and are so relevant to the subject
of revenue allocation that, if faithfully pursued, will decidedly satisfy the
principles of Even Progress and Need which, over the years, we have been
hankering after and trying hard, with indifferent success or unsuccess to
quantify and materialise. It occurs to me that there are seven such objectives,
which I will now state, and briefly comment upon.

THE FIRST IS FULL EMPLOYMENT It is well known that, in the matter of
exploitation, we have, so far, done no more than touch the fringe of our natural
resources. They are still largely undiscovered, and inefficiently utilised. Our
capacity for phenomenal economic growth is tremendous and truly collossal. To
plan for less than full employment, therefore, is an admission on the part of
Nigerian leaders that they are unequaI to their admittedly difficult, but at the
same time inspiring and manageable assignment. Besides, whenever we talk of
merely reducing, and not stamping out unemployment, the questions which I always
ask myself are: Who are the unfortunate victims we are planning to keep perforce
on the unemployment market? And is it really just and fair that some of our
fellow-citizens should be left out in the cold to starve in the midst of plenty,
and to suffer poverty, destitution, and degradation which are the inevitable
concomitants of unemployment? In this connection, it is well to bear-in mind
that inadequate opportunity for employment among individual Nigerians will also
mean inadequate and unequal opportunity for most States to cater for the
economic welfare of those under their respective jurisdiction. And I believe
that we know know from experience that it is
inadequacy and inequality in employment opportunity which, more than anything
else, breeds inter-personal, inter-State, inter-ethnic, and inter-tribal envy
and bitterness.

There are only two problems that I can see concerning full employment in every
State, and throughout the Federation. They are the problems of planning and of
executive capacity. Both can and must be overcome, if we are to generate a sense
of economic security among our people in their entirety.

FOR ALL. So far as is known, man is the only dynamic and purposive agent on our
planet. All other things the lower animals, vegetations, and minerals

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