The ongoing review of the Nigeria revenue allocation formula by the Revenue Allocation Mobilization and Fiscal Commission was the brain behind SiidAfrica Initiatives for Youth Development’s partnership with BudgIt Foundation BudgIT and American Corner, Lagos to educate, enlighten and engage youths from different higher institutions of learning, youth groups, associations and community youth leaders on making recommendations on how the ongoing review can be of benefits to the developments of Nigeria youths.
In his welcome remark, Mr. Olamilekan Lawal, the Team lead for SiidAfrica Initiatives made it known that the event became necessary because SiidAfrica Initiatives is committed to raising the consciousness of youths in Nigeria especially those at the grassroots; issues and happenings that may affect their development either positively or negatively. He stated that the ongoing review of the revenue allocation formula is one of such discussions that demand active participation by Nigeria youths. He made it known that Nigeria youths need to be more proactive than reactive to leadership and developmental processes in Nigeria as the energy and time spent arguing and fighting each other online and offline on national issues can be used to engage the government during the process of making critical decisions as they are major stakeholders in the development processes in Nigeria.
Miss Doom Ikyaator, on behalf of the director of America corner, also charged those present at the event to emulate SiidAfrica by being flagbearers for development in Nigeria. She stated that the America Corner is dedicated to provide the necessary support readily available to enable young Nigerians get more involved in leading discussions and organizing engaging events that will be useful to foster development in Nigeria.
Mr. Ibukun Agunbiade, the program coordinator gave a brief introduction about what SiidAfrica Initiatives represents and why it was established with a focus on youth development in Nigeria. He welcomed participants drawn from youth groups, associations, non-profit organizations, higher institutions, media and community leaders to the event. He went further to ask all participants to be open minded and have big expectations of the event as SiidAfrica, representing Nigerian youths, will be collating all discussions to submit recommendations from the event to the CSO coalition working with the revenue mobilization and fiscal commission, while feedback will be sent back to all participants on the process of the review.
Reading through the briefing of Engr. Elias Nwalem Mbam, Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to Civil Society Organizations, Mr. Olamilekan Lawal made it known that one of the major responsibilities of the Commission is to review the revenue allocation formula from time to time. He read that part 1, paragraph 32(b) of the third schedule to 1999 constitution (as amended), empowers the Commission to review from time to time, the revenue allocation formulae and principles in operation to ensure conformity with changing realities, provided that any formula which has been accepted by an Act of the National Assembly shall remain in force for a period of not less than five years from the date of commencement of the Act. Meanwhile, the last general review of the Revenue Allocation Formula was carried out in 1992, over twenty-eight years ago with 6 attempts made to review the formula in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2014. However all attempts have proven abortive. In view of the above, the Commission has commenced the review of the current Vertical Revenue sharing arrangement with a view to producing a fair, just, and equitable revenue sharing formula that will be acceptable to majority of Nigerians. The vertical formula deals with formula for the allocation to Federal, States and Local Governments. The current sharing formula is as follows: Federal Government (Including Special Funds) 52.68%, State Governments 26.72%, Local governments 20.60%. The Federal Government share of 52.68% is distributed as follows: (i) Federal Governments Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) 48.50%, (ii) Federal Capital Territory (FCT) 1.00%, (iii) Development of Natural Resources 1.68%, (iv) Ecological Fund 1.00%, (v) Stabilization Fund 0.50%.
The guest speaker Mr. Iniobong Usen, Research and Policy Advisory/Extractive with BudgIt Foundation spoke extensively on “Nigeria Revenue and Budget: What to Know”. In his presentation, which covered the processes of revenue generation by the Nigeria government overly dependent on oil, he took participants through comparative analysis of different budgetary levels in Nigeria stating the different challenges faced on execution of major capital-intensive budgets by the government. He explained basic terms that participants need to know to be able to engage the government, community leaders and the Revenue Commission on the ongoing allocation formula using their knowledge on the revenue generation and distribution.
During the feedback session of the event, participants of the hybrid meeting from across Nigeria were divided into groups to make recommendations to RMAFC on the ongoing review of the revenue allocation formula. Below are inputs submitted by participants:
Revenue allocation for Nigeria youths should be centered on empowerment by leveraging on creative and technology sectors which can help develop more innovations
Consideration should be given to establishing a Ministry for Youths, led by a youth with focus on youth development. This should replace the current sandwiched ministry of youth and sports at the Federal and state level, while at local government level youth should also be separated from Agric and Social services.
More funds should be appropriated to the Ministries of Agriculture, Education and Technology.
Considering the population of young people in Nigeria and the need to sustain the development process, it is imperative to make provisions for special funds which will be used to fund the efforts on youths’ development with attention on technology, education, sport, entertainment, employment and so on.
Proper youth integration and inclusion should be considered in the ongoing process by involving youths in the committee in charge of the review process as this will help to carry more youths along. Technological tools like the social media should also be used to drive this conversation so as to involve more youths in the process of the ongoing review.
Increase in local government allocation percentage of the FAAC generated to 35% while also granting them financial autonomy from the states.
Discussing the way forward and how to build a sustainable approach from the event, Mr. Olamilekan Lawal stated that SiidAfrica is working on establishing ‘Nigeria Youth Development Partners (NYDP)’ as the largest pool of youth- focused organizations and associations across Nigeria. This is to level up with the many coalitions, networks and groups established in the development space to attend to issues like gender, election, corruption, etc, while not publicly available to drive the process of youth development in Nigeria. He explained that this is necessary to carry along as many as possible youths’ organization, associations, and groups possible to engage and lead discussions in decision-making processes in Nigeria.
Mr. Olamilekan during his closing remark explained in details some of the self-initiated projects being executed by SiidAfrica Initiatives which includes ‘Young People Action Against Corruption’ (YPAAC) created to engage young people to actively participate in the process of reporting cases of corrupt practices in Nigeria.
Secondly, he explained the ‘Citizens Governance Performance Assessment’ (CGPA) which was created as a scorecard to assess performance of different government administrations in Nigeria.
Lastly, he mentioned that the event itself is an intervention through the project called ‘Africa Reformers Movement’ which was created to raise youths who can drive leadership and development processes starting from their community. He mentioned that the event is the 11th edition of the monthly dialogues hosted by SiidAfrica initiative.
Mr. Olamilekan appreciated the patience of the participants, BudgIt Foundation BudgIT and America Corner calling for more collaborations to help bring Nigeria to the desirable position suitable for all Nigeria youths