Last year, states’ internally generated revenues (IGRs) slipped, indicating an increasing dependence on Abuja to fund state governments’ expenditures, much of which is recurrent.

Two per cent dip in revenue mobilisation, which was what the fall was when weighed against the general business environment, is fair and understandable. But the devil, as it were, is not in the insignificant drop. The uneven spread of the percentage loss among the states validates, once again, the viability concern raised by advocates of fiscal federalism in the past years.

According to the internal revenue data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), on Friday, 18 states reported a decline of an average of 19 per cent in their last year’s IGRs. Benue emerged as the worst-performing state in the year with its income crumbling by as much as 41 per cent while Sokoto’s slipped by 37.9 per cent. Kwara, Jigawa and Ogun states had their internal revenue earnings cut by 36 per cent, 33 per cent and 28.4 per cent, respectively, to join Benue and Sokoto at the bottom of the table.

Abia, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Yobe, Bayelsa, Adamawa, Rivers, Ondo, Edo, Niger, Kano, Enugu and Cross River also recorded negative growth, which may have weakened their fiscal position and worsened their economic sustainability. Overall, states’ IGRs slipped to N1.3 Trillion as against N1.33 Trillion realised the previous year. That puts the average figure generated per state in the entire year at N35.1 Billion or N2.9 Billion per month.

Interestingly too, of the total revenue, N1.09 Trillion or 83 per cent, came from taxes, while revenue drive efforts of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) contributed a meagre 218 billion to the pool. On average, the one-year non-tax revenue of a state was N5.9 Billion. Lagos alone contributed almost a quarter of the total non-tax income (N51.8 billion) while Ogun earned N19.2 Billion. If one takes out the earnings of Lagos, and Rivers, FCT and Delta out, IGRs balloon by a paltry sum. Lagos alone contributed almost one-third to the entire IGRs, and that has been the trend for as far as anyone can recall. Its share of the IGRs has floated around 30 per cent in recent years.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an albatross of some sort, providing a ready alibi for every failing. It will, thus, not be surprising if many states blame the pandemic for their inability to harness their potential to bridge the budget gaps, which the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, said the regulator printed money to fund in 2015.

Emefiele explained that the apex bank’s interventions are meant to address the terrible economic outlook as “Nigeria is unfortunately in a very bad situation. “If you understand the concept of printing of money, it is about lending money. That is our job. To print is about lending money. So, there is no need to put all the controversy about the printing of money as if we go into the factory, print the naira and start distributing on the streets.”

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