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Monday, September 25, 2023

Disbursing Public Funds Equitably

What exactly is the ideal criteria used to share public fund among beneficiaries (in this case, the 36 states and Abuja)?
Should it be on need basis, to states affected or devastated by an incident, that means, assistance to help them mitigate against further losses or, should it be to those who raised the guard, long before time to ward off such negative occurrences, meaning, compensation for investment in protection.

Let’s start to look at it from the sharing of ecological fund to states of the Federation. The Nigerian Metrological Agency, NIMET, for instance issued a flood alert for 2020, while some states are taking steps to mitigate the devastation it may cause, some others are simply doing little or nothing. It raises concern when the floods eventual come and the federal government steps in to share the relief fund; so, on what basis should this be executed?

Good, you may see it is justifying to have states with devastation given more from the fund, at least it will help them rebuild what was destroyed. But where does the federal government gesture of reward system come in, shouldn’t a state that has invested its own resources generously to raise the bar against flooding also draw benefits for a good job?

The above scenery is one of the reasons many states will do little or nothing about infrastructure, little or nothing to desilt the drains and little or nothing to build buffer against flood waters, because there is the ecological fund that is only meant for states negatively affected (they see it as sharing from the national cake).

This picture brings to the fore issues about our most traumatic experience as a nation; Covid-19 Pandemic. It is no longer news, Lagos State was gifted N10bn (we all saw its effort at containing the spread and because it is the Nigeria epicenter of the disease). Also, most people reacted negatively, even yours sincerely did, against the demand of N1bn by the Anambra government.

But in the past days, I have had a rethink. Was the Anambra Governor out of place to make such a demand? No! Unfortunately, no one heeded or attempted to consider the merits of his demand.

Then what qualifies a state for such intervention fund? Some other persons have wondered why Ogun State was not included, being the first state that was adversely affected by the visit of Nigeria’s first Covid-19 confirmed case.

Until we, as a people and the government began to redefine what shapes our reward system, we are sure to have some huge challenge in the days ahead. If a state can only DRAW from the Covid-19 fund because she has a spike in confirmed cases, let’s brace up for all the 36 states and Abuja as they role out their figures in the days ahead.

Have you not noticed, while some states are taking measures to prevent the spread and procure equipment to contain it should they have an index case, some are not doing enough. Moreover, a reported case qualifies a state for the next round of “lagease”. Would it be out of place  for government to also consider supplying all the states with ventilators as a safeguard? The numbers are already rising, getting outside Lagos, so, they are as qualified to get support.

This obviously is the sad narrative that has become of our federal structure, where the states are mare appendages of the Federal Government. Come to think of it, which country does that, give equal constitutional allocation to all the local governments, irrespective of their sizes, needs, or potential?

The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 does have a challenge of how to disburse the intervention fund to solve quickly, as we may soon have test centres in all the 36 states and Abuja, then creating window for “questionable” figures of confirmed cases emerging.

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