The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said there is need to channel borrowed funds to regenerative ventures to strengthen the nation’s economy and generate more jobs for the citizens.
Dr. Fayemi said there was nothing wrong in the recent call made by President Muhammadu Buhari for a downward review of the nation’s debt portfolio owing to the prevailing revenue challenges facing the country.
He said the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), which he chairs, is waiting on the Supreme Court on the final resolution of the dispute between the Federal Government and some states of the federation on the collection of the Value Added Tax (VAT).
The Ekiti helmsman expressed confidence that his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) would still form the next government at the federal level and win majority of the states of the federation after the conduct of the 2023 general elections noting that the party for now was interested in the stability and security of the country.
Dr. Fayemi stated these while fielding questions on THISDAY LIVE, an interview programme on ARISE TELEVISION monitored in Ado Ekiti on Sunday. Dr. Fayemi also advocated that the Petroleum Industry Act should be implemented equitably among the nation’s federating units.
The Governor said the security of the people of Ekiti State was paramount to his administration, adding that the state has been leveraging on the synergy between the mainstream security institutions and the Amotekun Corps to secure lives and property of dwellers of the Land of Honour.
Predicting victory for APC in 2023, he said: “Contentions are always going to happen. APC is a big Party with different tendencies and there will be contentions for and against. We are very confident that this Party will produce the next government in this country in 2023 but before we get there, we are more focused on the country now. The Party is more interested in the stability and security of Nigeria. What is happening internally is something we will resolve internally.”
Responding to a question on borrowed funds, Dr. Fayemi said: “The President Buhari administration ought to be commended on the utilization of money being borrowed. It has utilized these monies more on infrastructure development than consumption which has aided economic growth.
“Clearly, it would be great not to borrow but it would also be great to redirect the funds that we have to regenerative areas of our economy. Realistically, we have a revenue challenge which has not enabled us build an economy that responds to the yearnings of Nigerians.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong in the President as a major voice in international affair, particularly in Africa and the black world calling for a review of debt management and arrangements.”
Lending his voice to the VAT controversy, Dr. Fayemi said: “For us at the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, this is an issue that we are looking both legally and politically. But our take on this is that the Supreme Court should accelerate its decision so that we have clarity over who should be in charge of Value Added Tax (VAT). Whether it is the Federal Inland Revenue Service, or States.
“States that have gone to court believe clearly that this responsibility evolves according to their own understanding of what the constitution says. The important thing is that our tax system is problematic, confusing, and contradictory. We need to do a lot more to clarify things so that it can give room for more efficient and effective collection of taxes.”
Lending his voice to the new Petroleum Industry Act, the NGF chair said: “We do not believe that the Ministry of Finance (incorporated) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources should be the sole owner of the company that have emerged out of the Petroleum Act because we believe that the entire body of petroleum institution is the product of the federation and not the Federal Government.
“And we have suggested that the one body that belongs to both the Federal, State, and Local Governments is the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority in which we (the states) are all shareholders and if it is held in trust by the Authority, then we are a lot more comfortable in seeing that as a federation company rather than a Federal Government company.
“The second concern that we have expressed relates to the depletion of the federation account by the various percentages that have been earmarked for frontier states and host communities of the petroleum product. Without prejudice to what the host communities deserve.”
On the security situation in Ekiti, Dr. Fayemi said: “Security is a permanent issue on the agenda of our State and as the governor. Ekiti is a state that is on the outer boundary of Northern and Southern Nigeria, right from Kogi and Kwara states.
“Some of the things that happened in the Northern states do have an impact on our security in Ekiti State just as it does in every other states around us and clearly. I have argued in the past that there is an inexplicable linkage between the fallout of insurgency and banditry in the Northeast and the Northwest and the kidnapping we are witnessing in some parts of the South.
“Our duty is to ensure that we protect the citizens on our watch and we have been trying to do that consistently. We have pulled together joint security initiatives between mainstream security institutions like the Police and the Military and also our own local security base.
“The challenge ultimately is that we must tackle insecurity not on a state-by-state basis alone but also through a comprehensive approach that will complement the National Security Response Strategy and reduce a whole of this scourge that we are experiencing in the country.
“Our state’s response strategy includes; strengthening our response mechanism locally by procuring equipment, providing incentives, and supporting the security institutions. We are also addressing the root causes of all of these by providing employment, reducing poverty index among other things.”
Speaking on the forthcoming Ekiti at 25 celebration, Dr. Fayemi expressed satisfaction that the State has witnessed what he called “significant improvement” but added that Ekiti is not a finished product yet as efforts are still on to get it to the point the citizens of the state would be proud of.