by crossriverwatch admin
Records obtained from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation show clearly that the 18 local government areas in Cross River State got a gross total of N203, 102,369,932 in allocation between 2006 and 2010.
After all statutory deductions, the records show that N172, 646,973,680 was actually transferred to the State as allocation for the 18 local governments between 2006 and 2010.
A breakdown of the figures indicate that in year 2006, gross allocation to the eighteen local governments was N34, 001,966,865 and total allocation less all deductions for the year was N29, 316,553,244.
In 2007, gross allocation to the local councils was N39, 783,829,441 while the total allocation less all statutory deductions was N31,955,,281,240.
For the year 2008, gross allocation to the local councils was N55,488,056,482 and after all deductions came down to N50,090,140,228.
While in 2009 and 2010 gross allocation to the councils was N35,083,943,846 and N38,744,573,299 and reduced to N25,539,394,200 and N35, 745,604,768 respectively, after all deductions.
These allocations cover receipts from the 13% Derivation, Value Added Tax, VAT, Augmentation from Excess Crude Account and Refund from Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Nigeria Customs Service.
Cross River State has also remained one of the few states across the country that has remained consistent in the conduct of local government elections with brief periods of caretaker arrangements at the local councils.
So it is expected that these huge sums have been managed mostly by democratically elected governments at the third tier.
But findings on the ground across the state by crossriverwatch are a sharp contrast in juxtaposition with the volume of allocations that have gone to the eighteen local councils.
Watchers of events in the state say that there is no marked difference in the management of local government funds under the Imoke administration than what it was under Donald Duke.
The Duke Administration was notorious for alleged diversion of local government funds into sundry projects and pundits are saying that the same fate has befallen local government allocations in the past five years of Imoke administration.
Human rights activist, Barrister Obono Obla told crossriverwatch that: “If you imagine that 18 local councils in the State got over 172billion in allocation from the Federation Account and the fact that there is nothing on the ground to show for it is terrible. Our people have no reason to suffer they way they are suffering if these amount of money was actualize utilize for the purposes it was meant for.
“The Duke administration diverted local government funds into several dubious ventures like the wife’s NGO and Tinapa and we thought that with the exit of Duke, the situation will be different. But up till now it is not. So much money is going into the councils but when you go to the councils, you do not see any development and the chairmen keep saying that what is allocated on paper is not what gets to them. So we are still in the same vicious circle.”
Some local government chairmen who spoke to crossriverwatch say they don’t get their allocations as published in the press. They complain that the governors tamper with the local government funds but they cannot complain openly about it for fear of losing their offices.
One of them who spoke to us on condition of anonymity said: “All these amount of money that you journalists are calling; if even half of that money can get to us chairmen, I am sure we will definitely do some things even if we steal part of it. We don’t even get quarter not to talk of half of all those figures you see in the news but we cannot talk because we will lose the seat. And if you want to know where the rest of the money hangs, go to Preregrino lodge in Calabar”.
Another Chairman told crossriverwatch that “I really wish local governments can be given the much talked about autonomy including the abolition of the Joint State and Local Government Accounts. If that is done and allocation can get to the councils directly, chairmen can begin to take their own initiative and development their areas no matter how little.
“The way the system is today, the press just write all those figures but we are at the mercy of the governor. What you get is what you get and you have to work with it. You can’t even borrow to execute any project with the approval of the governor. So it is difficult for us chairmen but we also cannot complain openly”
As the local government elections approaches, it is incumbent on the voters to ask questions about what has been done with previous allocations before they head to the pools.
Crossriverwatch shall be profiling your candidates for the forthcoming local government elections. We shall also be bringing you updates about what some of the council chairmen say they have done with the allocations that they have received.
This should enable citizens to make informed decisions before casting their votes at the polls.
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