Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has urged the 36 state governors in the country and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, to disclose details of federal allocations meant for local governments in their respective state including FCT.
In the freedom of information requests dated January 27, 2024, by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization, also demanded disclosure of the actual disbursement of the allocations to the local governments since the return of democracy in 1999.
SERAP also urged them “to promptly invite Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate the actual disbursement and spending of federal allocations meant for local governments.
Former President Muhammadu Buhari, had in December 2022 stated that, “If the money from the Federation Account to the State is about N100 million, N50 million will be sent to the chairman but he will sign that he received N100 million. The chairman will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants to share it with. Nigerians have the right to know the details of actual disbursement and spending of federal allocations in your state and the FCT.”
SERAP continued: “States and the FCT should be guided by transparency and accountability principles and proactively publish information pertaining to their actual disbursement and spending of federal allocations meant for local governments.
“Opacity in the amounts of federal allocations actually disbursed to local governments in your state has continued to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens and the public interest.
“The FoI requests, read, in part: We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel you and your state and the FCT to comply with our requests in the public interest.
“Transparency in the actual disbursement and spending of federal allocations meant for local governments is fundamental to increase accountability, prevent corruption, and build trust in democratic institutions, and strengthen the rule of law.
“According to our information, the 36 states in Nigeria and the federal capital territory, Abuja, have collected over N40 trillion federal allocations meant for the 774 local governments areas in the country and FCT.
“The Federation Account Allocation Committee disbursed to states N225.21 billion federal allocations meant for local governments in November 2023 alone. States also collected N258,810,449,711.47 federal allocations meant for local government areas in December 2023.
“However, there is opacity in the actual disbursement of federal allocations to the local government areas in your state. States and the FCT have over the years failed and/or refused to disclose the portion of federal allocations that are disbursed by state governors.
“SERAP also urges you to provide details of the transparency and accountability mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure that the trillions of naira of federal allocations that have been received by your state and the FCT are not embezzled, misappropriated or diverted into private pockets.
“Section 162(6) of Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) provides that each state shall maintain a ‘State Joint Local Government Account’ into which all allocations to local government councils from the Federation Account and from the government of the state shall be paid.
“The public interest in publishing the information sought outweighs any considerations to withhold the information. Nigerians are entitled to the right to receive information without any interference or distortion, and the enjoyment of this right should be based on the principle of maximum disclosure.”