A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Muhammad Sanusi, has accused state governors of being undemocratic as they interfere with the running of local governments by micromanaging them but would not tolerate some of these things from the Federal Government.

Sanusi, who is the former Emir of Kano, was very critical of the actions of the state governors who presently have the false belief that they were the only tier of government that is being short-changed. This was made known by Sanusi during an interview on Arise TV to mark Nigeria’s 61st independence anniversary on Friday.

Sanusi, who said he is an advocate of letting sub-nationals have more resources, cited the state governors’ opposition to local governments receiving their allocations directly from the federation account as an example of their trying to muscle them.

What the former CBN Governor is saying

Sanusi criticized the governors for paying too much attention to the region that would produce the next president in 2023 when there are several other issues of greater interest to Nigerians.

He said, “I think too much money at the federal level has led us to concentrate too much on Abuja and it has basically been a matter of life and death for politicians to get there.

“I’m a strong advocate of having more money devolved, but you must also remember that the governors fighting for Value Added Tax (collection) are also extremely undemocratic. They don’t allow the local governments to have their money (allocation). They resist.

“The President signed an Executive Order saying money meant for local governments should be given to them but the governors fought it. Why are the governors holding on to the money that should go to the local governments?

“If we really want to push for federalism, it can’t be one tier of government, I mean the states, acting as if they are the only tier that has been short-changed. I think we need to respect our constitution and if you are going to have a federation of states, cancel the local governments.

“We are ignoring the constitution. The states always complain about what the Federal Government is doing to them, but they do not talk about what they are doing to the local governments and these are issues we need to look at.”

On his take on the ongoing Value Added Tax (VAT) collection dispute between some state governments and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Sanusi stated, “Collecting VAT at sub-national level would lead to multiple taxation and I hope people understand that it would also increase the cost of goods. I think we need to look at our federation and look at how we distribute resources.”

What you should know

There have been growing calls for the practice of true fiscal federalism in the country with more resources and responsibilities to the states and local governments.

However, almost all the states across the country have been interfering in the running of local governments as they withhold and make use of funds meant for this third tier of government.

They set up joint state and local government accounts where allocations to local governments from the Federation accounts are paid into and are under their control.