A two-time governor of Akwa Ibom State (1999-2007), Obong Victor Bassey Attah, said all state governors in Nigeria should earn salary according to their state’s revenue.
Mr. Attah, during his time in office the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, opinionated in an interview, that fiscal federalism and resource control is the answer to the several challenges militating against the country. He affirmed that “no sculptor can carve a masterpiece out of a rotten wood”.
In his opinion, Attah said there should not be uniformity in a federal arrangement.
“What I am looking at is, today, in the United States of America USA, there are big states, there are small states; there are rich states, there are poor states. In California, I think it is the one that pays the highest salary to a governor, the governor earns just about $190, 000 a year. Then if you come to a small state like Maine which is a poor state, the governor earns $70, 000 a year, and the wife of that governor, goes three days a week to work in a restaurant as a waitress to supplement her husband’s salary. But here, because one governor has money enough to fly in a private jet, every governor must fly in a private jet. We are saying that there cannot be uniformity in a federal arrangement.”
“This is what we have refused to acknowledge and accept because we think that there must be uniform salary. Why should there be uniform salary? Why should the product of oil cost the same where the oil is produced as some distant places where it has to be transported to? These are some of the distortions that we have in our present, so-called, and I use that word without apology, so-called federal arrangement because what we have is not a proper federal arrangement. In a federal situation, you cut your coat according to your cloth. The governor should earn what he can; if he has to ride a bicycle to work, he should in fact ride a bicycle to work if that is what can sustain him and for him to keep his state going.”
On the issue of Kaduna state having more gold than South Africa as claimed by Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, Attah said:
“The governor of Kaduna was the one that said there is more gold in Kaduna than the whole of South Africa. So, why should Kaduna State not be able to meet all of its obligations and put a lot of money into the federation account? I do not want any state putting money in anybody’s hands to go and distribute. I want every state to stand on its own and pay whatever the constitution says states must pay to the federation.”
The ex governor further shared his opinion on other federal affairs in the country, which according to him are worrisome. He suggested that government needs to look at the situation holistically.