The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday charged the 36 states to think like sovereign states in the area of internally generated revenue to be able to survive.

Osinbajo appealed to the 36 state governors to start investing in areas where their states had comparative advantages to shore up their IGR with a view to stop their reliance on federal allocations.

He spoke in Ado Ekiti during the Fountain Summit 2021 (Economic Development and Investment Summit) with the theme, ‘Investment Attractiveness and Economic Development: Lessons for Sub-nationals,’ shortly after he inaugurated the Ekiti State Civic Center, Ado Ekiti, as part of activities for the three years anniversary of the Dr Kayode Fayemi administration.

The summit was attended by dignitaries, including governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Godwin Obaseki (Benin), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) represented by his deputy, Lucky Ayedatiwa; Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi; and the Chairman, Ekiti State Council of Obas, Oba Ayodele Adejuwon.

The vice president said, “There has to be a collective change of mindset. There is the need for the sub-national to think like a sovereign state.

“The question the policy makers should ask is what if we were a landlocked nation, how are we going to survive? There is a different mindset when you are sure of monthly allocation of cash at least enough to pay salaries. This is a challenge.”

He charged the governors to strive “to take responsibility for all of those who reside within your borders, pay all the salaries from only the IGR. Sometimes, a shock is what you need like what happened in Lagos.

Osinbajo pointed out that Lagos State was compelled to think like a sovereign state when former President Olusegun Obasanjo withheld its allocations, saying the state reengineered its tax office and Land Registry, with the result that “from IGR of N600m in 1999, 2000, Lagos today does about N45bn a month and is targeting N60bn.”

Fayemi said that the summit was targeted at putting the state on the path of sustainable economic growth.

While calling for review of the constitutional framework on security, the Nigerian Governor’s Forum chairman said, “We need multi-level police arrangement which includes state police. With that position, the governors are not proposing abrogation of central police.”

Suggesting how Ekiti could transform its IGR and break the challenge of sole reliance on federal allocation, Lagos State Governor, Sanwo-Olu, advised Ekiti to digitalise its revenue collection process and give staff in the state Internal Revenue Service incentives to do their jobs without perpetrating corruption.

PUNCH