…How He Earned His Place in Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Train

Mohammed Bello Shehu was appointed by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2022 as the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

Bello succeeded Elias Mba who had left the Commission after serving as its Chairman for two terms spanning ten years. Bello’s retention by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is an acknowledgement of his satisfactory performance so far in his first two years as Chairman.

RMAFC was established by Decree No. 49 of 1989 and later amended by Decree 98 of 1993 (now RMAFC Act CAP R7 LFN 2004) under Section 153(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended).The Commission is listed as one of the 14 Federal Executive Bodies. It has a Chairman and Members from each State of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory appointed by the President.

The responsibility of the commission includes monitoring and mobilization of revenues to the Federation Account, disbursement, as well as fixing and reviewing of the salaries of political, public and judicial office holders.

Shortly after his inauguration as Chairman, Shehu assured that the commission would assist the Federal Government to get more revenue, block leakages, implement the constitutional responsibility of the commission.

Bello said: “The task is challenging. We all know the situation that Nigeria is, or even globally when you look at contemporary African countries like South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Egypt, and all the economic issues that are facing including Nigeria.

“We had the COVID-19, we had a recession, we now have the war with Ukraine, which has affected many countries and revenues are down all over.

Bello said his administration would focus on how it can get more revenue for Mr President. He acknowledged the fact that there has been a debate on whether there was an operating surplus by agencies of government. Some agencies of government claim that what they are getting is a surplus of revenue.

“Revenue is revenue as far as the commission is concerned,” Bello said, stating that “my task is to get our members to respond to the task that Mr President gave them… That is what we are going to do with all the stakeholders Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), the Federal Ministry of Finance, every revenue generating agency, we have to collaborate and corroborate to be able to assist Mr. President to get more revenue before he leaves office. This is a task that should be done by every meaningful member of the commission…”And also, we will maintain our independence like it had been enshrined in the constitution.”

Since then, he has been working silently but doggedly to fulfill the mandate of the Commission. He has, for instance, started the process for the review of the remuneration for Political, Public and Judicial office holders in the country. He disclosed this during a courtesy visit to the former Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwal in Abuja. According him, the last time the review was carried out was 2008 which makes the exercise to be long over due. The exercise is expected to cover political office holders from the President down to Local Government councillors.

The proposed review of salaries and allowances of political, public and judicial officers in Nigeria is meant to address the growing agitations from the political class. The salary review has been necessitated by the rising cost of living and the need to discourage corrupt tendencies by public and political office holders whose positions are tenured. It is also redress the situation whereby some political appointees earn more than the country’s President.

Shehu is also said to be working on the introduction of a new revenue allocation formula that will replace the existing outdated formula being deployed to share Federation Account revenue to governments at all levels. The nation’s revenue allocation formula has not been reviewed for about 29 years even though Nigeria’s constitution prescribes a five-year review period for the formula.

Under his leadership the RMAFC has introduced a software that would help in data collection for review of horizontal revenue allocation formula amongst states and amongst Local Government Councils. To achieve this, RMAFC has embarked on training of government officials of states and local governments, including area councils of the Federal Capital Territory, to equip them with in-depth understanding of and operations of the electronic platform that the Commission would use in data collection as it prepares to review the proxies for the Horizontal Revenue Allocation Formula for the nation. The software is to enhance the collection of data on the indices to be used for the horizontal Revenue Allocation Formula for the nation.

In a statement, “the RMAFC Chairman stated that pursuant to its mandate to review the indices used for the Horizontal Revenue Allocation Formula from time to time in line with the changing realities, the Commission is deploying the latest information technology tools to minimize human interface in data collection, thereby promoting objectivity, transparency, justice and equity in revenue allocation.”