Exposed! How Top Politicians Turn RMAFC to Cash Cow

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Exposed! How Top Politicians Turn RMAFC to Cash Cow

Exposed! How Top Politicians Turn RMAFC to Cash Cow
April 02
08:09 2021

...Governors, Godfathers Use Commission to Compensate Election Losers, Relatives

The once feared Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission now provides a home for people waiting to bounce back into public life or those whom governors need to thank for services rendered.

The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), which has been in place since 1989, is supposed to help the federal government manage oil and other revenues and curb the astronomical cost of the civil service by keeping salaries of elected officials and of federal and state civil servants in check. But the commission, where all 36 Nigerian states are represented on the board, has become highly politicised. It is now a place where President Muhammadu Buhari and his associates place local personalities who mostly work for the ruling party.
The RMAFC is also seen as relatively ineffective and under pressure from politicians who want to make sure that local and national elected officials cling on to their very comfortable salaries. Each of Nigeria’s 100 senators costs around $7m (N3bn) a year in salaries, bonuses, and expenses, while nearly two-thirds of the Nigerian population live below the poverty line.

Elias Mbam Runs the place like a family heirloom

RMAFC chairman Elias Mbam was appointed in 2010 by Nigeria’s then president, Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), but he has now learned to serve the interests of Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC). He also worked hard to ensure that Dave Umahi, the governor of Ebonyi State in Igbo country north of the Niger Delta from which he himself hails, switched from the PDP to the APC at the end of last year

Mbam is slowly but surely preparing a possible bid for the Ebonyi governorship in 2023. After two terms, Umahi can no longer run for re-election and could easily leave his seat to the man who helped him get closer to the current administration in Abuja.

Former stars and APC newbies

A study of the profiles of the 36 states’ representatives on the RMAFC board illustrates the organisation’s growing politicisation. It has always had within its ranks a large number of political administrators (former vice-governors or parliamentarians) with a successful career behind them, along with those who lost elections and for whom a lucrative position must be found.

Some sponsors, known locally as “godfathers”, place their pawns to try to control the institution. This is the case with the former deputy governor of Abia State, Chris Akomas, who was able to rely on his former boss, ex-governor and current senator Orji Uzor Kalu, to place him at the RMAFC. The representative for Akwa Ibom State, Ayang Sunday Okon, was a commissioner to the current Niger Delta Minister Godswill Obot Akpabio when the latter was still governor.

Anambra State’s representative, Chima Philip Okafor, was helped by governor Willie Obiano, who is close to Buhari. Okafor resigned his commissioner’s post when Peter Obi, running mate for the unsuccessful 2019 opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, was still governor of the state.

Electoral help

Samuel Adaa Maagbe is close to former ambassador to Russia and defeated Benue gubernatorial candidate Steve Torkuma Ugbah via the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), one of the parties that merged to form the APC in 2013. Alfred Egba, who defected from the PDP to the APC in 2015, was nominated by petroleum minister state minister and former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva.

The Adamawa State representative in the RMAFC, Salamatu Mohammed Bala, wants to help the current very powerful boss of the Nigerian civil service, Boss Mustapha, to whom she is close, to win the governorship in 2023. The incumbent of one of the most important offices in Nigeria will need Bala’s influence in the Guyuk area of the state to do so.

Governors’ relatives

For Borno State (the historical epicentre of Boko Haram’s activities), Adamu Shettima Yuguda Dibal, once special adviser to former governor Kashim Shettima, was parachuted onto the RMAFC board. Ebonyi State is represented by Patrick Mgbebu, a local figure who almost became the boss of THE APC in 2014 when the party was founded.

Victor Eboigbe, who represents Edo State, got a helping hand from his sister Clara Oshiomhole, who was married until her death in 2010 to Adams Oshiomhole, ex-governor of Edo and former APC chairman at the federal level until 2020. Adams Oshiomhole also had a hand in getting Eboigbe the RMAFC job.

Amujo Philip Ajayi was recommended by the powerful governor of Ekiti State and former minister of mines, Kayode Fayemi. Fayemi had earlier appointed him as the head of the local government.

The new governor of Gombe, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, positioned his former chief of staff, Mohammed Usman, in the RMAFC. The former deputy governor of Jigawa, Alhaji Ahmed Mahmoud Gumel, has a similar track record and was helped along the way by his governor, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar.

Ibikunle Amosun, a close Buhari ally, former governor of Ogun and now a senator, played godfather to one of his former commissioners, Fari Adebayo. Wenah Asondu Temple owes his position to former Rivers governor and transport minister Rotimi Amaechi, while Abubakar Sadiq A. Gusau owes a lot to former governor of Zamfara state Abdul Aziz Yari, whose adviser he was until 2019.

Kabir Muhammad Mashi is the representative for Katsina, Buhari’s home state. He may have got some help from his governor, Aminu Bello Masari, but within the RMAFC he is a technocrat, having served as chairman of the Joint Tax Board and acting chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services.

Failed election candidates make for good RMAFC representatives

After Rilwan Hussein Abarshi’s failure in parliamentary elections, Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu put his name forward for the RMAFC as a reward for being a good soldier for the APC. In Kwara State, it was Abdullahi Shuaibu Yaman’s Senate and gubernatorial defeats that prompted APC Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to suggest his nomination to President Buhari. Ibrahim Bako Bagudu Shettima also failed to get elected in the APC primaries in Niger State and was asked by the president’s office to take a seat in the RMAFC.

For the Abuja region, Musa Abari was chosen to sit on the RMAFC after he was an unsuccessful senatorial candidate in 2011 for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Buhari’s party at the time, and again in 2019 with the APC

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