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Nigerian States Support Discontinuing Payment in Dollars

By Kunle Aderinokun This Day, Lagos, Nigeria via AllAfrica.com Wednesday, February 20, 2008 http://allafrica.com/stories/200802200406.html

ABUJA, Nigeria -- A few days after President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua stopped the payment of their share of monthly allocations and excess crude proceeds in US dollars as earlier proposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the 36 states of the federation yesterday said they supported the decision because the dollar is not the nation's legal tender.

Also yesterday, the Federal Government directed the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation to carry out a comprehensive audit of all revenue inflows into the Federation Account from the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian National petroleum Corporation, Federal Inland Revenue Service, and Department of Petroleum Resources, as well as review the petroleum subsidy account.

Fielding questions from finance correspondents after the monthly meeting of the Federation Account Allocation Committee yesterday at the Ladi Kwali Hall of Sheraton Hotel and Towers, the Ondo State commissioner for finance and economic planning and chairman of the Forum of Finance Commissioners, Chief Tayo Alasoadura, said the states' support for the stoppage of the dollar payment was predicated more on the need to keep the country's pride and independence than pecuniary reasons.

Chief Alasoadura said, "We are happy with the decision. We don't want dollar payment because the dollar is not our legal tender. Why should the highest revenue body of the country be paying money in dollars?

"We are degrading our own currency for other currencies. Let us have our money in naira. Anyone who wants to convert to dollars can go to the market to buy dollars. The legal tender of Nigeria is naira and we should be paid in naira. We are all in agreement with the president on this matter.

"Our rejection of dollar payment is not because of depreciation of the dollar. Our decision is based on the country's pride and our independence. We should be paid in our own legal tender. We don't want dollar payment."

Earlier, while declaring open the Federation Account Allocation Committee meeting, the minister of state for finance, Mr. Remi Babalola, said that the issue of payment of statutory allocations to all tiers of government in foreign currency had been laid to rest following the presidential directive.

"As some of you may already be aware, the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces has directed that any plan to disburse federation account funds to federal, state, and local governments in foreign currency should be stopped forthwith. With this development, I believe that this matter should be laid to rest," he said.