The budgets of Osun, Nasarawa, Enugu and seven other states in the country are less than the annual earnings of 10 top athletes in Europe and America put together, Sunday PUNCH has gathered.
The combined yearly salaries of athletes such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and basketball star, Lebron James, are higher than the budgets of some states in Nigeria put together.
According to reports published on sportreview.com, the total amount earned per year by the three athletes from salaries, sponsorships and endorsements is N148,992,480,000.
Using the Central Bank of Nigeria exchange rate of N424.48 to $1, Messi earns N55,182,400,000 ($130m); Ronaldo gets N48,815,200,000 ($115m), while James takes home N51,362,080,000 ($121.2m).
Whereas the combined 2022 budgets of Nasarawa, Ekiti and Abia states is N356,750,000,000. In December 2021, the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, signed the N110bn 2022 budget into law.
In the same vein, the Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, signed the 2022 budget of N100.75bn into law with a promise to complete all ongoing legacy projects and consolidate other achievements recorded in the past years.
On his part, the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, signed into law a total of N147.28bn as the state’s budget for 2022.
Economy weak – Experts
Speaking in separate interviews with Sunday PUNCH, experts attribute the low budgets by states to a weak national economy.
A professor of Economics at the University of Uyo, Akpakpan Edet, said states should stimulate the economy by cutting down the cost of governance and creating an enabling environment for investors to thrive, thereby creating quality jobs, which would enable the citizens to pay taxes.
According to him, all available resources should be concentrated on the economy to achieve desired development in the states.
He said, “What it means is that the economy of the states is very weak. They are not able to generate substantial internal revenue; when the economy is weak, they don’t have many people in employment and those who are able to find anything to do at all will be doing menial jobs that don’t pay them substantial income, so they end up being unable to pay taxes; that’s the problem.
“Look at what governors earn and all the security votes and so on, they don’t account for them. If half of the money the government is spending on frivolities is put in the economy, things will begin to change.
“What the states need to do, and in fact the entire nation, is to stimulate the economy and that can be done within two to three years; changes can be made. Whatever resources you have, you put into productive activities.
“If a government comes into office and directly takes two productive activities and establishes something in the state with it, even if it is a farm, and plan it very well so it will succeed, whatever you produce, you will be adding value; with that, you create opportunities for more people to earn better income and then you can tax them.”
Edet added, “That way, you will be increasing the number of human beings who can pay tax and then you collect your tax and make sure that every citizen pays tax. And this is one of the problems; the states don’t have opportunities for taxpayers and they are inefficient in taxing.”
“Then, you can add factory overtime; if he’s a smart governor, he can attract a company that is producing some of the things that are being sold in your market and tell that company to put the factory in your state, create a conducive environment and expand your economy. Sensible people should run the economies of society and not greedy people who don’t have any business in government offices.
“They all run to Abuja to share oil money and when they get it, they run back home and spend it on themselves and their cronies instead of putting the money in productive activities, that’s why you have so many people unemployed.”
A professor of African Economic History and Development at the Federal University of Kashere, Noah Attah, said, “The fact is that we are operating an economy that does not produce, but consumes. The analogy of the athletes is straightforward, what they are earning is the by-product of the production that has already taken place, and they are offering services for those who want to enjoy pleasure; if you go to our stadiums today, except maybe Nigeria is playing against another national team, you are not likely to find people in the stadiums, because somebody who doesn’t know where the next meal will come from will not think of going to the stadium.
“Our states are not producing; they go camping and they wait for the meal ticket from Abuja every month, where they share the money. And then when they share it with those in power, you know what they do with it.
“To save the situation, first you have to put the horse before the cart. When we are talking of leadership, they are the type of people who go there for the purpose of
primitive accumulation in the sense that they go there to enrich themselves. Therefore, we need people who will not go to the government house to steal. When you look at the emergence of the US, Britain and Japan, you will also discover that those who hold the means of production are the ones who found themselves in the position of governance and not dropouts, not people who have no jobs, not people who don’t have a record of their productive achievements.
“Those in government, most of them are people who are involved in buying and selling; they buy contracts and they sell contracts. They do not produce a pin. Even toilet roll, they cannot produce. Such people, what will they do in the National Assembly to turn around governance?”