Budget preparation and presentation to the legislature by the executive arm of government has become a norm in Nigeria especially since the return to democratic government in 1999.
This yearly tradition and the ceremonies that go with it is predicated on anticipation of the presumed impact such budgets will make on the lives of the common citizens, especially in a state like Ebonyi with high poverty rate, high illiteracy rate and other peculiar challenges.
Unfortunately, the face value of these estimate/projections since 2016 appear reliable and good; whereas an indepth survey and analysis of budget performance of the Ebonyi State Government especially from 2016 to 2018 reveals government’s intent and actions that is professionally viewed as so inimical to the socio-economic well-being of the state.
These wide spread insincerity and seeming fraud appear aggravated and diversionary as the governor has always covered the tradition of wrong-headed intention with deceptive names and acronyms that are the opposite of the real intent of the handlers. Such names and acronyms include: 2016 budget was tagged Budget of Divine actualization; 2017 budget was tagged Budget of Inclusive Growth and Poverty Reduction in Economic Recession; 2018 budget was tagged Budget of Divine Manifestation.
One wonders how economists will develop variables for divine actualization, for 2016 budget, divine manifestation for 2018, from the budget which is viewed as an economic tool for development.
In 2017, what were the proxies inclusive gr owths and poverty reductions, were they properly measured. If yes, Ebonyians want facts in this direction from the professionals and research findings, not from political statements.
It is therefore pertinent to note that the total budget figure of Ebonyi State in 2018 stood at N208.3bn. Out of this total budget figure the governor projected about 53% as loan component of the whole budget while statutory, allocation, internally generated revenue, capital receipt and all other revenue projections constituted 47% of the state’s budget.
The simple and common economic interpretation of the 2018 Ebonyi State budget is that the government proposed to run the year’s budget on loan based on the 53% loan component of the whole budget.
The implication of this voracious move by Governor David Umahi is further enslavement of Ebonyians into indebtedness of about 20 years if we are to pay this from our yearly internally generated revenue.
Some of budget component like the IGR and capital receipts were merely allocated intended to reduce the percentage of the loan component. You can confirm the wide variation of this figures from the actual IGR reported at the end of the year.
The picture of my argument can also be made clearer when you compare the budget size of Ebonyi with that of other states of the federation that rank top especially in IGR, high population etc for example the South East States budget for 2018 are as follows:
In 2018, Anambra with a population of 4.17m, had a budget of N166.9bn; Abia of 2.8m people budgeted N141bn; Imo of 3.9m budgeted N190bn; Enugu of 3.2m people budgeted N98.6bn, while Ebony that is the least in population of the five sister states and least IGR, a population of 2.17m had a bloated busdget of N208,3bn, that was three times that of Enugu’s. that raises questions of prudence and propriety.
How do we therefore justify the 2018 budget figure compared to our population? Why must we borrow 53% of our budget figure? Why is this borrowed figure looped into one of few ministries? Is this borrowing actually for our benefits?
Ebonyians should ask themselves questions:
How much of this 208.3bn was spent on Department of Cement Production, Ebonyi State Building Material and Industrial Ltd, Ebonyi State Investment Property Ltd, Housing Estates and other economic investment that will create job opportunities to the teaming youth and unemployed Ebonyians.
What is the percentage of the 2018 budgets that went into the almighty Ministry (Ministry of Works and Transport) who and who were the contractors that handled the work so far executed by the ministry of works and transport since 2016 till date.
Atrocities on 2018 budget in terms of actual implementation speak volumes of the intention of the principal partner to continue the more you look the less you see approach.
For the avoidance of doubt, visit www.ebonyistate.gov.ng/ministry/finance/ebonyi/budget to see the actuals which is the real truth about the year’s budget.
A closer look at the 2016 and 2017 budgets in terms of actuals shows that key sectors where funds were voted for in the budgets estimates were completely abandoned for personal gains during implementation.
For example, in 2016 in the education sector, no capital release was made to the Ebonyi State University, (EBSU), Ministry of Education, Ebonyi State College of Education Ikwo (ESCEI), only N3,000,000 was released to the Secondary Education Board (SEB).
Under the economic sector, in 2018, the Budget Department of the Cement Production, Ebonyi State Building Materials and Industrial Ltd, Ebonyi State Investment Property Ltd, Hosuing Estate all received zero capital release despite beautiful painting of figures attached to these viable budget components even during passage by the State House of Assembly. The deceit is massive and hits across other sectors including health, job creation etc.
In the 2018 budget, the government proposed N165.004bn representing N79.20% as capital component and N43.326bn as current representing only 20.30% of the budget. But quite interesting is the fact that out of N165.005bn for all capital expenditure, one ministry – the Ministry of Works and Transport got N96.567, representing 58.52%. Isn’t it economically ridiculous and scandalous that just one ministry received almost 60% of all capital budget of the state for a whole year.
Further investigation shows that as at December 2018, the government had spent more than the money originally appropriated to the Ministry of Works and Transport as was the trend in 2016 and 2017.
The pertinent questions from the shoddy development are; Which contractors did works for the Ministry of Works and Transport; On what points were jobs, contracts advertised and bided for in the Ministry of Works and Transport; Who owns the equipment labeled as that of the ministry but have not been seen around the ministries environs;
These hanging and unanswered question are the reasons we urge Ebonyians to stay awake and at alert, and resist the continued enslavement and shoddy governance that has no place for due process.
The decoration decorations that adorn some streets of Abakaliki are indeed diversionary, unnecessary and wasteful as the budgets that power them have never been even human, as against the ‘false divinity’ attached to it every year. They could be possibly have been criminal and devilish documents executed with the same mindset. ���