Wednesday, the 13th day of December 2017, will be a major day of remembrance to members of the Imo State House of Assembly, especially, those of the present state legislature who were dazzled by the Chief Executive officer of the State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, during the 2018 Budget Presentation.
The event which took place at the chamber of the House saw Okorocha consume more than two hours of the time to showcase his achievements since he became governor in 2011, than reel out contents of the figures and projects his administration.
On arrival into the complex for the presentation, Okorocha was ushered into the Speaker’s office for Executive session. Through, it was a closed door meeting; Trumpeta learnt that crucial issues affecting the welfare of the members were discussed and grapevine sources revealed that the governor promised to handle the “grey” arrears they are not comfortable with before he was allowed to be ushered into the plenary session.
It would be recalled that a rumpus was witnessed weeks ago, when the lawmakers not only shunned the earlier scheduled Budget Presentation, but also moved for the suspension of the Clerk of the House, Chris Duru, thereby indicating that the impeachment of the Speaker and Governor Okorocha was in the offing.
At the plenary after Okorocha was granted permission to present the budget, the Imo governor started by using a projector-like audience view structure to showcase his achievements. The documentary showpiece took over the Budget presentation. Instead of listening to the figures, programs and details of the amount for next year, what the lawmakers got was Okorocha’s achievements thereby indicating that the House members could be foreigners who are not conversant or not in touch with events and developments in the State not to record his giant strides as claimed in the projection.
Our team of reporters who observed the proceedings disclosed that majority of the lawmakers were seriously taken aback when the video documentary dominated the proceedings. Some of the lawmakers, including the leadership, were spotted sending notes and signals to the governor to end the video show and present the budget, but to no avail as the governor allegedly turned a deaf ear to their overtures.
At the end of the show, the governor merely submitted the Budget after few highlights that were not in details for the lawmakers to know the projects earmarked for 2018 fiscal year and the amount attached to each of it for approval.
Rather, the governor presented a budget of N190,921,464,290 for 2018 FISCAL year in what it tagged “Budget of consolidation and continuity 111”.
The 2018 budget which is higher than that of 2017 of N131, 143, 144, 277, by N59, 778, 320, 013 representing 45.58% is tagged “Budget of Consolidation and Continuity III”, and out of the 2018 budget, N132.98 billion is for Capital expenditure representing 69.70% of the total budget while N57.943 billion is for recurrent expenditure which represents 30.30% of the total budget.
Governor Okorocha said “The 2018 budget will not only Consolidate our development efforts but will ensure prudence and efficiency in our expenditure programmes”.
He added “This administration intends to use the limited resources at our disposal to achieve maximum impact. We intend to achieve synergy through collaboration and integration of Programmes and projects at all levels in order to realize our vision of making Imo better. All relevant agencies of government will be strengthened to gear up towards their Constitutional responsibilities to ensure that all programmes and projects are being monitored at all times”.
In the breakdown of the budget, Works and Transport has the bulk allocation with N39,811,300,000 and followed by education with N13,500,000,000. Agriculture and Environment has N7,622,990,049, while the least is culture with N440,244,096.
Reviewing the period before his administration in 2011, Governor Okorocha said “The State was characterized by excessive traffic congestion in Owerri, Orlu, and Okigwe. Insecurity particularly in the areas of kidnapping and armed robbery were highly prevalent across the 27 Local Government Areas of the State”.
He continued “All these Constituted part of the major challenges the administration faced when it came on board in 2011. However these problems have been progressively addressed and drastically reduced”.
His words, “A quick review of our journey since the creation of Imo State 41 years ago will reveal that the achievements so far recorded in Imo State since this government assumed office in 2011 have been remarkable. I give glory to Almighty God for this. It is part of the hallmarks of democracy to unmask the potentials of the citizens and properly channel resources towards economic growth”.
He explained that “The government shall consolidate on the gains already made in areas such as Security and Safety of every Citizen, free education at all levels of learning, completion of all on-going projects, massive road Construction to reach the rural areas, provision of HealthCare facilities, develop the tourism industry, ensure food security, and so on”.
The governor also hinted that his administration has paid Compensations worth over N2.11 billion to land owners at Naze, Irete, Orji. Agum Avu and New Arugo as well as Imo Modern Market Extension, Irete. These include traditional rites and Compensatory plots. Meanwhile, additional N233.32 million has been earmarked for payment to other land owners for various land acquisitions in the State.
In his speech, Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim said the Assembly members would continue to work in collaboration with the Rescue Mission government for the good of the State and her people and assured that the members would give the budget the attention it deserves.
Similarly, the budget according to the governor promises to carry all sectors along. To this fate, Local Government Areas of the State are to be given N1,000,000,000b each with the CGC inclusive.
Okorocha hinted that all relevant agencies of government will be strengthened to gear up towards their constitutional responsibilities to ensure that all programmes and projects are being monitored at all times. He added that such will be actualized through the collaboration of State and Local Government Audits.
The LGAs on receiving their cash are however expected to embark and complete any project they decide on without further disturbance on the State Government and to be completed within a specified duration
At the end, the Budget was given a second reading stamp and verifications from the House indicate that normal Budget handling like defense of allocations by Ministries, Parastatals and Departments may not be observed as the Appropriation Bill may be passed into law Dec 19, 2017.