Governor Ikpeazu
Governor Ikpeazu of Abia State

By PETER OKORE, Umuahia

On Friday, 28th December, 2018, Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, presented a provisional budget estimate of N139.5billion to the Abia State House of Assembly for approval for the services of the state government in the 2019 fiscal year.
 The budget has a capital expenditure of N71.72Billion, representing 51.4% of the budget outlay. It has a recurrent expenditure of N67.8billion, representing 48.6 percent of the total budget as against N68.5Billion for the previous year which represents a decrease of 1.00 percent.
Comparatively, the entire budget outlay is slightly less than that of 2018, which was N140.94billion. The reason for this moderate decrease is probably due to the resolve of the state administration to formulate a budget that conforms to the current economic circumstances in the country.
Christened: “Budget of Consolidation”, the budget is meant to ensure the completion of ongoing projects and programmes of the state, among other things, in-line with the 5-cadinal broad   strategic objective of the state economic development plan, conceptualized at the inception of this administration.
However, details of the budget shows that in the 2019 fiscal year, the expected total inflow will be N93.81billion; made-up of N69.4Billion from the statutory Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), which represents 73.98 percent  of the recurrent revenue. The independent revenue is projected to be N24.4billion, representing 26.02 percent.
 It is also projected that in 2019, concerted efforts would be made to improve on the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the state.
According to this 2019 election-year –budget, the Economic sector took the highest chunk of the budget with the sum of N47.03billion; Personnel cost got N33.54billion; Overhead cost is N17.4billion, just as the Consolidated Revenue Fund Charges (CRFC) takes N17.4Billion also. The Social sector came next with N17.0 billion. Other allocations included N7.1billion for the Administrative sector and N688 million to Law and Justice.
A number of measures are, however, being adopted by the state to ensure increased internally generated revenue to fund the state’s expenditure profiles for the year. Some of the strategic frame-work for increased IGR includes:
Provision of enabling environment for investors.
Intensification of efforts to complete on-going projects.
Encouragement and giving of support to entrepreneurship development.
Development of human capital.
Development of Agricultural value- chain.
Sustaining value reorientation in the Public Service.
Support growth of SME’s and providing environment for Peace and Security, and Sustaining commitment to the provision of needed     infrastructure.
Presenting what Ikpeazu described as the Abia State 2019 – 2021 Medium Term Draft Estimates, on the floor of the State House of Assembly, the governor agreed with President Muhammadu Buhari (in their respective 2019 State and Federal governments Budget estimates), that the global economic growth projection remained moderate due to the volatility of the international crude oil market and the trade wars between the major world economic powers.
Economy-watchers are of the view that the Nigerian economy shows optimism given the recovery from recession and stability in oil production capacity due to relative peace in the Niger Delta.
Ikpeazu maintains that his government was mindful of those    uncertainties and adopted several strategies to appropriately position the state to take advantage of the opportunities brought by the prevailing realities in the country. These circumstances compelled the state to be proactive, which led to better planning, harder work ethics, prioritisation of state needs and prudence in the management of resources.
 He declared:”Thus, the 2019-2021 Multi-year estimates proposal is carefully packaged in- line with International Fiscal Transparency Principles. These processes adopted have been participatory and inclusive”.
For instance, the state keyed into the Open Government     Partnership with the aim of enhancing efficiency, promote ease of doing business and service delivery. This measure was seen as a painstaking process designed to build the people’s confidence and trust in the government.
 According to Ikpeazu, all these efforts are meant to achieve a strong, diversified and competitive state economy that would provide hope for the ordinary citizens, jobs for the unemployed and peace for sustainable economic development of Abia State.
He explained that in view of the unpredictable variables that affect the receipts from the statutory allocation, the state has made efforts to protect her financial systems by the introduction of several reform measures to strengthen the state financial services and improve the  collection of IGR.
”The draft estimates proposal is intended to strategically strengthen our achievements in areas, such as creating conducive environment for local and foreign investors, providing    opportunities for human capital development, revitalizing social services as well as building critical infrastructure for sustainable development.
“The projects and programmes in the budget are in consonance with the Medium-Term Expenditure Plan and are built around the Five Pillars of Development of this Administration”, he said.
In 2019, focus will be on continuity and sustenance of the gains achieved by this Administration in the areas of agriculture, education, health, infrastructural development and youth/women empowerment”.
Furthermore, the 2019 budget would also focus on some fiscal objectives, including:-
Ensuring expansion of the revenue generation capacity of the state.
Eliminating wastages and other unjustified expenditures not linked to policy objectives and         Ensuring that only Projects/Programmes provided for in the  2019 budget are funded.
 Worthy of note is that the commitment of government to the economic growth and development of the state, as driven by our Five Pillars – including the enablers, have been tangible despite some challenges within the fiscal year.
“This Administration has been able to embark on a lot of laudable projects and programmes that positively impacted on the livelihood of the people of the state. Our performance cut-across    the various sectors namely Administrative, Economic, Law and Justice and Social Sectors.
“In the Administrative sector, for instance, we have inaugurated reforms that have put the people at the centre of governance. Our budget process has involved citizens’ engagement and inclusiveness. The public sector reforms are meant to bring about transparency, accountability and sustainability in service delivery.
“This Administration realizes the important role the civil service plays in the success of any government. In view of this, the state civil service commission was given approval to recruit more than three hundred and forty-seven (347) new officers. In addition, waiver has been given to recruit additional 1,000 candidates into the state public service.
“In the 2019 fiscal year, we shall reinvigorate governance with renewed commitment to people’s well-being through citizens engagement and needs identification in project selection. We shall focus on efforts to sustain measures to improve on our internally generated revenue and encourage various economic empowerment programmes to reduce the level of poverty and unemployment among the youths”.
In order to enhance internal revenue, Government shall develop the informal sector to bring-in more people into the tax net.
 Government will also intensify efforts to promote and realize the Enyimba Economic City project in conjunction with our private partners while putting pressure on the Federal Government to resume work at the Dry Port at Isialangwa.
“It is heart-warming to add that the Federal Government in her 2019 budget proposal said she intends to exploit the comparative advantages of the six geo-political zones and the 36 states of the federation by establishing six Industrial Parks and 109 Special Production and Processing centres across all the109 senatorial zones, including shared facilities.
These clusters will have power, water, and broadband facilities with embedded regulatory services. The clusters will generate vibrant economic activity, stimulate small businesses and create jobs across the length and breadth of Nigeria”.
 Governor Ikpeazu said the challenges ahead in the New Year requires that all of us must work together assiduously to deliver on our promises and commitments.
 “In the Economic sector, we have recorded notable    achievements in the areas of agriculture, commerce, water supply, Small and Medium Enterprises development through Public Private Partnership and in the provision of infrastructures in the state.
On education, the state intends to sustain its on-going free basic education from Primary to Junior Secondary School. It will    continue to rehabilitate and renovate dilapidated school buildings adopting the whole-school- development approach.  The up-grading of Six (6) public secondary schools Two (2) in each of the education zone to model and science schools will be pursued.  We shall continue to build the capacity of the teachers through continuous training and retraining.
Our policies in education so far have raised the enrolment in public primary schools.  She intends to sustain the school lunch programme in the state, which has increased school enrolments and engaged over 5,000 food vendors”.
According to Mr. President Buhari’s 2019 Budget speech of Wednesday,19, 2018, the National Home-Grown School Feeding program is feeding 9,300,892 pupils in 49, 837 schools in 24 states across Nigeria, and empowering 96,972 cooks.
Still on Education, the present Administration in Abia says she will also continue to support and corporate with state- owned tertiary institutions to ensure that they maintain their track-record of excellence. We shall continue to collaborate with Development partners such as UNFPA, UNICEF, governments and other non-governmental organizations in implementing gender programmes”.
The governor, therefore, urged members of the Abia House of Assembly to expedite actions in the legislative processes involved in the passage of the 2019 budget so as to avoid delay in the execution.
Responding Speaker of the State Assembly Sir Chikwendu Kalu promised to give the budget estimate prompt legislative action and commended the governor for presenting a budget that is in-line with international best practices.