Dr. Ikpeazu, Abia State Governor

From PETER OKORE, Umuahia

Abia Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, Monday, November 18, 2019, presented the 2020 budget estimate of One hundred and Thirty-Six Billion, Six Hundred and Seventeen Million, Three hundred and Sixteen Naira (N136,617,847,316) only to the State House of Assembly for consideration.

A breakdown of the draft budget showed that the budget is made up of a total sum of N66,802,247,316 as Recurrent Expenditure and a Capital Expenditure of N69,815,600,000 only. It further showed that the Recurrent Expenditure represents 48.90 percent of the total budget, while the Capital expenditure represents 51.10 percent of the Budget outlay.

Presenting the 2020-2022 Medium Term Budget Estimates, christened: “Budget of Economic Repositioning”, on the floor of the State Legislative Chamber, Gov. Ikpeazu explained that the budget outlay is slightly less than the N140,944,885,770 for the year 2019.

According to the governor, the moderate decrease was occasioned by the resolve of his administration to formulate a realistic budget, while working hard to improve revenue generation and expenditure-management-approach. He said in spite of the economic challenges, Abia State government is determined to reposition the state on a new foundation for growth.

He stressed that the state keyed into the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability law as well as the other partnership initiatives with the aim of enhancing efficiency in its financial processes, pointing out that she would continue to sharpen the process of participatory budgeting with the involvement of communities, civil society groups, private sector agencies and other stakeholders.

According to the governor, the draft estimates are intended to strategically strengthen his achievements in a number of 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.

“Our watchword in the 2020 budget implementation shall be Prudence in State Resource Management”, he said.

Ikpeazu further declared:”in preparing this 2020-2022 Multi-year Budget, consideration was given to effective and efficient resource allocation and utilization. Certain things considered include prioritization of peoples’ needs, identification and harmonization of revenue generating windows and re-jigging of Agencies among others. In the 2020 fiscal year, we shall further strengthen Governance with renewed commitment to people’s well-being through intense citizens engagement and Community Needs Identification Initiative (CNII) in project selection to meet the Community Charter of Demand (CCD).”

He said that his focus remains to change the economic development template of the State; and strategic partnerships shall be the fulcrum and main driver of the vision for the year 2020.

Ikpeazu assured that “in 2020 we will work to ensure completion of on-going projects, while re-envisioning new ones that will open new frontiers.” adding that he is determined to eliminate waste and unjustified expenditures that are not directly linked to the policy-objectives espoused in this document. He revealed that in 2019, the state participated in a contest involving the six states in the Eastern parts of the Niger- Delta, in respect of those with the best potential development- plan and came first.

He disclosed that the Partnership Initiative for Niger Delta Development (PIND) is supporting Abia State to develop a 30-year development plan. He said the process is currently on-going, and “we have insisted that every sector and MDA’s shall develop a sector-wide development plan which shall flow from and be linked to this multi-year State-wide development plan”.

Ikpeazu, however, thanked members of the House for their immense cooperation to the executive arm of the government which made it possible for the acceleration of the socio-economic development of the state, saying that he shall endeavour to be prudent in the management of the resources available to the state.

In his remarks, the Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, Chief Chinedum Orji commended the Governor for the timely presentation of the 2020 budget estimate to the House of Assembly and promised that the house will ensure speedy passage of the bill. He pledged that the legislators will complement the efforts of the executive through their oversight functions, and is not meant to witch-hunt anyone but to realize the governor’s goals.