But recent released information indicates Governors are to spend billions of naira on foodstuffs, vehicles, entertainment, maintenance and others in the 2016 fiscal year, Saturday PUNCH investigation has revealed.
The information is contained in the 2016 budget proposals as presented by many of the state governors.
Deliberations on the proposals are ongoing at the various state Houses of Assembly but some of the copies of the proposed budgets exclusively obtained by our correspondents showed that the governments had budgeted billions of naira for feeding, travels, vehicles, maintenance, allowances and others.
For instance, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State had presented the 2016 budget proposal of N350bn to the state House of Assembly.
A copy of the proposed budget obtained by Saturday PUNCH showed that the government budgeted N13.9bn as overhead cost for the office of the Chief of Staff to the Governor.
A breakdown of the overhead cost showed that N1.4bn was proposed for entertainment and hospitality in 2016 for the governor under the office of the Chief of Staff.
A further breakdown under the sub-head showed that entertainment at meetings would gulp N500m while financial assistance was put at N900m.
Under travel and transportation, a total of N844m has been budgeted with local travel and transport gulping N832m while foreign trips were put at N12m.
The governor’s office is expected to spend N560m on maintenance repairs and services with plant and generator gulping N100m.
In the aspect of other services, the governor’s security vote was pegged at N4bn, while contingency and press/public relations were proposed to gulp N2.1bn and N610m respectively.
For the office of the deputy governor, overhead cost was put at N225m.
In Delta State, findings showed that the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa budgeted N25bn for the running of the Government House.
Meanwhile, the government has been criticised by some residents over some of its appointments and its pace, which has been described as slow.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour Matters, Mr. Mike Okeme, said the N25bn budgeted for the Government House would take care of “repairs, maintenance, logistics, and others.”
Sources said the governor would not likely execute any project because of cash crunch.
A source said, “The man will not execute any project rather; he will keep receiving visitors on courtesy calls as nothing is going on in the state.”
The Plateau State budgeted N8.98bn for the administration of the Government House.
Apart from that, there are some projects the state governor, Mr. Simon Lalong, plans to execute this year, which include the completion of a new Government House, renovation and expansion of the state House of Assembly complex and the renovation and furnishing of the state secretariat.
The Special Adviser to the State Governor on Media, Mr. Mark Longyen, identified other projects to be executed under the budget to include the building and furnishing of a protocol lounge at the Yakubu Gowon Airport, Heipang.
The appropriation bill submitted to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly by the state governor apportioned N66.86bn to administration, N9.89bn to education and N7.419bn to health.
Information about the amount budgeted for the State House, governor’s aides and others could not be ascertained as of the time of filing this report.
The Commissioner for Information and Communications, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Aniekan Umana, said, “We need to look at the budget when the House finishes deliberation on it. As of now, we do not have a budget, what we have now is a proposal; until the House of Assembly passes it into law and the governor gives his assent to it; it is only then we can look at International Statement of Accounting Standard, which breaks down everything.
The Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation and Finance, Mr. Usoro Akpanuso, said work was not yet concluded on the appropriation bill.
The Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akan Okon, promised to get back to our correspondent as he said he was on board a flight to Abuja.
Meanwhile, the Edo State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party has described the state’s 2016 budget as a budget of misappropriation, saying that the state governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, appropriated N10.65bn, representing 9.6 per cent of the total budget to his office.
The party said Oshiomhole’s administration, however, allocated N35m of the N111.50bn budget to the office of his deputy.
The party also accused the state government of neglecting the provision of water to the majority of the citizens of the state by voting a “paltry” N100m for the sector; N300m for agriculture; N5bn for security and N400m for Information and Communications Technology.
Edo State Chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih, who recently spoke to journalists in Benin while analysing the state’s 2016 budget, also accused the governor of voting the sum of N3.5bn to the construction of the Accident and Emergency Ward unit at the Benin Central Hospital.
He, therefore, described the hospital ward project as a conduit that would be used to siphon the resources of the state. Funds were also allocated to the ward in the previous two budgets.
But the Special Adviser on Media to Governor Oshiomhole, Prince Kassim Afegbua, said that the budget was only a proposal and “until it becomes a law, it cannot be commented upon.”
The Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, recently signed the 2016 Appropriation Bill into law following its passage by the state House of Assembly.
The N200.3bn appropriation bill allocated N89.91bn for recurrent expenditure, N11bn for consolidated revenue fund charges including pensions and gratuities, while N99.291bn was earmarked for capital expenditure.
Efforts by our correspondent to get the sectoral analysis of the budget at the Ministry of Budget and Planning were unsuccessful.
A government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ministry had yet to do the breakdown.
The source said, “We have yet to do the sectoral analysis of the budget. It is difficult to tell you which sector has what budget for now.”
However, the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, described the state’s N171.7bn budget as that of “Sacrifice, Restoration and Change.”
El-Rufal said his administration was able to reduce the 2016 recurrent expenditure by 50 per cent when compared to that of 2014.
He said Government House expenses for 2016 are projected at N563.7m, a 70 per cent cut from the N2.1bn that the previous government spent in 2014, “the same year that they appropriated only N300m to Ministry of Health for capital projects.”
The governor had said that the 2016 revenue and expenditure estimates comprise N109.3bn (64 per cent) capital and N62.4 (36 per cent) recurrent components, based on a conservative benchmark crude oil price of about $39.50 per barrel.
El-Rufai said, “The budget proposals restore the minimum of 60:40 ratios in favour of capital expenditure. This is in keeping with our agenda to expand access to education, health care, jobs and security.”
A non-governmental organisation, Policy Alert, has urged the Akwa Ibom State Government to be transparent in its budget formulation and implementation.
Its Executive Director, Mr. Larry Ineme, said an appropriation bill should be an open document and that the legislature should invite members of the public for inputs.
Ineme, who was represented by his assistant, Mr. Tijah Akpan, said in Uyo on Friday that citizens should be able to walk into any budget office and obtain a copy of the document for a cover price.
Commenting on the governors’ budgets, a labour consultant and lawyer, Mr. Femi Aborisade, said it was frightening that the state chief executive officers could budget huge billions of Naira for items that had no positive impact on the lives of the people who elected them.
Aborisade said such items like refreshment, food and sitting allowance, among others, should be ignored now because the nation’s economy could not support them.
He said, “Budgeting for refreshments, food, sitting allowances is not limited to governors. The governors are merely following the bad example set by the Presidency. In a period of economic stress where the bulk of the budgets are to be borrowed, budgeting huge amounts for items that are not necessary reflects the insensitivity and callousness of the ruling class.
“There should be mass peaceful protests against budgeting for refreshments where the national minimum wage is not being paid and several thousands of workers are being sacked.
A poet and social commentator, Mr. Odia Ofeinum, said government budgets in the country had been riddled by corruption.
He said, “Most of the budgets we have had in the Fourth Republic have 60 per cent of waste and corruption. You can remove 60 per cent of the budgets and throw it away and they would not have done lesser than they have done, which tells you that the level of waste in the system accounts for the hogwash we have called budgets.”
He, however, said it would be difficult for Nigeria to get out of this situation “with corrupt persons dictating the affairs of political parties.”
SOURCE: Punch Ng, Reuter
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