In 2018, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu raised the expectations of residents, civil servant, pensioners and artisans in Abia State with a promise of a better life and secure future when he presented the estimated budget outlay of N140.9 billion.
The budget christened the budget of “Partnerships and Opportunities” was 28.15 per cent increase over the 2017 outlay of N111.7 billion and was centred on five pillars: Agriculture, Health, Education, Commerce and Industry, Oil and Gas.
It had a recurrent expenditure of N68.4 billion (48.59%). For proper understanding, recurrent expenditure consists mainly of expenditure on wages, salaries and supplements, purchases of goods and services and consumption of fixed capital. The breakdown is as follows:
• Personnel Costs (salaries/pensions) = N32.3 billion
• Overhead Costs (cost of running govt.) = N17.6 billion
• Consolidated Revenue Fund Charge = N18.4 billion
TOTAL = N68.4 billion
The capital expenditure was N72.4 billion (51.41%). Capital expenditure is the money spent by the government on maintaining fixed assets, such as roads, lands, buildings, and equipment.
The summary of the Capital Expenditure is as follows:
Administration Sector – N 5.9 billion
Economic Sector – N51.2 billion
Law and Justice Sector -N379 million
Social Sector – N14.9 billion
According to Ikpeazu, the proposed capital expenditure of N72.4 billion was to ensure that his administration accelerated the completion of on-going infrastructure projects and embark on new initiatives that would deliver immensely on the economic growth of the State.
He said funds from the transfer from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the capital receipts would be used to finance the capital expenditure. The breakdown is as follows:
• Transfer from Recurrent Revenue = N11.6 billion
• Grant from Donor Agencies = N17.6 billion
• Internal Loans = N43 billion
• Other Capital Receipts = N223 million
• Total Capital Expenditure = N72.4 billion
Governor Ikpeazu said the budget would be financed with projected revenue of N80.083 billion from the Federation Account and Value Added Tax (VAT) as well as from independent revenues, aids, grants and credits cash inflow.
According to him, an estimated sum of N29.1 billion would be generated from the IGR while an estimated sum of N50.9 billion from FAAC allocation for 2018. With the inclusion of the capital receipts, the expected total revenue amounted to N97.9 billion.
While presenting the budget, Governor Ikpeazu guaranteed the completion of on-going road projects in the state, especially in Aba and Umuahia and all other parts of Abia State including the new Government House.
He also said that because Aba provides an avenue to improve Abia IGR, the government would reconstruct the roads to boost commercial activities, engage in aggressive infrastructural development in rural communities to create access roads for the evacuation of farm produce to urban centres.
“The government shall further strengthen her Road Maintenance Agency as well as RAMP for regular rural roads maintenance and interconnectivity to ensure ease of transportation of goods and services,” Ikpeazu promised.
“In addition to these, we shall provide a total of 170km link roads to major Economic Zones of the State,” the governor said.
However, an investigation showed that the Abia State Government received the net sum of N88.7 billion FAAC Allocation against N50.9 billion it estimated in the 2018 budget; this made it N37.8 billion in surplus.
With the personnel costs (salaries/pensions) of N32.3 billion captured in the recurrent expenditure of N68.4 billion (48.59%), it is puzzling how civil servants and hospital management board member are owed nine months salaries; secondary school teachers, 10 months salaries; ASUBEB, six months salaries; ASETEC Arochukwu, 15 months salaries; and pensioners 25 months pay.
Except for a few streets not up to 10kms, the 170km link roads captured in the 2018 budget were only constructed and commissioned on billboards and television stations.
The new Government House was not completed, neither were the roads in Aba, Umuahia and the rural areas despite the internal loan of N43 billion budgeted as part of the N72.4 billion capital expenditure.
Instead of development, Aba was submerged by flood while Umuahia, the state capital, looks like Golgotha with nothing iconic except heaps of refuse bins.
Despite the budgeted overhead cost of N17.6 billion, Government House, Umuahia remains in darkness because of lack of funds to buy diesel to power the generating set. Workers hang outside their offices while others, including the Deputy Governor, leave their windows open because of excessive heat.
“If not on lies and deceits where else did they spend the N140.9 billion 2018 budget on?”
“While our members die in droves as a result of non-payment of our pension gratuities and allowances, Okezie Ikpeazu’s government was busy wasting our resources on propaganda, false adverts, and buying of awards.”
An aggrieved pensioner who wouldn’t want his name mentioned said these things to our reporter.
“They used the remaining to write the election result that declared Ikpeazu winner.
“How can Abians vote for a government that has done nothing except impoverishment of its residents?
“They must have kept the balance for election petition tribunal, Appeal and Supreme Courts,” he added.
To be continued…