Every year in Kogi State we hear of billions of Naira budgeted for ministries parastatals and other agencies of government but at the end of the year people are always at loss as to where the money was invested, budgets that were described by the executive in laudatory terms usually result in decreased standard of living for the average person.
Accusations of selective implementation of budgets, late release of capital votes (or sometimes not released at all) and disregard for the appropriation Act have been the norms.
The human being is the purpose, object and end of development and developmental or “budgeting as if the people mattered” properly conceived is a budget of the people, by the people and for the people.
A closer look at the budget speech presented by the Governor of Kogi state Captain Idris Ichalla Wada on Wednesday 18th December 2013 is nothing, but contradiction and un-implementable.
In reviewing the 2013 Budget, the Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, Mr. Idris Miliki – Abdul, said it is worrisome that the state government claims to have spent a total of N443, 449,335 on rural electrification, street lighting and electricification of public buildings which has become a re-occurring decimal in the budgets of the last 5 years. This is so despite the locations of such could not be ascertained by the citizens.
On Transportation, the same speech lied against itself by claiming to have spent a huge sum of N533, 387,143 on Lokoja Township roads. We challenge the government to point out the specific roads were this amount of money was expended in one year alone!
On the Health Sector, we also note the re-occurring on annual basis, the construction of a Modern Medical diagnostic and Imaging center which in 2013 is put at N306,792,448.
Under Education, despite the huge amount claimed to have been spent, there is no mention of any amount spent on the College of Education Kabba.
On Housing Sub sector, if the government claimed to have spent N1.12 billion, and constructed 272 post flooding houses. According to the publication of Tuesday 9th April 2013 in the Nigerian tribune newspaper, the government claimed to have spent N504 million to construct 250 housing units for the same post flooding housing scheme. The question now is where the flood money is donated by Nigerian citizens to alleviate the sufferings of the flood victims for more than 1 year. Again in 2014 budget, an additional post flood housing scheme of N500m without specific numbers of such houses, has been provided for.
In the General Administration, the government claimed to have spent N566,379,634 on purchase of vehicles for Ministries/Departments/Agencies. Another N400m is now budgeting for in 2014 for the same Ministries/Departments/Agencies, when the vehicles could not be physically seen on the streets of the state.
The organization debunks the claim of the construction of a SEMA office complex as nonexistent and part of the corrupt nature of the current administration in the state.
On the Agriculture sector, it is worrisome that the sum of N479m was spent on the Accelerated Agricultural food Production while only 5,000 metric tons of paddy was harvested. Therefore the government is running this programme at a loss, putting into consideration that the government has budgeted another N1,000,000,000 in 2014 for the same programme.
How can this proposed budget 2014 guarantee poverty reduction and wealth creation when the Recurrent revenue is exactly the recurrent Expenditure of N79,606,175,888. While the Capital Revenue and Expenditure is solely based on internal and external borrowing.
Under the 2014 budget, a sum of N3,000,000,000 is budgeted for maintenance of state roads by Kogi State Maintenance Agency.
What is the rationale behind the proposed N2.2 billion expansion and ASPHALT OVERLAY of New Market-Murtala Mohammed –Barracks-kabba junction road, which is to be financed through the N20 Billion Bond? Why do we need borrowing to rehabilitate an existing road?
We also condemn in strong terms the paltry sum of N700,000,000 only for the construction of the all important and escalating-security prone Ganaja Junction fly-over.
On Energy, the 2014 budget have also proposed N100,000,000 for street lighting when it is visible to all that no street light exist anywhere in the state apart from the non-functional ones in Lokoja.
It is very worrisome and disappointing for a government who claim for not been able to implement capital expenditure beyond 18% in 2013, and could not boost of any meaningful project in that year, has gone ahead to proposed N128, 720,397,305 budget without a practical effort to increase its internally generated revenue. It is also on record that this government is insistent on taking N20 Billion Naira Bond without the citizens input on how this huge loan would be expended and no single project has been identified to pay back this debt.
We therefore want to call on the citizens to continue to be vigilant and monitor this unrealistic budget and the attitude of squandering the state resources by the current, non-performing government in the state.
On the part of the Kogi State House of Assembly that has become docile and a willing tool in the hands of the non-performing Executive, through lack of genuine over-sight functions and performance of their constitutional responsibilities, to take the interest of the people which they claim to represent and serve as a guide to all their actions and not personal aggrandisement, as whatever law they make will continue to hunt them in and out of office.
We also call on the general public, individually and collectively, to continue to fight for justice in order not to be a victim of injustice.