By Senator Dino Melaye
If the revelations obtained from the analytical breakdown of Kogi state 2017 budget is anything to go by, then Governor Bello’s administrative policy should best be seen as an economic vampire aimed at draining the state and ushering it to economic desert while emptying the state of its treasury ban.
The appropriation bill which was presented sometimes in December, 2016 by Governor Bello has since attracted plethora of allegations by concerned Kogites and experts who could not watch the broad daylight rape on Kogi state’s collective patrimony.
Having personally x-rayed the budget in view of its symmetrical and disparity with 2016 budget as well as the economic impact of the budget on the people of Kogi state considering the phony and unjustifiable allocations allegedly inputted into the budget for selfish benefits of the people behind the budget it, I consider it germane to lend my voice and make known the result of my weeklong research.
The Kogi state 2017 budget was estimated at One Hundred and Seventy Four Billion, Eight Hundred and Fifty one Million, Five hundred and forty four Thousand, five hundred and twenty three naira (N174,851,544,523) as against the 2016 budget which stood at N99,998,674,261.
While the 2017 budget is higher than 2016’s with over 75 Billion Naira despite the biting economic recession rocking the land, the breakdown of the budget showed that, the recurrent expenditure stands at N58,531,404,254 representing 33.47% and capital expenditure of the budget stands at N116,320,140,269 resenting 66.53%.
These figures as invitingly as they may appear, are however, embellished budgeting system that appears to have failed on arrival. It is void of economic logic and lack the propensity for the needed prosperity.
At the presentation of the 2017 appropriation bill, Governor Bello in a speech to glamourize the over bloated document said “The preparation of this budget was guided by the harmonization of MDAs’ policy thrusts in line with New Direction Blueprint and actual appropriation to ensure that we have a Budget that meets the aspiration of the majority of the people in 2017.”
According to the governor, “Directing capital expenditure on critical infrastructure with special emphasis on the five thematic areas in The New Direction Blueprint, viz: Education, Health, Job Creation and Youth Engagement, Infrastructure and Utilities and Public Sector and Pension Reforms,” the governor said while presenting the budget to the members of Kogi state House of Assembly.
However, the 2017 budget which was tagged the Budget of New Direction appears to have been prepared by confused minds whose demented cranial contents showed their affinity for monetary gain and it is a clear testament of the poverty driven and hardship attracting policy of the present administration in Kogi state. It is the budget of the rich elites.
In what appears to be a total deviation from what the so-called New Direction blue print policy stands for, a close and diligent look into the allocation pattern of 2017 shows that, neither education nor health was the government’s cardinal priority.
Agricultural sector was not also at the centre of the Bello led administration despite the need to diversify the economy as part of measures to cushion the vacillation of the oil price whose impact the country has not recovered.
With the heightened level of poverty in the land allegedly necessitated by unpaid salaries of deserved state workforce, heartless Bello budgeted total of over 24.9 Billion for the running of Luggard House, making it 14% of the total budget but In 2016 budget.
However, estimated 7.6 billion was allocated to the ministry of agriculture in 2017 which stands at 4% of the entire budget yet the government is still deceiving the masses of prioritizing agriculture.
This 4% allocation for the ministry of agriculture is far below the required 10% bench mark of the Maputo Declaration which mandates Federal and state government to allocate 10% of its yearly budget for the agric sector.
While Governor Bello has budgeted 50 Million Naira for his overseas treatment, a crystal look into the budget of the state’s ministry of health showed that, there was zero allocation for the purchase of Mammography Machine with Autopsy Facilities even when it was requested for in the budget.
Mammography Machine plays keen role in x-raying breast for proper medical examination. Meanwhile, Governor Bello also allocated another 50 million for his Local Medical expenses in the same land where medial workers are always on strike for unpaid wages and public hospitals are grossly ill equipped.
Governor Bello earmarked a whooping sum of 250 Million Naira to buy Office stationery and Computer Accessories despite buying the same equipments in 2016 budget with over 169 Million Naira. This is even when majority of the public secondary and primary schools in Kogi state do not have access to functional computers. Bello’s government is squander- maniac in all respect.
Still in 2017 budget, Bello voted 100 Million Naira for an unspecified international training for the government House and another outrageous 100 Million Naira for the fumigation of Luggard House. This is when some Kogites cannot boast of eating once per day due to the poverty driven policy of the present administration in Kogi state.
In the budget under review, in three places, allocations were respectively made for Luggard House security with different nomenclature. While 100 Million was allocated for Security services in the Government House, another 350 Million Naira was also allocated for a fraudulent special Security Expenses for the same Luggard House while 8 Billion naira was voted as Bello’s Security Vote different from the other ones earlier stated.
This is even when the state has not been declared as a war zone state. The security vote for 2016 budget was 4.3 Billion. In Bello, we have a wasteful direction.
It is appalling to note that, Bello budgeted the sum of 350 Million Naira for his wife’s tour under the pretence of allocations to the office of the first lady even though it is a palpable fact that there is nothing called Office of the First Lady in the eyes of our law. Even at national level, the President’s wife is addressed as the Wife of the President. It is a total aberration aimed at merely squandering tax payers’ lean resources.
The budget does not indicate what she intend to do with the money other than tour as there is no breakdown and satisfactory explanations, this therefore made this allocation frivolous, illegal and unjustifiable.
In 2017, Kogi state Government House will use 23 Million naira for the monitoring of youth empowerment and 1.5 billion for unspecified youth development even though there was zero allocations for this in the 2016 budget while another 235 Million naira was also allocated by governor Bello for Kogi United/Confluence Queens FC matches, transfer, Sign-on and Regis, fees of KG4TB. This was still part of Bello’s government house budget which ordinarily should have been under the state ministry of sport’s budget.
Bello’s Passive Deputy Governor will spend 884.7 Million naira in 2017 while in 2016, the sum of 278.1 was budgeted for same. The deputy governor’s budget astronomically increased in 2017 by over 300% in a land threatened with recession and depression.
In the same vein, the 2017 budget allocated over 3.9 billion for the office of Secretary to the State Government but in 2016, the same office was allocated 970.3 million naira. It is a shame and a waste for non revenue generating offices to enjoy such an unjustifiable budgetary increment.
The Office of the state Head of Service was allocated 2.6 billion in 2017 while office of the Auditor General of the state only got 392 million. Similarly, the Ministry of land, Housing and Urban Development was not allocated a single naira for capital project and one wonders what the Housing Policy of this non-performing government is.
While the ministry of finance has over 8.7 billion as its allocation for 2017 as against 129.3 million naira budgeted for the same ministry in 2016, it is worrisome to note that the ministry of Science and technology was not allocated a single naira for capital project in this science driven age but Bello’s Luggard House allocation for refreshment, meals and hospitality was 400 million naira and 120 million naira for what he tagged as Luggard House donations while the same government allocated 1.5 billion for the construction of Mini Town Hall in Lokoja. It is indeed the budget of waste.
Though the 2017 is 75 billion naira higher than the 2016 budget, it is adducible to assert that, the 2017 budget was without Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and it is also disheartening to note that monetary allocations were made without adequate justification for those allocations. Perhaps the budget was put in place as a channel of preparing for 2019 governorship election in the state.
One may also need to ask Governor Bello about the state’s Local Government statutory allocations since May last year even when the 21 Local government areas in the state have no elected Chairmen and Counselors and it is a known fact that caretakers at our various local councils have no constitutional right to award contract.
The over 99.9 billion naira budgeted in 2016 was mere paper work as the state government under Bello got allocations beyond the amount but cannot boast of any identifiable project it executed apart from the dissipated weddings of those in his kitchen cabinet. Indeed, Kogi has entered one chance.
I have taken time out to embark on this figure to figure analysis for the benefit of my beloved Kogites whose collective patrimony has been raped and milked under this economic vampire called administration and it is lucid to conclude that, Governor Yahaya Bello, Edward Onaja and their criminal team should be ready for the EFCC in preparation of their befitting abode in Kuje prison.
Senator Dino Melaye, a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, writes from Abuja