By Gloria Adagbon

 

 

Gov Obaseki handing over the 2017 budget proposal to the Edo state House of Assembly Clerk.

Gov Obaseki handing over the 2017 budget proposal to the Edo state House of Assembly Clerk.

Presentation of the Edo State Budget 2017 took place, a few days ago at the Edo State House of Assembly where all gathered to hear firsthand what Governor Obaseki has in stock for Edo people.

The Presentation which was live streamed on social media and publicized in mainstream media lived up to the expectations. A key objective of the Budget is to consolidate on the program and policies of former Governor, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole’s administration, which Obaseki was part and parcel of.

The 2017 Budget of Consolidation and prosperity is a win-win partnership between the people and government. A fundamental objective is to boost economic growth and development in the State, which were the main thrust of Governor Obaseki’s vision in taking Edo further to the next level.
In pursuance of this vision, Governor Obaseki understudied the critical challenges facing Edo’s economy, its potentials and how best to leverage the state’s resources to achieve the right balance in infrastructure and human capacity development.
The governor placed emphasis on agriculture and agribusiness value chain, entrepreneurship, investments in industries and technical & vocational skills.

The Budget speech highlighted the strengthening of institutions such as the civil service, judiciary and the rule of law, with focus on environmental sustainability and revamping culture and tourism. These are audacious reforms if carried out holistically would birth a new Edo where economic prudence and social transformation will become the order of the day.

Another notable point from the 2017 Budget presentation is the Provisional data on the implementation of the 2016 budget which shows that as at November ending, the performance of the budget stood at 76% and that the budget performance for 2016 anticipated to reach 80%.

Governor Obaseki took bold steps, announcing the policy bedrock of the 2017 budget to rest on Economic Revolution, Infrastructural Expansion, Institutional Reform, Social Welfare Enhancement, Culture & Tourism and Environmental Sustainability. According to him, “these are the pillars which – if pursued with uncommon focus, will help us build a new society, create new jobs, new opportunities and wealth – and usher in a new era of prosperity for all.”

In the Budget speech, Governor Obaseki clearly demonstrated that he had a firm grasp of the past, the present and the future. It is only a man with a clear vision that can correlate the exigencies of the present day with clear pathways of solutions that will undoubtedly turn Edo’s economic fortunes around.

Governor Obaseki also proved to the Edo people that Continuity government was the best choice they made when he listed that Edo State Government’s priorities in 2017 includes a continuation of ongoing Infrastructural projects from 2016 plans. This singular statement will surely lead to greater development and a better Edo  because there is unlikely to be any abandoned projects where continuation of existing ones have been made government priority. In this regard, Edo will continue to witness progress and development seamlessly.

It will be recalled that since assuming office, Governor Obaseki has X-Rayed the length and breadth of strategic areas like Edo Technical College, Edo Secretariat-Palm House, Tayo Apata University, the Lady Mechanic Initiative, Nigerian Union of Teachers among others. These strategic focus on the part of the ‘Technocrat Governor’ may have informed his inaugural Budget as institutional reforming reforms was given adequate attention and much more to achieve optimal service delivery for the people.

In analyzing Governor Obaseki’s 2017 Budget, an unprecedented six key policy areas were carefully chosen to refocus the direction of Edo in the next four years. These policy areas are Economic Revolution, Infrastructure Development, Environmental Sustainability, Social Welfare Enhancement, Security, Law and Order and Culture &Tourism.  These unprecedented steps underscore a government that is ready to take the bull by the horn. It was very wise to  propose a budget size of N150,011,831,079 Billion whilst maintaining a balance of capital to recurrent expenditure of (50%: 50%) in line with government plan to spend their way  out of the recession.

The 2017 Budget proposal to set up a Business and Investment Bureau one-stop shop that will identify growth opportunities and incubate projects will no doubt drive the entrepreneurial and apprenticeship schemes that will put job opportunities in the hands of Edo people. Importantly, the plan is to introduce deliberate steps to improve the ease of doing business in the state, reduce the impediments experienced by business people and appropriate limits which citizens can and should obtain permits such as building approvals, C of O, licences.

Another important highlight is the investment in a 10-20 year Edo State master-plan that  will deliver a modern fit-for-purpose Land Use and Land Management system, reconstruct bad roads, extend roads to remote areas, and build new towns.

One way of determining a serious and committed government is the makeup of it’s plans as contained in Governor Obaseki’s Inaugural Budget particularly addressing the sore Pensions problem that Edo Pensioners encounter. In the Budget, the governor specified his determination to resolve all outstanding pension issues in Edo State, introducing the Contributory Pension Scheme with effect from January 1, 2017, setting aside the sum of N3,179,872,873  for the scheme. Significantly, an additional amount of N6, 034,480,729 has been provided to pay for outstanding gratuities and pension.

As Edo people round off the remaining days of 2016, a surer and more hopeful future beckons. The ingredients used in making the 2017 Budget were carefully sourced and prepared with the best chef leading presentation and no doubt its implementation will be to the letter. And when the ‘best chef’ prepares a meal, it is 100% guaranteed to be sumptuous.
Consequently, Edo people await a sumptuous and improved standard of living with the 2017 Budget. I have no iota of doubt about Governor Obaseki’s capacity to implement the Budget of Consolidation and Prosperity because if 2016 implementation statistics stands at almost 80%, then there is the assurance that ‘Edo’s Best Economic Manager’ will do justice for the people and state.

On the overall, the 2017 Budget speech shows a Governor who is committed to the critical challenges facing the people. He is fully aware, he is sincere and he is committed to tackling the issues head on. An audacious budget in all ramifications – infrastructure, jobs, entrepreneurship, development of new towns, repositioning Edo State as the economic hub of the South- South region, development of rural areas, welfare of the poor and vulnerable in our state with a major focus on the revival of the economy with several interventions to create wealth.

A Budget of Consolidation and Prosperity, is surely a very bold step and only the technocrat and financially prudent Obaseki can take that step.

 

Gloria Adagbon, a Social Media Influencer writes from London.