Tony John, Port Harcourt
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has presented the 2018 Appropriation Bill of N510 billion to the state’s House of Assembly for consideration and subsequent approval.
Governor Wike said the budget, christened “Budget of Consolidation, advancement and empowerment”, would consolidate and advance the State’s investments in infrastructure, education, healthcare, and security, as well as in growing the economy to create jobs and empower the people.
Presenting the budget proposal to the Assembly, on Thursday, the governor said the proposed 2018 State budget has N379, 997, 687, 404.00 as capital expenditure, while N132 billion would be used for recurrent expenditure.
His words, “This gives a capital to recurrent expenditure ratio of 75 to 25 percent respectively. The substantial increase in capital over recurrent expenditure, once again, underscores our commitment to direct substantial resources to the critical growth sectors of our economy”.
Governor Wike further said that the budget would be funded from Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) N40 billion; 13 percent oil minerals fund: N120 billion, VAT: N6 billion: Internally Generated Revenue (IGR): N132 billion, Reimbursements: N70 billion, Domestic/International Credit N70 billion and Capital receipts N20 billion.
The governor stated that a total portfolio of N90 billion and N35 billion have been allocated to the Ministry of Works and the Special Projects Bureau respectively, to fund the delivery of capital projects in the 2018 budget.
He said that the administration is committed to the completion of key projects in different parts of the state. The projects included: dualization of Saakpenwa – Bori road; dualization of Slaughter – Trans Amadi – Garrison road; dualisation of Elelenwo – Akpajo road; dualization of Oil mill – Woji – Elelenwo – Akpajo road, dualisation of Prof. Tam David West (Obiriikwerre – Airport) road; The Andoni – Opobo (Unity) road; and Internal road network in Abonnema in Akuku Toru Local Government Area, Amadi-Ama in Port Harcourt Local Government Area, Okochiri in Okrika Local Government Area, Elele and Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area, among others.
Other key projects also earmarked for delivery in 2018 were: Bonny – Bile Waterside jetty; Mile one market, phase 2; Reclamation works in Abalama in Asari Toru Local Government Area, Ogu town in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area, Bakana in DegemaLocal Government Area, and Ogbumnabali in Port Harcourt Local Government Area; Constituency projects; Real Madrid Football Academy; Luxury living quarters for Judicial Officers from the State, among other projects; and the cinema and restaurant project in the Pleasure Park among other projects.
The governor added: “We shall also start some new projects, including the Women Development Centre, the new world-class international conference centre, and roads.”
On education, Governor Wike said: “We are devoting N50 billion to fund the education sector for the 2018 fiscal year. This sum is N20 billion more than that of 2017. In addition, we have proposed a capital grant of N500 million to each of our tertiary institutions to bolster infrastructural development and improve quality.
” Apart from proposing the sum of N2 billion for the provision of scholarships for critical areas of the State’s manpower needs, we have also proposed to set aside another N2 billion to partner, encourage and support the development of private universities and improve access to tertiary education for Rivers indigenes in the State.”
Governor Wike stated that his administration is providing the sum of N30 billion in 2018 to enhance all aspects of the healthcare delivery system in the State, including the provision of health infrastructure for health institutions, recruitment and training of medical doctors and other healthcare personnel, refurbishing and equipping our primary healthcare centres, providing vaccines for routine immunization against child killer diseases, as well as in carrying out education and sensitization programmes on reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child healthcare.
On Security, Governor Wike said that the State Government will continue to invest heavily in the security of lives and property through the funding of security agencies and provision of logistics for them to effectively secure the state.
He said: “We have also approved the establishment of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps to further enhance the security in the State. When fully established and operational, the corps will have the responsibility to collaborate with the security agencies to combat crime and cultism in our communities and neighbourhoods.
“The State Executive Council has already approved the bill to give effect to this initiative, which we shall soon transmit for the consideration of the House of Assembly and passing into law. The N22 billion we have proposed in the 2018 budget for security operations will also take care of the setting-up and operationalisation of this agency.”
In order to tackle high level of youth unemployment and poverty, the governor said that empowerment has been prioritised in 2018.
Governor Wike proposed N6 billion for employment generation, N7 billion for women development and N2 billion to support youth development.
He added that the state government will inject N1 billion into the state’s Microfinance Agency to provide loans and support the development of small-scale enterprises in the State.
The governor also said that sports development will be funded by the State Government in 2018, noting that the Real Madrid Football Academy will come on stream.
He said: “We will also continue to fund the State’s football teams and support them to win laurels at national and continental for the State. For these and other activities for a comprehensive development of sports in the State, we propose to spend N2.5 billion for fiscal year 2018.”
The governor said that investments in the administration of justice and the justice sector will be sustained, stating that N4.35 billion has been allocated to the law and justice sector.
He said the administration decided to renew and strengthen her partnership with the Church of God in the State by proposing to establish a Trust Fund for the Church to administer to its needs. The sum of N1 billion has been proposed under this budget for this purpose.
Governor Wike said that, in the past two and a half years, the administration has demonstrated that it is committed to solving the problems it inherited and advance the overall wellbeing of the people.
He said: “For us, our State deserves meaningful development and we must, as a Government, continue to do our best to deliver to our people. That is why we are offering a realistic budget for 2018, which takes a balanced and pragmatic approach towards solving the developmental challenges of our State and take it to the next level of transformation”.
“It will be recalled that the State governor proposed a Budget of N470 billion for 2017. The 2017 budget recorded about 74 per cent performance, which was a significant improvement over that of 2016”.
In his remarks, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, assured Rivers people that the State Assembly would continue to support the Executive to deliver the development of the State.
He said an analysis of the 2018 budget showes that the Governor Wike will consolidate on development in different sectors of the State economy.
He further said that the State House of Assembly will treat the budget expeditiously, but added that due process would be followed.
He said: “Only a pathological fault finder will not see the good works of the Rivers State governor. The governor has performed creditably well”.