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Reflection on Ikpeazu's budget of prudence and self-reliance |- By Okechukwau Keshi Ukegbu


There are five elements that constitute a good budget. They are comprehensiveness, knowing your priorities, setting the right goal, staying up to date, among others. These were adequately captured in Governor Okezie Ikpeazu's budget for 2017 which he presented to the Abia State House of Assembly recently.

The budget, christened" Budget of Prudence and Self- reliance", aptly captures the current economic realities of the nation in general and the state in particular. Also, the budget follows a Medium Term Expenditure Framework with a three- year projection (2017-2019) and  complies with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).

In the present economic recession, it is pertinent for states to know their priorities when drawing their budgets.  This has forced Abia State to toe a new direction and adjust accordingly.This new direction demands that the state would balance its priorities against available resources and apply itself to looking inwardly to keep the ship of state sailing. The situation informed the tagging of the budget as "budget of prudence and self- reliance".

The vogue in Abia now is not to pursue many projects rather to prioritise government's spending by focusing on the chosen pillars of development. In this approach, a boost in trade and commerce, agriculture and agro- business would be vigorously pursued. Besides, the efforts of  Gov. Ikpeazu to transform the state to a vibrant small and medium scale manufacturing hub would be stepped up.

From the onset of Ikpeazu's administration, there has been a strong emphasis on prudent management of the state's resources.There has also been strong commitment to plug all leakages through which the limited government's resources leak or are wasted. This has basically informed the intensive and ongoing fight against "the ghost workers syndrome".

Since inception of this administration, a periodic biometric verification of the state workforce has been mounted. This has led to chilling discoveries and has also saved millions for the state.


Ghost- worker syndrome in the state has been as recalcitrant as “Abiku” the Ogbanje child in Wole Soyinka’s poem who kept reincarnating . But thanks to Governor Ikpeazu for sitting on top of the issue. It will be recalled that a Biometric Data Implementation Committee inaugurated by the previous administartion discovered that the wage bill of the local government in the state seemed inflated .Also, the committee then discovered 1, 727 ghost workers on the pay roll of its 17 local government councils.

A breakdown of the figure showed that Aba South council had the highest number of ghost workers with 245, followed by Isiala Ngwa South with 153 of such workers,while Ugwunagbo with 28 ghost workers, had the least number.Others were Ikwuano, 117; Umuahia North, 123; Umuahia South, 101; Isiala Ngwa North, 92; Umunneochi,65; while Osisioma Ngwa had 138 ghost workers.

Another critical area the state is making frantic efforts is its Internally- Generated Revenue (IGR). Any state wishing to survive the economic recession occasioned by the dwidling and fluctuation of the oil economy must boost its IGR. Ikpeazu's administration has been projecting to raise the bar of its IGR to N1.5billion monthly.

Unfortunately, there is a remarkable short fall in Abia's IGR projection last year. But there is high expectations that the state's IGR will improve remarkable this year. The state has set every machinery in motion to achieve this. It has ensured that collection of revenues through agents is a thing of the past as this allegedly facilitates huge leakage between the point of collection and when the revenue gets to governments purse. The state is also making strong efforts to bring every taxable Abian to the tax net; and to develop critical infrastructures that will drive revenue generation.

The state is also working hard to address the factors that militate against tax payment by thye citizens such as lack of adequate information on taxpayers; lack of cooperation from tax payers; lack of uniformity in the incidence of tax;insufficient information on the logic and significance of taxes; inadequate training and preparation of tax inspectors, among others.


All the same, the state did not fare badly in 2016 as it renovated and attractd the re-accreditation of 3 (three) Schools of Nursing and Mid-wifery at Aba, Umuahia and Abiriba . It partnered the MTN Foundation which led to the refurbishment ofmaternity and children wards in 4 (four) General hospitals.Through the state's partnership with the Carter Centre , it was able to meet the World Health Organisation’s conditions on “The Save One Million Lives Initiative”. This stride entitled the state to receive 1M Dollars in grant.

The state was able to equip and upgrade the services offered at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital. The areas of medicine that benefited are the Internal Medicine, Anaesthesia, Surgery, Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology (O&G) and Radiology areas of medicine benefited.

In the current agricultural revolution in the state, the state recorded the following strodes: planting up the 3058Ha fallow land at the Ohambele Oil Palm Estate with 100,000 sprouted Tenera nuts; raising 2million sprouted Tenera nuts at Ayaba Umueze, Osisioma LGA.; initiated action to recover Government’s Oil Palm Estates at Erei in Okon Aku, Ohafia LGA and Ozuitem in Bende LGA; planted 10,000Ha of farm with cassava at Omuma Uzo in Ukwa West LGA; and acquisition of heavy agricultural equipment under agricultural mechanization.

The Made-in-Aba Marketing Campaign got a huge boost as it it attracted orders for made-in-Aba wears.While 18 Secondary Schools in the state have been renovated and provided with boreholes for improved sanitary conditions, the Friends of Abia Adopt A School Initiative (FASAI) has attracted huge patronage as many friends and development partners have constructed new Primary Schools.

The state has completed the Investment House which serves as a One Stop Investment Centre/PPP/Board of Internal Revenue/Bureau of Public Procurement Headquarters complex;realised 20 Housing units and 4 ongiong ones in Isieke Housing Estate; completely renovated the Child/Maternal Healthcare Department at ABSUTH; and renovated the Governor’s Lodge and initiated action on establishing an MoU with a Private Developer for Obuaku City Project.Also a total of 32 roads and 2 bridges have been completed whereas 26 roads are ongoing.

No time is more appropriate for the "Budget of Prudence and Self- Reliance" than in the current economic recession! Thank you Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for your vision.

Ukegbu, a communication strategist writes from Umuahia, Abia State.


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