Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has signed the state’s N116.6 billion 2016 Appropriation Bill into law, saying the 2015 budget performed optimally in all sectors.
Speaking shortly after assenting to the Bill, the Governor said: “I have just had the honour and privilege of signing into law the last budget that I will be signing in my capacity as the Governor of this state; the 8th budget I am signing into law. This budget provides for a recurrent expenditure of N57.1 billion naira and a Capital estimate of N59.5 billion naira, making a total budget of N116.6 billion.
“I recall that my 2nd budget in 2009 was about N150 billion, and so we have come down from that peak of about N150 billion to a modest budget of N116 billion, that is a huge drop. Now, we have a smaller budget at a time of mounting expectations from the people of Edo State, as we have seen, the reward for hard work is more work, is experienced here in Edo.
“Previous governments that did nothing, the people expected nothing because they had no reputation of delivering anything. Given our track records in the areas of infrastructure across the three senatorial districts, the various sectors, education, health, environment, works and housing, the more roads we built, the more the people expect that we should do more roads, the more erosion problem we addressed, the more other communities that are also affected expect that we should also address their own problem.
“So we are having more demands in infrastructure at a time of dwindling revenue because of the fear of many that they don’t know what the next governor will do. But I am very confident first that by the special grace of God, our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) will produce the next governor and because it is a family tradition, that governor will sustain and build on the foundation that we have laid. We started on ground minus zero, and the next governor doesn’t need to start from ground zero; he will have to build on the foundation already laid and sometimes, laying foundation is far more difficult than building on it.”
The Governor said: “I am convinced that the foundation has been laid, and I believe so firmly that it can withstand even a hundred story building and I know that we have men and women of competence who have imbibed the spirit of the family tradition of the APC which is that government and governance is about the people and the essence of seeking political power is to use it to allocate resources in a way that will deliver the greatest good to the greatest number of people.
“I am very proud to say that when I look at the performance of the 2015 budget on works for example, the budget performed 99% at a time of dwindling revenue. It shows that even in the face of dwindling resources, we had to prioritize and move resources to those areas that we believe would affect the ordinary man in the street.”
According to Oshiomhole, “On healthcare, we delivered about 96% as evidenced by the fact that even in the midst of dwindling resources and at a time that most states are unable to pay salaries, we are not only up-to-date in salaries, we are able to sustain all our capital projects in the beautiful ultra-modern five-star Central Hospital.
“In the Ministry of Environment, the figures show that we performed up to 70%. For those who are familiar with life in Benin, the area that everybody described as ‘mammy-water’ zone where ordinary people like us cannot dare visit. The much talked about Teachers House, today you can drive up to Egor Market on a brand new six-lane road all the way from Oba Market. For those who can remember how the Oba Market was around this time in 2008 to how it is today, I am glad that this government has delivered on that.
“The Benin City Water Storm Master plan project has enabled that possible, because part of the challenge of the past was that previous governments had approached this projects on token basis and during my campaign, I did make the point that the flooding problem of Benin is not beyond solution but that like every responsible government, we needed to adopt a holistic approach, carry out studies, so that on the basis of facts and science, we can approach the solution of the problem without doing guess work. The result is that we are able to channel all the flood water from Adolor that pass through Egor area all the way to around the Teachers’ House to the Benin City water storm that convey all of that water through Ekenwan road, all the way to Ogba river, a distance of about 14 kilometers. So, I am proud of that, and I am convinced that the next governor will just have to face other less challenging areas.”
He added: “On education, we have sustained our red roof revolution and the budget performance is about 85%. That is evident by the fact that we have more primary schools built during the year 2015, more secondary schools built and we have sustained the construction of the university, a new university and other various interventions in the education sector.
“It is easy to sign budget, where the challenge is, is to deliver on the promise of the budget. I am proud that even at a time when many people have given up, Edo State delivered on the critical areas of the capital side of the budget, an average of about 90%. That for me is a positive one.
“We will do everything possible to ensure that the budget we have just signed into law is executed even in the face of the obvious dwindling revenue that are accruing to State Government. With a peak of $140 few years back to a current level that is hovering around $30, this is a sharp drop but as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going and I believe we have been toughened by the challenges we have faced over the past seven years, and working this last mile together, I am confident that we will deliver on our task of taking Edo to the next level.”
He declared: “Let me appreciate you Mr. Speaker and members of the house for the way you rigorously interrogated all the line managers: commissioners and their permanent secretaries to defend their budget, and I want to appreciate you for buying into the vision of the administration that whereas we will want to continue delivering on the capital side, make sufficient provision in the area of works, environment, education and other social sectors, we at the same time ensured that we reduced considerably, the recurrent side from the Governor’s Office down to the House of Assembly and every arm of executive and the legislative arm.
“This we have done to reflect the reality of our dwindling resources. We will cut as much as we can, anything that we can do without so that we can leverage resources we need to deal with those issues we are obliged to address. I am proud to say Mr. Speaker, that members of your house have shown uncommon commitment to service.”
It will be recalled that Governor Oshiomhole had on December 14, 2015 presented a budget estimate of N111.5 billion to the Edo State House of Assembly for consideration and passage.