Appropriation 2012: With 70% For Capital Expenditure, Akpabio Sets Pace In Budgeting Process
Saturday, 04 February 2012 00:00 From Inem Akpan Nsoh, Uyo

CHIEF Godswill Obot Akpabio, Governor of Akwa Ibom State, has the good fortune of being a good talker and a good doer. Fortunate? Yes, because some people actually talk well but are hardly good doers.

But, Akpabio is the type great personality analysts would describe as one who walks his talk. Listen to him talk about his vision for the state they call the promised land and you would be so enthralled that instinctively, you would be tempted to say ‘very well, but easier said than done.’

Try visiting Akwa Ibom State, any part of the state, and you would be so taken in by what you will see that your instinctive reaction again is to debate with yourself whether he hadn’t in fact done more than he said he would do.

There is an ongoing debate among development experts, namely, whether Godswill Akpabio hasn’t actually built all there is to build in the 31-local government state? Perhaps not: indeed, certainly not!

But it just goes to show how much transformation the governor has brought to the state since coming to power in 2007 and how much that feat is widely appreciated.

You would be mistaken if you thought Akpabio would slow down, having achieved so much in the first four years. Recently, the Akwa Ibom presented the 2012 appropriation to the state House of Assembly.

Of the N400billion budget, some N340billion, wait for this, is for capital expenditure! That is 70% of the total budget estimate. This is, to say the least, unprecedented in a country where recurrent expenditure traditionally takes a rather disproportionate chunk of annual budgets, both at the state and federal levels.

Akpabio christened his 2012 appropriation ‘Budget of Industrialization,’ meaning that the focus of his administration this time is to provide the necessary infrastructure for the industrial take-off of the state, hitherto a largely civil service state.

According to the speaker of the state House of Assembly, Sam Ikon, who threw more light on the budget while addressing the press, “budget ratio depends on what the state wants to achieve; if you want meaningful development, then capital expenditure cannot be less than 70 per cent of the total budget.”

Ikon noted that the state’s capital expenditure had to exceed the traditional 60 per cent of the total budget for the 2012 budgetary provisions in order to give fillip to the industrialization policy of government.

Industrialisation is the next natural thing for Akpabio to midwife in his beloved Akwa Ibom State, have provided massive basic infrastructure in the state.

During his first term in office, Akpabio upgraded the infrastructure level of the state by massive construction of roads and bridges that link up the entire state.

His giant strides transcend virtually all sectors including education, health and hospitality business. That the state has become a tourist destination is a statement of fact.

The governor’s sterling performance subsists in the structures that are verifiable, structures with concrete addresses and verifiable timeframe of take-off and completion. All these have been duly acknowledged by all and sundry both within and outside.

The objective of this year’s budget is to create jobs and empower the youth. With industrialisation and jobs, people can happily enjoy the monumental infrastructure that the government in Hilltop Uyo has provided for the state.

Akpabio’s road infrastructure, for instance, is revolutionary. He has opened up all parts of the state. And this is not limited to Uyo, the state capital. It cuts across all parts of the state. His compulsory and free education scheme is working.

He embarked on the programme fully aware that education is the greatest legacy a government can bequeath its citizens.

With the free education, the governor has given Akwa Ibom citizens the best tool to handle existential problems and challenges.

To boost air travel, he has built Ibom International Airport with state-of-the-art navigational equipment and other air-safety gadgets.

With the airport in place, tourists can easily come in and move around the state. The Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre will attract more tourists to the state.

Wittingly or unwittingly, Akpabio may have started a revolution in the budgeting process in Nigeria.

He has demonstrated that the needs of workers and political office holders need not suffer simply because the government plans to spend more money on development than on consumption.

Akwa Ibom workers are among the best remunerated in the country, one of the few groups of state government employees that receive 13th month salary (Christmas bonus), every year and who have since been receiving the national minimum wage. Needless to say, no worker is owed salary in the state.

What that means is that it only requires sincerity of purpose for a government to manage public resources efficiently and effectively. There is no indication that the Akwa Ibom workers will suffer this year, or for that matter, will not receive their entitlements this year because government increased the capital expenditure to 70 per cent from the traditional 60 per cent.

Instead, from the pronouncements of government, even much more will be added to them.

If it can be done in the state, which has less money than the federal government, it can equally be done at the federal level. Thankfully, Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has promised that the 72 per cent recurrent expenditure provided for in this year’s federal budget would be progressively brought down as the years go by.

And given the national outcry against bloated recurrent expenditures in state budgets, which only fuel excessive consumption by political office holders, many believe that sooner or later, the Akpabio revolution in Akwa Ibom will catch up with state chief executives so that enough money will be devoted to development rather than to consumption.

If that happens, the governor would not only have set the pace in infrastructural development, turning a hitherto backward state into a first class destination in Nigeria, he would have equally set the pace in freeing the governance process from unnecessary over-expenditure that only fuels corruption.

Whatever happens, history will certainly remember him kindly.

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