When Mr. Udom Emmanuel traversed the nooks and cranny of Akwa Ibom State in the build up to the 2015 general elections, he repeatedly told the people that when voted into power, he will do everything possible to ensure a fulfillment of the noble dreams of the founding fathers.
To achieve the laudable dream of our forebears which was to have a separate State of their own in the South Eastern region, where the abundant natural and human resources will be used in the development of the state and her people, Mr. Udom Emmanuel anchored his vision for the state on a five-point agenda namely, job creation; poverty alleviation; wealth creation; economic and political inclusion; and infrastructural consolidation and expansion.
There is no gainsaying that Akwa Ibom people queued behind PDP during the April 11, 2015 governorship election and voted massively for the candidate with the vision to deliver on the Akwa Ibom dream. With the elections over, the government of Mr. Udom Emmanuel has settled down to the task of fulfilling its promise to the people and has set the ball rolling with the 2016 appropriation law, tagged budget of sustainable development.
A budget size of N423bn is an unambiguous statement of commitment by the State government to meet the aspiration and dreams of the people. With more funds appropriated for capital projects as the case has been in previous years, Governor Emmanuel has left no one in doubt about his noble intentions to ensure sustenance of superior performance in terms of building lasting infrastructure.
With the aim to sustain and surpass the performance of past administrations and rapidly industrialize the state, by creating opportunities for growth and advancement of the people, the 2016 budget therefore, seeks to bring sustainable development in Health, Education, Electricity, Water Supply, Agriculture, Information Technology, Capacity Building, other Infrastructure, Housing, Commerce and Industry, General Administration, Security, Industrialization and other facets of governance.
There is no denying the fact that the N423bn budget size intends to make the welfare of the Akwa Ibom people the centre piece of all government developmental efforts and actions. Bearing in mind the fact that industrialization of the state is central and paramount to the administration, the government has committed itself to completing all viable abandoned projects as well as revive ailing viable industries with the vision of leaving behind no uncompleted project.
Apart from building an enduring infrastructure, the 2016 appropriation captures the dreams of our forebears who in the distant past contributed money for the education of some of our sons outside the shores of Nigeria. Today, the government of Akwa Ibom State under the leadership of Mr. Udom Emmanuel has not only sustained the free and compulsory education policy of his predecessor but has committed a huge chunk of the budget to the education sector with commitment to infrastructure and provision of teaching and learning facilities in schools. This is commendable because, education as a core social sector of the economy remains a pivot on which every human capital development revolves.
However, it is important to note that no matter the good intentions of government, the implementation of the 2016 budget, which is now a law of the land, may be quite challenging in the face of dwindling revenue from the Federation Account. This underscores why the many revenue generating agencies of the state government must rise to the occasion by significantly improving the internally generated revenue profile of the State.
Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government in charge of implementing the budget should avoid wastages and leakages so that more funds will be made available for the execution of proposed projects. Measures should be put in place to ensure that revenue generated are remitted to government coffers, as this remains one of the ways of funding the budget.
Most importantly, the citizens should fulfill their civic obligations- one of which is payment of tax. This is imperative to enable government execute its lofty programmes as captured in the 2016 appropriation law. This way, our collective dream of today and that of our progenitors who wanted a separate state where the resources will be used in the development of the state will be fulfilled.
Above all, it is important to commend the State House of Assembly for a thorough job done to the appropriation act and to also call on them to, in line with their legislative functions, carry out oversight on projects executed by the government under the 2016 appropriation law. This way, the government and the people will have quality for money spent on such projects.