Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has presented the 2023 Appropriation Bill to the State House of Assembly for consideration.
The governor, who christened the 2023 appropriation bill, ‘Budget of Consolidation and Continuity’, said it comprises capital and recurrent expenditure of N550, 666,987,238.00 for the fiscal year 2023.
Presenting the budget before the state lawmakers, yesterday in Port Harcourt, Wike explained that his administration has projected the sum of 350,977,495,537.00 as Capital Expenditure for the fiscal year 2023.
“This amount represents about 63.2percent of the total budget and conforms to our practice of prioritising capital expenditures over recurrent.”
Under capital expenditure, Wike said the state would spend N114,264,480,208 on infrastructure, N36,999,486,717 specifically on education and N31,500,002,023 on health.
“Accordingly, the sum of N114,264,480,208 is provided in the 2023 capital budget estimate to fund the completion of all ongoing roads and other physical infrastructural projects awarded by our administration.”
In the 2023 budget proposal, Wike said his administration has also proposed a Recurrent Expenditure of N175,249,692,497à, representing about 31pecent of the total budget for the 2023 fiscal year.
The governor explained that in 2023, the state would expend N73,460,278,307 on salaries (Ministries/Departments/Parastatals), N7,758,772,851 on new recruitment, N33.6billion on monthly pensions as well as N12billion on gratuities/death benefits.
Wike said the fiscal year 2023 budget is targeted at delivering economic growth, additional infrastructure and prosperity for citizens.
He stated that while no new projects may be awarded, except where such is considered very significant, the administration shall galvanise efforts and resources to complete all ongoing projects so that the new government can start on a clean slate, unencumbered.
The governor said in 2021 and 2022, the state government introduced several fiscal measures, including a moratorium on external borrowing to achieve economic growth, fiscal discipline and financial consolidation.
These measures, according to him, have significantly blocked revenue leakages, improved the state capacity for internal revenue generation and prevented unsustainable deficit financing.
“We have, therefore, resolved to continue with the existing fiscal measures for the year 2023. This means that there would be no increase in tax rates. No new taxes will also be introduced.
“However, we will continue to intensify our drive to significantly improve IGR by expanding opportunities for more investments, industrialization and efficient tax collection.”
The governor disclosed that the state remains determined to reduce its dependence on statutory federal allocations to finance its budget and development.
To this end, he urged other sister states to join Rivers in the struggle to secure the right to impose and collect VAT at the sub-national level.
Reviewing the 2022 budget performance, Wike explained that the approved total budget of the state was N420, 485,053,736.00 only.
He disclosed that by the end of October, 2022, total revenue receipts of the state stood at N321, 250,781,228.91, only about 70percent performance, while, the total receipts from internally generated revenue (IGR) was N112.099billion.
This, according to him, represents 25percent performance above the figure of 2021 for the same period but over 50percent less than the projected sum for 2022.
“The shortfall in IGR is attributed to our inability to collect the projected proceeds from value-added tax following the stay of execution ordered by the Court of Appeal, which we have appealed to the Supreme Court.
“Furthermore, augmentation from the Federal Government accounts for the nominal increase recorded in the allocations from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC). In other words, the 2022 budget performance did not also meet projected receipts from FAAC.
“Nevertheless, the aggregate performance of the budget on the revenue side stood at over 90percent at the end of October 2022.”
Wike revealed that the sum of N5billion has been proposed under Special Projects to introduce and fund a free feeding programme for pupils in state primary schools to increase and sustain enrolments and reduce poverty.
He said the state has further provided N4billion under Special Projects to fund free medical care for nursing mothers and children for the fiscal year 2023.
The Rivers State governor said although this is the last lap of his tenure, the administration was resolved to continue to advance Rivers development and secure its future.
“We are, therefore, poised to use the 2023 budget to deliver more transformative infrastructure and other strategic projects and services and move our dear state closer to the point of self-sustainability.”
The Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, noted that the governor has through prudent allocation of resources put in place a roadmap for the development of the state.
Ibani, who commended the governor for his achievements in the past seven years, noted that his numerous infrastructural projects would positively impact on the development of the state in future.
Stop Speaking On Issues You Least Understand, Wike Tells Agba
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has berated the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba, for exhibiting lack of understanding on how governors plan development projects in their various states.
Wike took the swipe at the minister when he spoke at the inauguration of the 13.86km Rumuodogo 1 and 2 Road in Oluua-Rumuodogo community in Emohua Local Government Area, yesterday.
The Rivers State governor said the minister was wrong when he said that governors were the causes of poverty because they focused on building flyovers, airports and other projects in the state capitals, while neglecting to invest in rural communities to directly uplift the living standard of the people.
“He said governors are the problem, they don’t do rural roads, and I ask him: where and where have you been? You just sit there (Abuja), you’ve not been to anywhere to check whether rural roads are being done or not.”
Wike pointed out that the development plan of his administration was holistic, with critical infrastructure delivered not only in the state capital, but across the 23 local government areas.
He, therefore, advised the minister to take time out, leave Abuja and visit states, particularly, Rivers State to see things for himself.
Wike emphasised that there were quantum projects in rural communities with the Rumuodogo road inclusive, which have improved the socio-economic status of rural communities.
“Come to Rivers State and see whether we are doing roads that will cause agricultural produce to be brought out to the cities or not before you open your mouth. We are not doing roads in the city alone. We are doing roads in all local government areas of the state.”
Wike also challenged some South-South state governors to stop hiding behind the attack dogs they had commissioned to insult him, but should rather come to confront him personally.
“Some people have been sending their people to insult me. I laugh. I hear some people, they call them Akwa Ibom Professionals, they were insulting me. Tell the man who sent you to come out. You are just small kids. I am waiting for the big masquerade. Some people said they are Ijaw professionals. You that is sending them, come out. It is you I am looking for. I am not looking for the small fries.”
The Rivers State governor wondered why those faceless governors were picking offence with him because he thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for releasing the 13percent derivation arrears from 1999 to date.
Wikeexplained that even though he was never a fan of Buhari, it does not stop him from expressing his gratitude to the president for releasing the fund that had helped to finance several projects in Rivers State.
“If they’re not prepared for governance, give up. I am prepared for governance. I was prepared, I’m still prepared; I will be prepared till I leave. How can people talk, simply because I said thank Buhari for giving us money?
“I am not a fan of Buhari. All of you know that. I am not one of those they like. I am not one of those who go to Abuja to see them, but the truth must be told. When somebody has done well in an aspect, you say he has done well in this aspect. You cannot change it.”
The Rivers State governor also said while some of the governors could not withstand the federal might in their states, he was able to withstand the powers that tried to undermine the 2019 election process in Rivers State.
The governor also said, when he thanked Buhari, he did not say that the South-South governors should account for their share of the money they got.
He noted that each governor should know peculiar development needs of their various states and attend to them.
Wike, however, said he was prepared for governance when he took the shot to become governor, adding that he was not handpicked, but entered the race and defeated a sitting governor.
“But let me tell those who are making noise, whether you’re a governor, I don’t care. When I came to run as governor of Rivers State, there was no governor that said I want to put you in office as a governor. I came on my own. God said I want to use you. There was a sitting governor, we defeated the sitting governor.
“Some governors were brought by their godfathers; I never had any godfather that brought me as a governor. The only godfather I had was God, and the people of Rivers State. So, when some governors are talking, they should know those they are talking to; we are not at the same level; and we can’t be at the same level.”
The governor explained that he had always ensured that no project awarded by his administration lasted more than 14 months.
Wike also said that it was worthy to note that Rivers State spent over N5billion to recover the Yenagoa campus of the Nigerian Law School, while the Dr. Nabo Graham Douglas Campus in Port Harcourt was completed within 10 months.
The governor urged Rumuodogo people to vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Siminialayi Fubara and all other candidates in the 2023 general election.
He further charged them to use their votes to punish the party of the former state governor, Chibuike Amaechi, for refusing to construct the road for them.
“A governor then that had all the money refused to do this road. He thinks that people of Rumuodogo will still be backward. God said no, the time has come for Rumuodogo people to be remembered. The time has come that people must know this community called Rumuodogo, and today is your day. Now, you have to pay them back with your PVC.”
Providing a description of the project, Rivers State Commissioner for Special Projects, Deinma Iyalla, said the Rumuodogo 1 and 2 Road was a rural road that has opened up the benefitting agrarian communities to increased economic activities and enhanced property value.
He explained that the road measures 13.86km in length, with width that measures 7.3meters, and had a total of 13.96km length of drains and 17 culverts.
On his part, the Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Dr. Chidi Lloyd, noted that the Rumuodogo 1 and 2 road was a promise made by Wike to two of his political associates who joined him to return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on October 1, 2020.
He pointed out that with the project delivered, Wike had shown that once a need was determined, he awarded the contract, dedicated fund to it, and ensured it was completed on schedule.
He added that this was a leadership style that remained unbeaten.
EFCC Records 3,440 Convictions In 2022
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has declared recording 3,440 convictions on financial and cybercrimes across the country from January to November 2022.
This was made known, yesterday in Kano, by the chairman, Abdulrashid Bawa while delivering a goodwill message to newsmen at the opening of a workshop on Financial Crimes Reporting organized by the EFCC.
The chairman, who was represented by the Kano Zonal Commander Farouk Dogondaji also stated that the commission would work to ensure the enforcement of the Electoral Act as the 2023 general election approach.
“In terms of prosecution of cases in court, I am glad to inform you that, between January and November 25, this year, EFCC recorded 3,440 convictions. The potentials for improvement are good as more ongoing cases are concluded in the remaining four weeks of the year.
“Remarkable as this feat is, we are not resting on our laurels. We believe there is still a lot to be done which is the reason why we are actively seeking the support of all stakeholders, including the media,” he stated.
He also said, “On our part, we are working in close collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and other stakeholders to preserve the integrity of the electoral process. We will ensure that the Electoral Act is fully enforced and those who seek to influence voters through financial inducement are brought to justice.”
He described journalists as critical allies who are at the workshop to improve their capacity to be able to help in the fight against cyber and financial crimes in the country.
Delivering her paper at the workshop on the Challenges of Prosecuting Economic and Financial Crimes in Nigeria, the deputy director, Legal and Prosecution, Aisha TaharHabib gave a breakdown of both civil and criminal convictions achieved by the Kano zone.
She stated that they have had 160 criminal convictions losing only two and 180 civil convictions losing only one in Kano state.
She added that this puts the conviction rates at over 90per cent.
WAD: RSG Assures On Provision Of HIV/AIDS Commodities, Services
As the world commemorates the 2022 World AIDS Day (WAD), the Rivers State Government has reiterated its commitment to the provision of HIV commodities and services towards checking the trend in the state.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, disclosed this, yesterday, in his address to mark WAD in Port Harcourt.
Chike, who emphasised the commitment of the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, towards the health sector, stated that the governor had displayed the same commitment in tackling HIV-related issues.
“The issue of paying and accessing (HIV) drugs in Rivers State, which the Rivers State Government took over for patients to access the drugs, that they won’t have to pay, helped us to achieve what we have achieve in controlling HIV.
“We will not turn our backs from patients who need the drugs”, he said.
Earlier, in his goodwill message, Coordinator of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Rivers State, Dr. Bosede Ezekwe, represented by the WHO Monitoring and Evaluation Officer (M&E) in the state, Dr. Sadique Abubakar, highlighted gaps in HIV inequalities.
Quoting the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Rebecca Moetti’s message for this year’s commemoration, he said, “four decades into HIV response, inequalities persist from the most basic services like testing and treatment.
“For example, HIV prevention programme reached only 40percent of adolescent girls and young women. Only one in three key populations, who are particularly vulnerable to HIV, have regular access to HIV prevention services, and they still face significant structural barriers, including criminalisation, discrimination, and stigma”, he said.
He assured that WHO was ready to partner the state government to enhance HIV/AIDS services in the state.
Also speaking, the Programme Manager, Rivers State Agency for the Control of AIDS (RIVSACA), Dr. Francis Naaziga, highlighted the progress made in the state in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
According to him, “looking at progress made today in Rivers State, in terms of HIV response, looking back at 2018/2019, coming back from the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) Report that puts estimated persons living with HIV/AIDS in Rivers State at over 210,000 persons, and the state with the highest unmet needs, but having implemented the SURGE project, by our last data of June, 2022, we have over 167,000 persons on treatment during the last validated data.
“If you go by our own validated data, the number is much more than that. We have over 2,000 children on treatment. Rivers State has made remarkable improvement in terms of HIV response”.
By: Sogbeba Dokubo
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