Chief Godswill Akpabio
By Okon Bassey in Uyo
For the first time, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, has broken protocol by unveiling the 2013 budget proposal before making same available to members of the state House of Assembly for approval before known to the public.
The governor last week Thursday announced the state’s budget of N459,305,166,710 for next financial year before the state Executive Council (SEC), where the Executive was said to have approved it pending when it would be formerly presented to the Assembly.
The state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Bassey Albert Akpan, and his Information and Communications counterpart, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, while briefing journalists, short after the budget was approved by the Executive, said the draft would be forwarded to state House of Assembly for consideration and approval.
A breakdown of the total amount showed that Capital Expenditure has N340, 515,000,000 or 82 per cent while Recurrent Expenditure will gulp N118, 790,166,710 representing 18 per cent.
Akpan explained that the amount showed a decrease of 12 per cent over the amount approved for this 2012 budget.
He stated that the draft budget tagged: ‘Budget of Consolidation and Industrialisation’, would be hinged on the completion of ongoing development projects, continued provision of basic infrastructure and security as well as implementation of the state industrialisation programme.
He said government took cognisance of fluctuating petroleum prices in the international market, saying that the government would explore internally generated revenue to help in the implementation of the budget.
The finance commissioner hinted that unlike N2 billion budgeted for entrepreneurs for this year, the government has increased it to N5 billion to assist genuine entrepreneurs in the state to expand their industrial concerns.
Akpan, praised the Labour leaders and civil servants in the state for their cooperation with the government in the implementation of budget.
On his part, Umanah said if the budget was passed by the state House of Assembly, the state government would complete and commission such turnkey projects as Tropicana Entertainment Centre, International Stadium, Uyo, Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul (MRO) facility of Akwa Ibom International Airport among others.
Umanah who described it as people budget pointed out that many people-oriented projects would be completed, calling on the people to support government in the successful implementation of the budget.
The Permanent Secretary in Budget Department, Uyo, Mr. Nicholas Ekarika, commended government for the budget and consistently adhering to Federal Government accepted benchmark of 82 per cent for Capital Expenditure and 18 per cent for Recurrent Expenditure.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the governor’s action to make the budget public before presentation to the Assembly may have been the continuation of the fallout of the face-off between the governor and the state Legislature.
It was alleged that Akpabio purposely ignored the Assembly but decided to make known the budget at the public domain due to the failure of the lawmakers to impeach the Speaker, Hon. Sam Ikon.
The speaker was reportedly confronted by the governor during one of the meetings and asked to resign but the Speaker questioned the reason why he should resign, a development which Akpabio declined further comment on.