Imperative of Responsible Budgeting in Ogun State

Dapo Abiodun

Femi Ogbonnikan writes on the just concluded 2020 Ogun State Budget and Medium Term Expenditure Framework

In an evolving modern democratic world, elected public office holders are accountable to the electorates. This is why the current administration in Ogun state has decided to involve the people in decision-making. Prince Dapo Abiodun, the governor, says it and does it. This rare trait is an embodiment of integrity the Yoruba people often refer to as, “Omoluabi”. In his clear demonstration of ability, rare feat, competence, trust, sagacity, resilience, prudence, resolve and commitment, he hasn’t reneged in his electoral promises to live up to expectations. His social contract with the good people of the state is aptly captured in his vision and mission statement which has undoubtedly and succinctly, translated to improving the qualities of lives, and serves as a beacon of hope of a better future ahead. 

While addressing a mammoth crowd of stakeholders at the grand finale of a “Town Hall Meeting on the 2020 Budget and Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2020-2022”, held in Abeokuta, on October 19, 2019, the governor noted that the current administration was poised to regenerate the Government Reserved Areas (GRAs) across the state, especially with the takeoff project of the urban renewal housing scheme in Ibara, Abeokuta, located in Ogun Central, among other things. 

Abiodun pointed that Abeokuta deserves the priority attentions and that the planned regeneration project would be such that will not be half haphazardly done. The new proposed mass housing scheme, he said, would cater for the teeming populace of the state, and the people that are willing to come, live and invest in the state. 

“We are not here to witch-hunt anybody; we are not here to grandstand, but you all voted us into office to provide good and qualitative governance.

“Our vision is to create focused and qualitative governance, while creating an enabling environment for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to thrive; as fundamental to the creation of an enduring economic development and individual prosperity for the good people of Ogun State.

“We will not abandon inherited projects that have direct bearings on the development of the state”, averred the governor.

Besides, he disclosed that the government had sent a bill to the State House of Assembly for the setting up of the Ogun State Waste Management Agency (OGPWA) to increase the revenue drives of the state government through proper waste management.  By and large, Abiodun underscored the importance of the Town Hall Meeting in all the three senatorial districts which he said afforded the people for whom the government holds their mandate in trust to have a say, especially as it is all about them. Specifically, he said that, apart from the fact that the Town Hall Meeting was a way, to once again, meet with the people of the state, it would also help to achieve a strategic allocation of resources towards the projects and programmes that would have the optimum impact on the people.

Through this process, the governor said sustainable development would be achieved, because the people themselves are the initiators of the development plan. Therefore, it would become easier to sustain and maintain such projects for the continued development of the state, because the people have taken the ownership of the processes and the projects.

The Town Hall Meeting has taken place in the three senatorial districts, with the maiden edition held at Ijebu-Ode (Ogun East) on Thursday, October 10, 2019, followed by Ogun West (Ilaro) on Wednesday, October 16, 2019, and the grand finale at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta.

While lending credence to the desirability and viability of the medium term expenditure framework to the economic sustainability of a state, the Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) to the Governor, Mr Dapo Okubadejo, shed light on the imperatives of the concept as very much in line with the fiscal responsibility act and sets the tone for the preparation of the next year’s Budget. 

According to Okubadejo, who until his appointment was a partner with KPMG Consulting Firm, the medium term framework sets out a policy that encourages state government to develop a medium term plans, about three to four year plans. 

Anchored on the plan, he stated that the individual annual budget would be developed. 

The reason, he adduced, for this is to essentially enable state governments, not think of short term, but to think of longer term. 

“So, that is the reason for that. It is a six-month programme and we don’t want a situation whereby we are not ready to present the budget. Normally, budget should be prepared well ahead of times, so that you will increase your chances of the effective implementation of the Budget. 

“So, the first thing in the medium term sector strategy is to gather all MDAs, the heads of all MDAs to communicate the vision of the government, especially when a government is new so that they are well abreast of the vision; they are very clear about the strategic direction of the new government; they are also in tune with what the new government considers to be its strategic priorities. So, once you understand this, and how the government intends to deliver on these promises, priorities and vision, then, their job will be to go and develop the framework upon which to then, plan and deliver the budget so that the budget is not a budget of “no basis”. All along, budgets are prepared in several methods”, Okubadejo said. 

The town hall meetings with the three senatorial districts, Ogun East, Ogun West and Ogun Central, it was gathered, was to gather inputs, with the vision of the government and the budget, while the planning department will put them together and come up with the Budget. The budget itself, he reasoned, is in line with the process whereby the executives would have to discuss the budget. 

Chiefly at the Town Hall meetings, the traditional institution, political leaders, regardless of their leanings, religious bodies, students’ union movements, trade unionists, road transport workers, market women and men, physically challenged persons, lecturers, teachers, and other critical stakeholders inundated the governor with a torrent of requests for the rehabilitation of all township and rural roads across the three senatorial districts.

The last eight years of the immediate past administration, according to the stakeholders, were full of untold hardships and neglect, without recourse to improving their lots through the provision of basic necessities of life. In the overall, they demanded for the declaration of a state of emergency on all the roads in the state for rehabilitation, without further delay. 

Coming next on the agenda was the issue of security of lives and property. Residents of Ogun Waterside, where kidnap cases have become rampant, called on the state government to make adequate provision in the budget for the procurement of crime-fighting equipment, especially speed boats, patrol vehicles and other gadgets.

Likewise, residents of international border towns and villages in Ogun West district sought the intervention of the state government in tackling the menace of herdsmen attacks on farmers. Not left out, they requested for further placement of premium in the provision of the education and healthcare delivery service in response to ever-growing populace.

––Ogbonnikan is a Media Aide to the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun