THE NONSENSE IN CROSS RIVER

4

The state government should do budgets that are implementable

The year 2019 is coming to an end and the N1.043 trillion “Budget of Qabalistic Densification” in Cross River State has not witnessed up to 10 per cent implementation. Last week, Governor Ben Ayade presented the “Budget of Olimpotic Meristemasis” for 2020 which is N100 billion higher than that of last year meant to “shift Cross River from the third world to the first world.” For a state where the annual internally generated revenue is still less than N20 billion you wonder where Ayade expects to manufacture the money to implement his trillion Naira budget.

Giving a breakdown of the 2020 budget last week, Ayade said N911 billion, representing 82 per cent of the total estimates, will be deployed for capital projects while N188 billion, representing 17.2 per cent, will be spent on recurrent expenditure. Meanwhile, traders and civil servants who earn below N100,000 per month would be exempted from paying taxes by the governor who will build some agro-processing industries in 2020 from which the state would earn N380 billion!

Ordinarily, a government budget is an annual financial statement which outlines estimated revenues and projected expenditure for a fiscal year. But Ayade has turned this exercise meant to instill responsible governance into a theatre of the absurd. In 2017, it was “Budget of Infinite Transposition” he gave to the people of Cross River while in 2018, he saddled them with a N1.3 trillion “Budget of Kinetic Crystallization” that was not implementable. And since the pliant Cross River State House of Assembly always indulged his every wish, however outlandish, Ayade has continued with his controversial approach to governance.

However, while the parade of inanity by this governor should be castigated in very clear terms, we need to go beyond the specific instance of silly budget captions to situate Ayade’s effusions as emblematic of a viral decay in the quality of political leadership in the country. When a young democracy begins so early to throw up street level jesters as governors and legislators, it also begins to make alternative leadership models attractive. At best, we have in Ayade and many like him a clear indication that the outcomes of democratic elections in our country do not always reflect the true values of the people or indeed their collective aspiration to a culture of decency.

Even at the level of simple governance, where would Cross River, a semi-rural state with neither industrial nor commercial footprint, get N1 trillion from in a year? In the best of times, the combined internally generated revenue (IGR) plus the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) proceeds accruing to the state is less than N80 billion. So, in addition to the obvious linguistic handicap, Ayade would seem to be also seriously challenged in the area of rudimentary arithmetic otherwise he would not be churning out budgetary numbers that make no sense.

Perhaps we are dealing with someone who sees an entire state and its governance as a complicated toy handed him by democratic providence. To worsen matters, Ayade, who attends lecture at the University of Calabar where he is currently reading law with a retinue of aides and long convoys, is also as erratic as he is intolerant. He is behind the travails of Agba Jalingo, the journalist abducted from Lagos by the police and ferried to Calabar where he is being charged without bail for treasonable felony and terrorism.

The tragedy of it all is that the proud and highly educated and culturally sophisticated people of Cross River State are saddled with this gubernatorial embarrassment. Clearly, this state of decent Nigerians deserves better than having a joker like Ayade as governor.