Rivers State Awesome Budget Woes in Nigeria
312 billion naira (28 billion USD) capital projects budgeted missing in Rivers State since four years ago. “So much to discover, so little known,” Says Dr. Goodluck Diigbo, the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) Governorship Candidate in Rivers State.
2008 budgeted total capital votes of N312.673 billion, four years later, still no evidence for spending. Also in 2009, Rivers State budgeted over 344 Billion for capital projects, but had failed to provide any detail into actual projects (says NDCBP). Rivers State on the verge of perpetual fiscal corruption. Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State is having hard time explaining the use of fiscal provisions for public projects that are missing. The first supplementary budget application totaling N177.930 billion still have no details about applicability (2008 budget of Rivers State). Rivers State received nearly N1.5 trillion by way of statutory allocation as to N708 billion by former Governor Peter Odili in eight years. (HDPTT, 2011).
The Candidate of Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Rivers State, Dr. Goodluck Diigbo said as governor he would set up new fiscal mechanisms to maximize resources for actual details. “I want to move Rivers State forward and the citizens should not be consumed by past budget misappropriations. Let me be very clear, voters should be not complacent about corrupt practices, by all means, reject corruption, but through the ballot box. The day I am sworn-in, my administration will respond with legitimate decisions and appropriate actions. One of my obligations will be to move Rivers State forward to improve quality of economic planning and welfare of all citizens.”
In a related publication released as the 2009 Social Development Integrated Center (Social Action) report, the NDCBP described the budget of Governor Amaechi as “fast becoming a white elephant project.” NDCBP is the Niger Delta Citizens and Budget Platform. The NDCBP comprises civil society organizations, including NGOs and community groups that promote mass mobilization to combat corruption in public offices in the states and local government councils of the Niger Delta.
The budget report tagged “On the Verge of Perpetual Corruption and Deceit”, the scrutiny revealed how N177 billion was rushed through the Rivers State House of Assembly in 2008; accounting for 50 per cent supplementary of original budget without specific budgetary details or projects or means for accountability. The original figure of N377.081 reflected a total of N312.672 billion (82.90%) allocation for capital votes now declared missing as projects could not be verified as per application.
Governor Amaechi considered as having relationship with militant groups that posed insecurity, except Ateke Tom factor slated for government opposition and security vote utilization. Ateke Tom identified Amaechi as part of the problem, not solution; thus security vote might have primarily been used to pacify a single factor, not other friendly militant groups. Amaechi was part of the Militancy for eight consecutive years as the sole lawmaker, being the Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly. Genuine security vote applicability raises suspicion, which only Amaechi can clear.
MOSOP Media quoting NDCBP publication (PP 33-34 of 2009) of 2008 found that N150 million was allocated to expansion of the Rivers State Central Library and provision of books in the 2008 budget, which had been equally allocated N300 million in 2007. The spokesman for Library said the expansion and books did not happen. Renovation of Family Support Programme (FSP) hostel, Hostel for the Handicapped,, Senior Secondary, Creek Road, Port Harcourt with various fiscal provisions were not carried out during the period. There was no construction of health centre at Mbgoshimini area in Port Harcourt, despite the budgeting of N100 million for the project in 2008 fiscal year. The designated site was overgrown with weeds.
This is backwardness against progress. “I feel citizens of Rivers State lack information and means to hold public officials accountable,” remarked HDP Governorship Candidate, Dr. Goodluck Diigbo. “I pledge that my government will empower citizens to act and would open up government books to reflect the values and principles of the American Presidential System borrowed by Nigeria,” Dr. Diigbo added.