Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State on Wednesday presented a budget estimate of N190 billion (N190,921,464,290) to the State House of Assembly for the 2018 fiscal year.
Tagged “Budget of Consolidation and Continuity III”, it is 45.58 per cent higher than last year’s budget.
About N132.98 billion, representing 69.70 per cent of the total budget, was earmarked for capital expenditure, while N57.943 billion, or 30.30 per cent, is for recurrent expenditure.
Presenting the budget at the House, Mr Okorocha said the budget would not only consolidate his administration’s development efforts but would ensure prudence and efficiency in expenditure programmes.
“This administration intends to use the limited resources at our disposal to achieve maximum impact. We intend to achieve synergy through collaboration and integration of programmes and projects at all levels in order to realise our vision of making Imo better,” he said.
The governor further said that relevant agencies of government would be strengthened for their constitutional responsibilities to ensure monitoring of all programmes and projects.
A further breakdown of the budget revealed that Works and Transport Ministry has the single largest allocation with N39.8 billion (N39,811,300,000), followed by Education with (N13.5 billion) N13,500,000,000.
Agriculture and Environment has N7,622,990,049, while the Ministry of Culture has N440,244,096
Meanwhile, a coalition of pro-democracy groups in the state has formally notified the Police and the State Security Services of plan to hold a peaceful protest from December 18 to 24.
Addressing journalists in Owerri on Wednesday, the coordinator of Imo Peoples Action for Democracy, IPAD, Aku Obidinma, said it applied for security protection to avoid the rally being hijacked by hoodlums.
He said the group did not need to seek police permit for the rally, as the Supreme Court has made it clear that the Nigerian Constitution guarantees the right to peaceful protest.
Mr. Obidinma dismissed an alleged plan by the government to sponsor a counter protest at the same time to commend the governor as the government’s usual ploy of intimidating people.
He vowed that the rally will hold as planned and called on Imo people to massively come out on those days.
IPAD said it is organising the one week rally to protest alleged bad governance in the state.
Governor Okorocha has been engulfed in many controversies, the latest being over his appointment of his sister as Commissioner for Happiness and Purpose Fulfillment.
But speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuamaodo, alleged that the rally was being sponsored by political opponents to portray the government in bad light.
“Let’s wait until that day and see if anybody will protest against the government. This is not the first time people are talking about coming to protest. On that day you will see whether you will see anybody. No Imo man can come out to protest against the governor. For what, for developing Imo?”, he asked
“Is it against the flyovers, roads, quality education, about six inland roads, and other projects that were not there before, is that what you are coming to protest?
“The few dissenting voices, they have access to the media, the core Imo people in the rural areas they don’t have access to the media and for us here those people are our target, we don’t care what one man who wants to run for governorship is doing in the media,” he said.
Mr. Onwuamodo said Governor Okorocha has performed better than all the past governors of the state put together.
“Our work will speak for us. By 2019 I wonder what they will tell Imo. We will brandish our achievements, then they will brandish propaganda. We have been witnessing such things before. About two months ago, a former speaker under PDP was saying that he was going to bring down Imo State. We waited, no Imo man followed him. Not even one person.
The spokesperson of the police in the state, Andrew Enwerem, said he was not aware of the letter by IPAD seeking protection for the planned rally.
“I have not seen such letter and if there is such letter it will be directed to the office of the Commissioner of Police. If there is such letter it has not been minuted to me for my information so I am not aware.”