From Joshua Chibuzo Andrew
For Commissioners and appointees of government in different Ministries, MDAs, Agencies and Parastatals in Imo State nursing the ambition to divert public funds may need to have a rethink as the State Lawmakers have vowed to meticulously checkmate the inflow and outflow of funds to be allocated to them in the 2024 budget.
This was part of the revelations captured at the passage of the 2024 appropriation budget at the hallowed Chamber of the Imo State House of Assembly.
The concern placed on how the appointees of Imo State government manages funds allocated to their departments may not be unconnected to allegations bordering on diversion of funds and unproductivity.
To curtail or avert a repeat of such scenario, Lawmakers have geared up towards exercising one of their roles of oversighting the activities of these places for service delivery.
Legislators of the 10th Imo State House of Assembly have passed the 2024 appropriation bill into Law after a prolonged session of the reading of the bill from second, third to Committee of the whole House.
Recall that the State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 officially presented the 2024 budget christened “Budget of Renewed Economic Growth” to the State Legislature.
The presentation was marked as House of Assembly Bill No 4; and was deemed to have been read the first time with its presentation at the floor of the House by the Governor.
At the sitting of Thursday, December 14, 2023, the Members gave the bill a legislative attention through its second reading led by the Majority Leader, Rt Hon Kanayo Onyemaechi.
It has a long title, “A Bill for a Law to appropriate the sum of N576,581,347,075 (Five Hundred and Seventy-Six Billion, Five Hundred and Eighty-One Million, Three Hundred and Forty-Seven Thousand, and Seventy-Five Naira) to the service of the Government of Imo State of Nigeria for the year ending on Thirty First day of December, Two Thousand and Twenty Four and for other related purposes. This excluded the Consolidated Revenue Fund Charge of N15,743,247,101 (Fifteen Billion, Seven Hundred and Forty Three Million, Two Hundred and Forty-Seven Thousand, One Hundred and One Naira), hence a total Budget of N592,324,594,176 (Five Hundred and Ninety-Two Billion, Three Hundred and Twenty-Four Million, Five Hundred and Ninety-Four Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy-Six Naira)”.
Leading the debate, the Majority Leader who represents Owerri West State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Kanayo Onyemaechi explained that the Capital expenditure on the budget stands at #474bn, with total recurrent expenditure of #101bn.
He hinted that from the Capital expenditure which is above 70 percent, it implies that governor Uzodimma is poised at the development of Imo State.
Reiterating that Imo is standing on fifteen kilometer radius according to OCDA analysis, the Majority Leader disclosed that with the 2024 budget, it is expected to expand to 18 kilometers radius.
“When you look at the budget, you will notice that the governor is living up to expectations. He is not owing any worker in the State any dime. His Excellency pays promptly.
“Looking at the recurrent expenditure, still, it is for the interest of Imolites. The governor has also promised of bringing FERMA for the maintenance of Imo Roads in 2024”, Onyemaechi added.
The Nkwerre Lawmaker, Barr Chisom Ojukwu in his submission referenced the previous budget through which Imo won the recognition of World bank.
According to Ojukwu, the Capital expenditure in the year 2024 fiscal budget is about 82.9 percent.
He added that as the House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Budget and Appropriation, they will ensure a total compliance to the judicious use of any money allocated to Ministries, MDAs, Agencies and Parastatals.
Hon. Chigozie Nwaneri of Oru East State Constituency submitted that the budget proposal meets the yearnings of ndi Imo, hence, the House of Assembly through its respective committees will carry-out a thorough oversight, and won’t encourage unnecessary waste of funds or laxity.
“As committee on works, we are expectant that the governor will deliver optimally as he is used to”, Nwaneri enthused.
For Hon Gilbert Nwosu of Oguta State Constituency, the 2024 budget is a budget of economic growth.
Hon Udeze Ernest Okechukwu representing Ideato North State Constituency disclosed that the dredging of the Orashi River to Atlantic ocean as has been proposed by Governor Hope Uzodimma is a landmark project that will further position Imo State to World map.
“Having a seaport in the State will further make Imo an industrial hub and boost economic development”, said Udeze.
Lending his voice, Rt Hon Kennedy Ibeh of Obowo State Constituency commended Uzodimma for the frugal management of the scarce resources in Imo.
He stressed that the governor in the 2023 budget tagged budget of Wealth expansion with total of over #474b, and 78.8 percent earmarked for capital expenditure speaks volume, and 2024 will not be an exception.
In view of that, Ibeh opined that the 27 LGAs voting for Uzodimma in the November 11 Guber election was a bold statement of the implicit vote of confidence Imolites have for him.
Other Members who spoke in one voice applauded the Governor for meticulously capturing all the sectors with priority on Security, Health, Education, infrastructure and others.
After deliberations on the Committee of the Whole House, the Appropriation Bill was passed into Law, while the Clerk was requested to prepare a clean copies of the Documents for Governor’s assent of the Law.