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Imo: Group Slams Uzodimma Over High Spending On Governor’s Office Than Public Sectors

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From Joshua Chibuzo Andrew | Owerri

The Governor of Imo State, Senator. Hope Uzodimma, has been criticized by a civil society organization for prioritizing his office over the state’s social sector budget implementation in the third quarter of 2023.

The group, Policy Alert, in a statement signed by its Programme Officer, Fiscal Reforms and Anti-Corruption, Faith Paulinus, said it was worrisome that expenditure in the office of the governor is given preference over key sectors in the state.

The statement made public after a review of the Imo State Third Quarter Budget Performance Report 2023 (July -September), observed that while the entire Ministries, Departments, and Agencies in the State had only N7.37bn capital release, the Office of the Governor alone had a total expenditure of N11.84bn which is 60.6 percent above what all other sectors in the state received during the quarter.

The group which works to promote fiscal and ecological justice in the Niger Delta, noted that “A trend analysis reveals that the priority given to the Office of the Governor has been unnecessarily high. For instance, for the last three quarters of 2023 (January -September) the office of the Governor has had a release of N31.5bn which is already 95 percent of the N33.1bn budgeted for the office for the entire 2023 fiscal year.

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“If the spending trend continues in the last quarter, there is a strong likelihood that the State Government may engage in extra-budgetary expenses for the office of the Governor.”

While noting that there is nothing wrong in making expenditures to the Office of the Governor if there was a budget for the expenses, the organization said what is worrisome is the total neglect of social sectors which had zero capital release during the quarter.

“It is unthinkable that no capital expenditure was made for the social sector during the quarter. This is the sector that warehouses Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Education, Health, Youth and Social Development, and Women’s Affairs and Vulnerable Groups. In addition, there was also no capital release for Agriculture and food security”.

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Policy Alert called on the state government to give more attention to the social sector in the last quarter of 2023 stressing that for the entire Social Services Sector to get only a capital release of N4.17bn for the three quarters (only 14 percent of N29.74bn budgeted for the year), means that citizens were seriously being starved of social services.

The organization further noted that recurrent spending during the quarter stood at N18.76bn while capital spending was just N7.37bn, and urged the government of Imo State to stop prioritizing recurrent expenditure over capital expenditure.

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