The All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in Abia State, Chief Ikechi Emenike, has attributed the state’s underdevelopment to poor budgeting.
Emenike told a non-partisan stakeholder forum in Ututu, Arochukwu local government area, that those who run the business had run Abia with low budgets of less than 200 billion naira. This, he says, is insufficient to lift the state out of underdevelopment.
The gubernatorial candidate, who is a development economist, said, “Any budget below 200 billion naira cannot develop Abia.” He said he would find creative ways to improve the state budget to be able to meet the demands of state development to enviable heights.
Over the past three years, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration has produced less than N200 billion in its final budgets with N137.419 billion for 2020, N131.815 billion in 2021 while N157.282 billion was budgeted for the fiscal year 2022. Although this year’s budget saw a 10.81% increase over the 2021 budget policy, it still fell short.
But Emenike, who leads a mass movement “to save and develop Abia”, promised to put in place “building blocks of development” that would put the state on a path of irreversible growth.
Apart from being insufficient, the APC gubernatorial candidate also noted that Abia’s budgets generally do not reflect the needs of those who are meant to be the beneficiaries of government fiscal policies.
“Abia’s budget should have the face of every Abian,” he said, pointing out that “citizens see themselves in the budget of countries where good governance is practiced.”
Citing the plight of workers and pensioners in Abia who are languishing in growing arrears of wages, pensions and gratuities, Emenike noted that the government would not have found itself in such a mess if the budgets were really focused on the people.
He assured that he would find a way out of the quagmire of pension arrears by constituting a committee of pensioners on a rotational basis to manage the payment of pensions and clear the arrears.
The APC Governor’s standard bearer has traveled the world and done business with international financial institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank and other development agencies.
He said he would leverage his experience and international networks to drive economic growth in Abia and build “a first world state in a third world country”.
“There will be economic activities in every local government in Abia,” Emenike said.