Ogun State was in the news recently for all the right reasons. It’s been about two weeks since the 2018 Budget of the state was presented to the State House of Assembly by Governor Ibikunle Amosun in a ceremony that was both poignant and significant.
In many western democracies, the presentation of the budget purports an eloquent restatement of the obligations of the state to the citizens and is often conducted in colour and sobriety. An annual event required by law, it encapsulates the deliverables of the government to the governed in all areas of economic interactions and in furtherance of the tenets of the ‘Social Contract’.
On November 21, Governor Amosun, in his characteristic enthusiasm for and faith in a brilliant future, presented to the representatives of the people, the vision of his government for the acceleration of development in all spheres of life in Ogun State, over the 12 months ending December 31, 2018.
A budget footing of N345 billion, approximately $1 billion, is clearly challenging, unprecedented in size and prospects, certain to attract interest and cynicism, open to accolade and criticism. A closer assessment, however, will invariably show that the budget is actually realistic, achievable, doable and could even be pushed further.
Ogun State has undoubtedly been achieving appreciable development in the past half-decade so why present a budget focused on the acceleration of development?
The answer lies in the immediate past.
The government has set itself on a mission to educate its young population, keep its people in good health, utilise its abundant agricultural resources to feed its people and propel industrialisation, enhance environmental quality, renew its urban centres through massive infrastructural investments and ensure security of livelihoods and property amongst other goals. All these were predicated on a diminishing reliance on oil-driven federal allocations and an increasing anchorage on the resources available within the state and the industry of its people.
Unfortunately, a global glut in oil supplies leading to a cataclysmic fall in prices in the course of 2015 led the Nigerian economy into slower growth. In January of 2016, a family chicken bucket at KFC was priced higher than a barrel of Nigerian crude at $25 for the first time since 2003. The newly constituted Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari scrambled to put in place the appropriate policies to keep the economy growing.
Eventually, the economy went into recession by the 1st quarter of 2016 and it was the persistent prudent management of the economy by President Buhari and his team that brought the economy out of recession late in the 3rd quarter of 2017. The economy got some help also from sustained increase in oil production, achieving 1.84mbpd in mid-2017 and steady but modest rises in global oil prices. Of most important is the increased IGR of the state from a low of N700 million per month to an impressive N7 billion (target of N10 billion in view). These and other domestic economic policy initiatives portend robust growth for the national economy in 2018.
Needless to say, the recession impacted growth in the Ogun State economy, slowing down many programmes in Education, HealthCare, Infrastructure, Housing and Agricultural production and so on. It is plausible therefore that the nascent national economic recovery and growth will be sustained hence the imperative for a budget of accelerated development to catch up with the timelines and milestones of the Mission to Rebuild.
It is important to note that the 2018 Budget is more far-reaching than any previous budgets of this government or any other past administrations, not just in size or in scope or in ambition but also in its potential to impact the people as well as the array of top quality partnerships like The World Bank, Samsung Heavy Industries, the GIZ, the CBN and so many others that have committed to support its implementation.
For the first time in its history, the Government of Ogun State is attracting many international funding organisations with lower interest rates i.e. 1-2% with long term tenures coupled with attractive moratoriums. We are committing almost a quarter of a trillion naira to capital projects (imagine the impact on our state economy and youth employment).
Conceivably, the government will sustain its budget performance rate of about 72%. That translates into effective investment of N150 billion – N175 billion into capital stock in 2018 alone, reflecting in the rehabilitation of over 200 kilometres of urban roads, various flyovers and bridges, over 250 kilometres of rural and semi urban roads, schools, hospitals, markets and shopping malls, sporting arena etc.
The 2018 Ogun State Budget commends itself to the unequivocal support of every citizen of Ogun State. In the words of Governor Amosun, “Ogun State has an important role to play in the unfolding story of Nigeria’s economic diversification and we (Ogun State) must not be found wanting.”
In all areas and in all endeavours that promote growth, development and prosperity, we (Ogun State) must be number one.
The future looks bright and promising for our dear state and Senator Amosun must be commended for his audacity of hope. It is therefore important that we maintain the momentum, remain focused, lessen all the noise and distractions (Ariwo ko ni music) with an abiding faith that nothing is impossible if we believe ‘Yes we can’.
After all we are Ogun state.
•Chief Odebiyi is the Chief of Staff to Ogun State Governor and APC governorship aspirant in 2019.
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