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By Julius Oweh Last Thursday, 27th of October, 2022 will go down in the annals of the political evolution of Delta State as the day the governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa presented his last budget before the State House of Assembly. It would also perhaps open a new chapter in the history of the state as the day a sitting governor presented the budget before the speaker, should the heavens smile on him, may be the governor to execute that budget in the remaining seven months. As it stands, the incumbent governor shall only execute the budget from January to May 2023, a space of five months. When this reporter was in the open gallery, the House of Assembly was sparely populated by 10.22am. It was around 11.05 am that the speaker, Honourable Sheriff Oborevwori entered the chambers with other members accompanying him and prayers were said. It was the duty of the majority leader Hon Ferguson Onwo to move a motion in their lingoto allow strangersinto the House chamber and the maze, the symbol of legislative authority was lowered. At about 11.11am, the governor walked into the chambers followed by the deputy governor and other top ranking government officials. The governor was bedecked in well tailored suit while the deputy governor wore a white outfit. The business of the day started proper with the rendition of the national anthem. Letters were read about governor intentions to nominate Fred Obey as a commissioner and that of Lawson Efenudu as the executive secretary of the State Bureau for Pension. The speaker of the House, Honourable Sheriff Oborevwori welcome the governor and his members of entourage to the house and that he said it was meant for the presentation of budget estimates for 2023. The speaker commended the governor for the giant strides recorded in the administration in infrastructural and human capital development the past seven and half years. The speaker also spoke about the governors model in entrepreneurship programmes that lifted many youths and women out of poverty, making them employers of labour.
The speaker couched the achievements of the governor in these glowing terms:It is heartwarming to note that many of the beneficiaries have not only become wealth and job creators, they are also helping the state government to train new entrants into the programmes.
The speaker was very grateful to the governor by the way and manner the flood victims were attended to. Listen to Him:Aside providing relief materials to the internally displaced persons through the committee, you strapped your boots and personally visited the camps to empathize with the flood victims. This is leading by example. The speaker promised speedy passage of the budget estimates so that the governor will be constitutionally empowered to implement every letter of the budget.
After the speech of the speaker, the governor proceeded to the dais to give his budget speech at 1131am. The governor after the usual pleasantries took a review of 2022 budget performances. He also said that the 2023 budget was meant to consolidate on the gains of his administration. The state helmsman explained the driving force of the budget :I wish to announce that the projected budget outlay for 2023 fiscal year is N561,820,596,524 (five hundred and sixty one billion,eight hundred and twenty million,five hundred and ninety-six thousand, five hundred and twenty Naira) showing an increase of 17 percent from the 2022 Budget. Essentially, the goal of the 2023 budget is to ensure that the gains of this administration are consolidated and expanded. Ongoing projects must be completed while new ones must come on stream…… It is our reasonable expectation that the 2023 budget will significantly address current structural challenges of the economy, improve the business environment, accelerate economic development, engender inclusivity, promote social harmony, and ensure a seamless transition to a new administration.
The governor gave the sectorial allocations of the budget. He said that N172 billion, representing 53 percent of the capital budget, was allocated to the economic sector while N70.5 billion was allocated to the social sector, the administration sector got N13.34 billion and regional sector, N64.2 billion.
In 2023, we propose to spend N111.4 billion on works, N5.0 billion for urban renewal , Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency, N8.3 billion and Warri Uvwie and Environs Development Agency, N8 billion. Others include N12.4billion on health, Education, N42.6billion, Trade and Investment, N8.4 billion, Culture and Tourism, N2.7 billion and Housing, N10 billion.
The governor also spoke about the other two arms of government – the legislature and the judiciary. Okowa said that most of the achievements of his administration were due to the cooperation he got from the legislators and thanked them for making his job easier. On the judiciary, he promised to continue to defend their independence by attending to the welfare of the judiciary officials. He also said that a new ultra modern court building was in the womb of time and that will be delivered before the end of his tenure. The governor got a standing ovation and he moved to finally lay the budget before the legislators, the representatives of the electorate at 12.25pm.
A motion to accept the appropriation bill for consideration was moved by the majority leader, Hon Ferguson Onwo and was seconded by the minority leader, Honourable Innocent Anidi. The speaker then called on the deputy speaker, Hon Ochor Chris Ochor to move a vote of thanks.
In a vote of thanks, the deputy speaker, Ochor appreciated the governor for his numerous achievements, the budget presentation promising that the legislators shall give speedy passage of the budget. Said the deputy speaker :The year appropriation bill is quite symbolic and historic, both for the legislature and the executive, because this is the last budget presentation in the life of this administration. Haven listened to the presentation by His Excellency, I strongly believe that the budget taggedBudget of Seamless and Stable Transitionwill consolidate the achievements of this administration in the last seven and half years and will lead to a smooth economic transition in 2023. And on this note, I move that this Honourable House, hereby , expresses immense thanks to His Excellency, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa CON for the presentation of year 2023 Budget.


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