One of the leaders of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers state and its 2015 gubernatorial candidate, Dr Dakuku Peterside, says the 2017 budget presented by Governor Nyesom Wike does not have anything new and is lacking in content and ingenuity, especially as nobody in Rivers State has seen a copy of the 2016 budget.
“The budget speech shows no direction the government wants to go, no new policy, no new initiative and nothing to show that the governor means what he is saying.”
Dr Peterside who stated this in an interview with newsmen at the Port Harcourt International Airport, wondered how the governor could have rated himself on 2016 budget performance when it is only him that has the signed copy in the entire State.
According to him, “Only the governor can wake up and score himself. Commissioners in his cabinet do not have 2016 budget, Assembly members do not have the signed budget, and several attempts by Rivers people to see the budget have met brick wall, even when the governor himself could not produce a copy when asked in a live radio programme.
“How then can we assess his performance, how do we know what was in the budget and how much was budgeted for each Ministry, Department and Agency, how do we track what has been done and not executed? The Governor has made our state a laughing stock.”
The former National Assembly member questioned the governor’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) target “in the face of his own-engineered insecurity that has made businesses to leave the state in droves,” pointing out that it is obvious the governor lacks the capacity to implement the budget.
“His budget speech confirms high level of insecurity in the state engineered by him. With the governor claiming a budget of N15 billion for security in 2017, it proves what we have always said that the state is in reverse gear due to the reckless activities of the governor, who himself has compromised security on several occasions.
“More laughable is the fact that this is the same governor who boasted he would no longer fund security agencies in the state and we hope he is not planning to set up his own private security by arming his thugs. How will he spend the N15 billion without working with the security agencies?
While describing the proposed empowerment and intervention programmes in the 2017 budget as mere cosmetic exercise, he countered that the governor has now realised the importance of education, which he once looked in disdain.
“The allocation to education is interesting, given that the immediate past government spent a lot on educational infrastructure over 8 years and has set a very wonderful record, a feat that will take Wike forever to accomplish. Interestingly nobody knows what the governor budgeted for education in 2016, so it’s difficult to even assess him based on the parameters he set for himself,” he stressed.
Dr Peterside, who is also the Director General of NIMASA, queried the current debt profile of the state, which he described as frightening and observed that there is no provision for servicing the debts in the proposed 2017 budget.
On christening the budget as that of Golden Jubilee, the former APC guber candidate accused Wike of mocking the struggles of Rivers founding fathers, saying the governor has been up and against everything they stood for and reducing his office with his actions and inactions that have made the state insecure and a laughing stock nationally.
He admitted that giving a greater percentage of the budget to capital projects is a step in the right direction but has his fears about sincerity of the governor to implement the items given that he did not show realistically how he intends to fund the budget.
He said Rivers people must rise up and hold this government accountable before she destroys the state.