Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa yesterday opened up on the finances of the state, saying that he inherited N637.22billion from his predecessor, Emmanuel Uduaghan.
He called on the people of the state to be ready to make sacrifices to put the state on the path of economic recovery.
Governor Okowa said: “The implication of the above scenario, is that the fund available to run the state is N5.40 billion monthly in the next two years, except there is a significant rise in oil receipts and therefore Federal Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC earnings, as well as our Internally-Generated Revenue, IGR.”
In his breakdown of the debt profile, Okowa disclosed that N98.62 billion is from Revenue Bond and indebtedness to commercial banks while the outstanding contractual obligations stood at N538, 601,962,421.50.
The governor spoke yesterday in Asaba, the state capital, when he addressed members of the state House of Assembly on the floor of the House, on the financial status of the state.
Governor Okowa said that it became necessary to let the lawmakers know the state of affairs in order “to put the Legislature on the same page with the Executive arm of government, so that we can think together, plan together, and tighten our belts going forward.”
Exuding confidence, Okowa asserted that, “I see more opportunities in our current economic predicament than the threats it poses,” adding: “We must muster the resolve and political will to boldly – and decisively – confront the challenges that we face, right the ship of our State and lay a solid foundation of prosperity both now and for future generation of Deltans. It won’t be easy. It is not supposed to be easy. But there is no gain without pain, no prize without a price.
“A good place to start is for us to reject the old ways of doing business. First, beginning with me and this honourable House, we must be ready to make the necessary sacrifices to reduce the cost of governance. Secondly, the endless turf battles and approach to legislative action would need to give way to civility and respect for each arm of government. Thirdly, the House must make laws that protect and promote the interest of the State and our people. Fourthly, we must act with the sense of urgency that our current situation demands, and navigate the ship of state aright.”
The governor told the House that the 2015 budget of N409 billion as passed “has to be reviewed” because it “is no longer realistic in the wake of current realities, which clearly show that our expected revenue is now far below what was projected in view of the declining earnings from FAAC occasioned by the crash in oil prices.”
He assured the House that the administration is “frantically working at putting the necessary machinery in place to boost our IGR, and steps will be urgently taken to plug the loopholes in our revenue collection process. In our land resource management, action will be taken to re-certify Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) beginning with our urban settlements, while MDAs will be made more accountable in the generation of revenue.”
He called for a cordial relationship among the different arms of government, reminding the legislature of their constitutional responsibility “to make laws for the peace, order, and good governance of the State.”
Governor Okowa promised to build a “model worthy of emulation” in Executive-Legislature based on his experience as a former member of the Senate.
Senator Okowa appealed for patience and understanding regarding the suspension of the civil service recruitment, admitting that it was a painful and difficult decision to make, he noted that “we came to this inescapable decision because the entire recruitment exercise was riddled with fraud and corruption as it violated established Civil Service Rules and Regulations. More so, it was not logical that a State struggling to meet its payroll obligation should employ more persons.”
In his remark, the majority leader, Hon. Tim Owhofere thanked the governor for the briefing and promised that the legislature would partner with other arms of government to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.