By Polycarp Onwubiko
THERE is no gainsaying the fact that the Governor of Anambra State, Professor Chukwuma Soludo has thought it expedient to review or recalibrate his predecessor’s 2022 Budget ostensibly to align or capture his election manifesto, vision, philosophy and template, taking cognizance of the globalisation and internet communication technology (ICT).
The governor’s Revised Budget, tagged ‘Taking Off from the Blocks’ was presented at the hallowed chamber of the Anambra State House of Assembly. The highlight of the Revised Budget are predicated on the contents of his inaugural speech which include the four pillars of his philosophy of governance namely: robust economic transformation for a new industrial-tech-leisure hub; a comprehensive social agenda for a human capital bank that is productive at home and exportable abroad; governance, rule of law and new value system; and a clean, green, planned and sustainable communities, markets, and cities”.
Shedding lurid light on the imperative of recalibrating the budget Soludo explained: “The purpose of the 2022 revised budget is to reflect current realities, challenges, and priorities of the new administration and ndi Anambra. We are undaunted by the state of the treasury. We have seriously started reforming our system of tax administration to significantly ramp up our internally generated revenue over the coming years. In the meantime, the dire needs of ndi Anambra and our transformation agenda cannot wait.
“We are working on a mixture of financing options (including debt that is ring-fenced to fund bankable projects and /or infrastructure with impacts on the economy) to guarantee efficient and effective service delivery to our people while ensuring fiscal sustainability over the medium to long terms”.
Probably, the most exhilarating aspect of the revised estimate of income and expenditure which budget connotes, is the reinventing of the pragmatic rural development initiative of Governor Willie Obianor’s “Community Choose Your Project” which I described in my earlier piece as “paralleled development paradigm” which had nailed the serial lamentations of marginalisation by many communities in the past military and civilian state governments.
Governor Soludo adumbrated the novel rural development mantra thusly: “Yes, our administration is continuing with the ‘Community Choose Your Project’ initiative of my predecessor and has raised the value of the community projects to N25 million per community”.
In the light of the spectacular raison detre for the recalibration of his predecessor’s budget, it becomes a categorical imperative for the civil servants, public servants, and elected cum appointed public functionaries to adjust their work habit especially in the critical areas of transparency and accountability which remain the hallmarks of good governance.
Mr. Governor has in different fora made it abundantly clear that he has only one agenda in government which verges on placing Anambra State on a higher and sustainable socioeconomic pedestal. Strategising on this pragmatic approach through the annual budgets, the rural areas will be adaptable to business activities which will stem the tide of rural-urban migration that leads to anti-social gambits due to lack of veritable and honest means of livelihood.
In other words, when the rural areas are made to be business-friendly, people can be in the rural areas and engage in profitable production ventures, small scale business outfits that cannot entail huge capital outlay. With measured plans for tackling road infrastructure both in the rural, urban and semi-urban communities, it will be cheaper to transport farm and agro-allied products to the selling outlets and major markets.
Further adumbrating the raison detre of the Revised Budget, Soludo contended inter alia: “As promised, we hit the ground running from day one, putting in 8 hours and 45 minutes in office on the first day, reflecting the humongous challenges facing the state, as well as our full consciousness that ours is an agenda with a deadline. “Our vision is to transform Anambra into a livable and prosperous smart megacity to become the preferred destination to live, learn, invest, work, relax/enjoy…and we have been firing from all cylinders.”
Finally, the aphorism that money is the sinews of war is apposite within the context of the Soludo enlightened governance since public administration has some links with war. The imperative of broadening the base of Internally Generated Revenues (IGR), through digitalisation of revenue payments from markets, motor parks, etc will position the new administration from to transform the governor’s noble dream into reality for total transformation of the living standard of the people and landscape of the state.
It is good that the governor has expressed intention to reinvent Governor Peter Obi’s financial wizardry of “Cash Counterpart Contributions” [CCC] which was one of the secrets behind his remarkable and legacy projects that placed the state above average of other states in the federation. Soludo had intimated thusly: “Our government is very serious in forging new development partnerships with the international development partners, the federal government, as well as the local government. We are reforming our processes and ramping up our active engagements to maximise the benefits of such partnerships. For instance, we have budgeted to meet our counterpart funding requirements to access federal and development partner funds”.