Sokoto 2015 Budget in Face of Hard Times

Business, Politics

Sokoto 2015 Budget in Face of Hard Times
By Abdallah el-Kurebe

There are hard times and the times are biting harder by every passing day. As the hard eyes of 2014 closes, the rays of the hard eyes of 2015 are beginning to show.

Sokoto state government has proposed N112.5 billion as budget for the 2015 fiscal year. This is against last year’s which stood at N125 billion and a supplementary budget of N3.6 billion was approved only recently. 
The main thrust of the 2015 budget, which details are yet to be made public, Isa Bajini Galadanci, Commissioner in charge of Ministry for Budget and Economic Planning in the state says, “is to make a shift from teaching people how they can take from government to how they can give themselves and the government.”

Tagged “Budget of Consolidation and Renewal” with N61.7 billion for Capital Expenditure and N50.8 billion for Recurrent Expenditure, he adds that the budget was worked out based on the existing Nigerian economic realities.

“This was occasioned by the dwindling revenue resulting from falling prices of crude oil, which affected the average monthly allocation from the Federation Account.”

The budget is christened “Budget of Consolidation and Renewal” because this is the terminal period of the present administration. There is the need therefore to consolidate on what Wamakko government has done in the past eight years, “especially in the area of welfare to the people in view of the present hard times.” On the other hand, the incoming government would renew what we are doing and move on with it.

But what has the budget for the people of the state? “It entails a lot especially as it relates to the development and improvement of the quality of lives of the people. The government intends to pay a lot of attention to youths and women empowerment; curtail rural-urban drift because we want people to stay in the rural areas and contribute to the economic development of these areas,” Galadanci said.

At the lower level, the budget is aimed at strengthening the three existing agricultural skills acquisition centres that are established to make the rural people self-reliant. “The centres train in the areas of fish farming, poultry and animal husbandry.

“Other non agric areas are motor mechanic, tailoring, tire-mending, welding, carpentry, etc. These are already existing empowering mechanisms that the 2015 budget seeks to strengthen.”

Galadanci told Newswatch that the budget seeks to reduce over reliance on government. “We are trying to help the people to understand that only self-reliance though skills acquisition and engagement in other relative trades could move us out of the present economic doldrums.”

Interestingly, similar centres are being established in the 23 local government areas of the state. The centres are about introducing ways of earnings closer to the people.

“The hard times are biting harder and it is government’s responsibility to create ways of softening the bites of the times,” Galadanci told Newswatch adding, “Provision has been made in the budget where start-up token and working tools will be given to trainees on completion of the skills acquisition.”

In the 2014 budget, provision was made for the 7,000 indigent people to enjoy monthly allowances of N6,500. More have been provided for in the proposed 2015 budget. “The allowance is aimed to put these beggars on our streets back to lives of independence. Government is trying hard to discourage street begging.”

Additionally, the Sokoto Youth Empowerment Scheme (SOYES) has been introduced with 2,400 trained marshals. They are to assist security agents; traffic, vigilante groups, sanitary inspectors, etc. This will assist in reducing youths unemployment and, by implication, mop up the youths that are used for political thuggery.

Galadanci puts the 2014 budget implementation at 50 percent. “The 2014 budget has been implemented for over 50 percent.”

He sees budget as being speculation; expecting what is coming and upon which revenue projections are based by government. “If the projection falls below expectation, performance becomes low and due to the dwindling state of revenue accruals to the state, we have not been receiving what we expected from both our Federal Allocation and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR),” he further told Newswatch.

For Galadanci, the most important thing about the budget is not percentage of implementation but the way it is handled based on appropriation.

“What I am impress about is that the governor is very strict as to the procedure of government expenditure. He is very prudent and does not allow for presentation of shady implementation of government programmes.

Bajini added that the state government was working on other sources for internally generated revenue (IGR) to augment the allocation from Federation Account. This is in order to meet up with the delivery of dividends of democracy to the people.

Posted by Abdallah el-Kurebe