Abia’s 567.2BILLION 2024 Budget

...Budget Of Happiness And Prosperity For All

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On the 12th of December 2023, the Executive Governor of Abia State His Excellency Dr Alex Otti, OFR, presented to the Abia State House of Assembly the 2024 Budget estimate of 567.2 billion. This budget now passed into law by the Abia State House of Assembly is more than 3 times the 2023 appropriation bill (Budget) of 160.5 billion that his administration inherited from the previous administration on the 29th of May.

On the 11th of December, a day before the budget presentation he signed the Greater Aba Development Authority (GADA) bill recently passed by the Abia State House of Assembly into law. The bill seeks to give Aba the commercial hub of the State a special focus in terms of development.

On the 4th of December 2023, a delegation of Bulgarian Diplomats led by the Ambassador of Bulgaria to Nigeria, His Excellency Yanko Yordanov visited Abia State to discuss partnership with the State in the areas of Agriculture, Education, and so on. After a meeting with the Governor, they visited different parts of the State to see things for themselves. One of the areas they visited is the Lokpanta area in Umunneoche Local Government. Before now, that area was a no-go area as criminal elements held sway and made life hell for the people living and plying that route. Gov. Otti has restored safety and security there.

On Wednesday, 29th of November 2023 the Polish Ambassador to Nigeria, Her Excellency Mrs. Joana Tarnawska visited Abia State to seek areas of cooperation between her country and the State. Her visit to Abia State is her first visit to the Southeast.

On the 4th of August, 2023, some top officials of the Hungarian Government led by Gabor Kruss, Deputy Ambassador Embassy of Hungary in Nigeria, visited Abia State to seek areas of collaboration in health, Agriculture, etc. The team later joined Gov. Otti on road inspections in Aba, Some of which have been completed and commissioned for public use.

It is not just private local and international investors that are now rushing to invest in Abia State in the last six months, nations are coming. Gov. Alex Otti, OFR has opened Abia State to the world.

On the 30th of November 2023, Gov. Otti held a strategic meeting with the Education Reform and Innovation Team (ERIT) for the holistic reform of Abia’s Education Sector to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The Education Reform and Innovation Team is a team of educators and professionals who work in the education sector; have been involved in policy reforms; and have understanding of the technology space etc who came together to fix the education sector with practical solutions to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. They have worked with States like Edo State, Lagos State and others. Presently Edo State’s education sector has become a UNESCO model not just for Nigeria but for Africa as well. The Governor simply wants the best for Abia’s Education sector.

They made an engaging presentation to the Governor and other representatives of the Abia State Government. They summarized their presentation in what they called Abia F.I.R.S.T, which is aimed at making Abia State the center for Technology, Manufacturing and Agriculture in Nigeria through education.

They anchored their presentation of transforming Abia’s Education Sector on 7 Pillars: Access and Equity; Teacher and School Leader Development; Curriculum Development; Students and Learning Environment; Technical and Vocational Skills; Tertiary Education for Employability; and Sustainable Structural and Institutional Reforms.

Gov. Otti thanked them for their presentation and pointed out some areas he wants them to further look into. He acknowledged the role of private schools in education development in the State and said that as much as he would want to bring public schools up to speed, he would not want to drive the private schools out of business since the State is running a private sector-driven economy.

Gov. Otti asked, “If we are able to validate a sort of free education or close to free education policy and we are able to fund it, what does it do to the private sector investors who are many in the system? If we do it, do we drive them out of business? That’s not what I want to do. Is there a model that will support them with subvention so that they would continue to operate?”

“It is a private sector-led economy and I want it to remain so. I want the public sector to play a very important role of providing the enabling environment for the private sector. I want equity and access that you talked about.”

In just six months of Governor Otti’s Governorship in Abia State, substantial changes that you can see, feel and touch have been achieved, yet the Governor keeps saying that he is just doing rehearsals.

7 roads have been reconstructed and commissioned – one in Ukwa West Local Government and six in Aba. Over 8 other roads including Port Harcourt Road Aba and the expansion of the Ossah road in Umuahia the state capital to 6 lanes are currently ongoing and at various levels of construction. Potholes are being fixed.

Abia State Specialist Hospital and Diagnostic Center, Eye Center and Amachara General Hospitals Umuahia have been renovated and retrofitted to offer quality and affordable healthcare to Abians.

Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH) which lost accreditation to train medical doctors during the last administration has been renovated and retrofitted, and the lost accreditation restored with an increase in the Institution’s quota to train doctors and House Officers.

Significant improvement has been made in the clearing of refuse dumps that once defaced Aba and made her a reference point for refuse dumps and filthiness. The private sector is now heavily involved in keeping Aba the Commercial hub of the State and Umuahia the State capital clean.

Salaries are no longer paid in arrears as was done in the past but now on the 28th of every. Pensioners now receive their pensions every month. The civil service is being reformed and repositioned for effective and efficient service delivery.

The state is now secured more than ever before. The strategic investment of the government in the security architecture of the State is paying off significantly.

Under the present Government, Enyimba won the Nigerian Premier League. Abians were sponsored to national and international tournaments in Dubai, Uganda, etc where they won gold, silver, and bronze medals for the State. The Enyimba stadium also received a touch of renovation. The State came overall second in the recently concluded National Para Games.

Certificates of Occupancy are now being processed within one month of application.

The Commissioners’ quarters have been renovated and made habitable by the administration of Dr. Alex Otti and most of our commissioners are now living comfortably there.

Some Government Offices and facilities including Emeka Omerua’s Guest House have been renovated, retrofitted and made fit for purpose.

The above is just to mention a few of the many things the administration of Dr. Alex Otti, OFR has done within six months.

The appropriation of 567.2 billion for the 2024 fiscal year has given me more understanding of what the Governor meant each time he describes the myriads of his achievements in the last 6 months as mere rehearsal. From a budget of 160.5 billion inherited from the PDP-led administration that he took over from on May 29th, 2023, to a budget of 567.2 billion for the year 2024, his first ever budget for the State. That is 3 times bigger than the budget he inherited from the previous administration.

According to the breakdown of the budget, 84% is allocated to capital expenditure, while 16% is allocated to recurrent expenditure. Further breakdown shows that education has 20% allocation; works 16.97%; Healthcare (15.04%); Land and Housing (9.9%); Agriculture (5.12%); Finance (5.23); Youth and Sport (3.17) and so on.

With about 475 billion naira to be spent on capital projects, the State is about to be awash with development projects that will have a direct impact on the economic and social lives of the citizens. Abia is already a leading construction site in Nigeria today and with this huge investment in capital expenditure and the restoration of political and economic powers to the LGAs, every part of the State is about to be turned into construction sites.

Many Public Schools and health facilities abandoned to infrastructural decays and dilapidated roads would be reconstructed. Myriads of dividends of democracy delivered to the people. This budget is for both the rich and the poor who will offer one form of service or the other in the execution of the capital expenditure projects as well as the recurrent expenditure.

For the bricklayer, the cement seller, the labourer, the carpenter, the tiller, the welder, the sand and concrete seller, the block moulder, the painter, the wood seller and so on, get ready for increased patronage because your services are required in the building of roads, schools, hospitals and other construction projects across the State.

For the food vendors (Mama Put), transporters and so on, get ready for increased patronage as there are now many mouths to be fed and huge raw materials to be transported from the selling point to the project sites. The same goes for petrol marketers who will sell the fuel to transporters and supply the fuel that will power the earth-moving equipment and other machines for the construction works across the State.

To the business community in Abia, get ready for increased patronage as 567.2 billion will be injected into the Abia economy in 2024. With this huge budget, the purchasing power of Abians would massively increase in 2024 and the State’s economy would be stimulated significantly.

To the clergy and religious communities in Abia State, watch as your tithes and offerings increase as your members will experience abundant economic harvests from the services they will render directly or indirectly and get paid from the implementation of this 567.2 billion budget. When the State creates economic prosperity for the citizens, the religious communities prosper financially as their members will fulfill their financial obligations.

To the Abia State civil servants, you are not left out in the 2024 budget, you are about to receive a welfare package that reflects the present economic realities in the country. You are well captured in the recurrent expenditure of the budget. The reward for your hard work is finally here.

The world is already here in Abia State. It is not just the private local and international investors that are coming, nations are coming for collaborations and partnerships in different sectors. While Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary have arrived, many others are in the queue, waiting for when the workaholic Governor of the State His Excellency Dr. Alex Otti OFR will have the time out of his busy schedule to receive them.

The world has seen the remarkable things happening in Abia State in the last seven months: the infrastructural revamp; strategic institutional reforms; and the political will to rebuild the State from decades of past socioeconomic and political ruins. They are here to set up and tap into the massive opportunities that abound in the State with the city once christened the “Japan of Africa.”

The 2024 Abia State budget now passed into law by the Abia State House of Assembly is a bold statement that the era of childish governance, anchored on parochial interest and piloted by fantastically corrupt individuals has been consigned to the dustbin of Abia’s Political trajectory. In the end, both the poor and the rich will smile to the banks because massive opportunities would be created through the 2024 Abia State Appropriation bill (Budget) for the citizens to prosper and for the government to make massive returns/revenue from the prosperity that it has created.

Nwahiwe Chinonyerem Cleverson.