By Simeon Nwakaudu
Over the last three years, Rivers State has emerged as Nigeria’s most notable reference point on the delivery of quality projects and programmes to the benefit of the people.
The positive developments that have shaped the Rivers narrative flow from the activities and vision of her pro-people leader, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike who elevates the interest of the state above all other considerations.
The phenomenal progress attained by Rivers State under the leadership of Governor Wike can be better appreciated from the average national scenario, occssioned by the abject failure of the APC Federal Government and the APC controlled states.
States can no longer pay salaries of workers, let alone embark on any meaningful project. Even the few projects executed by the Federal Government in other states are denied the people of Rivers State.
In Rivers State, Governor Wike is saddled with the onerous responsibility of developing State and Federal Infrastructure. And by God, he has acquitted himself excellently . He has transformed the state into a huge construction site, with a vibrant economy that is growing faster by the day.
Governor Wike has embarked on the targeted revival of key sectors of the state, with the key goal of ensuring that Rivers people get value for their resources.
RESPONSIVE GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE
Governor Wike inherited a disillusioned governance structure destroyed by the immediate past failed Amaechi administration. Four months salary arrears and six months pension arrears destroyed the functionality of the governance structure in the state.
The immediate failed past Governor of Rivers State threw the state into unimaginable debt to the level that Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi predicted that Governor Wike would not be able to pay salaries, let alone execute projects.
Aside settling the salary and pension arrears, Governor Wike re-positioned and reformed the State Civil Service, strengthening it for effective and efficient service to the state. He restored overhead to ministries which was suspended by the Amaechi administration .
Importantly, the sanctity of the independence of the legislature and the Judiciary have been respected by Governor Wike. The administration introduced financial autonomy for the Judiciary and the Legislature. Both arms are now self accounting.
The State Executive Council has been strengthened under the leadership of Governor Wike to serve the people of Rivers State and prioritise development. The last three years have witnessed the State Executive Council churning out pro-people policies to the benefit of Rivers people.
STRATEGIC BUDGETING AND IMPLEMENTATION
Since assuming the reins of leadership on May 29, 2015, Governor Wike has effectively executed two budgets and is implementing the third budget with strategic interests in effective Mobilization, equitable allocation and prudent management of public finances, building a modern, productive, diversified and competitive economy to create jobs and empower the Rivers people.
Progressively, the Wike administration has ensured that the percentage of funds allocated for capital projects far outweigh recurrent expenditure. This is a strategic move to strengthen the state’s economy.
In 2016, the State Government budgeted N307billion targeted at consolidating on the development gains achieved of the first seven months after the administration inherited a damaged budget from the immediate past failed Amaechi administration. The 2016 budget had N120billion for recurrent expenditure, while N187billion was earmarked for capital expenditure.
Throughout 2016, the administration completed ongoing road projects, initiated and built new roads and other development projects, enhanced the state’s security system and invested in the future of our youth through human capital development and job creation.
Investments were made in the area of healthcare delivery, access to quality education, infrastructure, empowerment through small and medium scale enterprises.
The state’s 2017 budget of N470billion was christened “the Golden Jubilee budget for accelerated development.”
A breakdown of the 2017 budget indicated that the total projected capital expenditure was N329 billion (three hundred and twenty-nine billion naira) representing 70percent, while N141, 000,000,000.00 (one hundred and forty-one billion naira) was for recurrent expenditure.
The 2017 budget was premised on the need to consolidate on the achievements for 2016 and restore the State’s economy back to a sustained growth path and expand economic opportunities for all.
Priority attention were given to the following areas in 2017;
•Security of lives and property;
•Infrastructure development and maintenance;
•Healthcare delivery, and
The Wike administration is operating a 2018 Budget of N510billion. Christened the budget of “Budget of Consolidation, advancement and empowerment”, the budget will consolidate and advance the state’s investments in infrastructure, education, healthcare, and security, as well as in growing the economy to create jobs and empower the people.
The 2018 Rivers State Budget has N379, 997, 687, 404.00 as capital expenditure, while N132 billion will be used for recurrent expenditure. This gives a capital to recurrent expenditure ratio of 75 to 25 percent respectively.The substantial increase in capital over recurrent expenditure, once again, underscores the administration’s commitment to direct substantial resources to the critical growth sectors of the state’s economy.
The three budgets prepared by Governor Wike were created in line with the provisions of the New Rivers Vision Development Blueprint. Rivers people have been directly involved in the preparation of the budgets through public hearings, inputs by lawmakers and contributions by civil society organisations. The budgets have been successful because they emanated from the aspirations and dreams of Rivers people