SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, NYESOM EZENWO WIKE, CON, GOVERNOR, RIVERS STATE ON THE OCCASION OF THE PRESENTATION OF TO THE 2018 BUDGET ESTIMATES TO THE RIVERS STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ON THURSDAY 11TH JANUARY 2018
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
It is an honourto stand,once again, before this August Assembly, to present our Budget for fiscal year 2018. Before I proceed with my presentation, let me take a moment to appreciate you all for your trust and thank you in return for your commitment to the success of both our administration and the progress of our State.
2. After 50 years of existence, Rivers State should by now be a prosperous land where everyone has access to the good life, where our people can find good jobs or do profitable businesses, and where economic opportunities are available for everyone.
3. But no matter the limitations that have held us back, I have always believed in the boundless potential of our State,and with our human and material resources, a brighter future is possible for everyone. I am sure; all of you also share in this optimism politics.
4. As an elected government the electorates that voted us into power want to see progress rather than excuses. That was why when I became Governor, I promised that it would never be business as usual because we cannot be seen to be doing things the same way and expect different results.
5. Two and a half years after receiving the peoples’ mandate, I feel greatly elated at the achievements we have recorded and the progress we have made as a people despite the many and serious challenges we faced from the very beginning.
6. Over the last two and half years, we have rebuilt and expanded our road infrastructure to an extent never before witnessed in the history of the State. Indeed, we are clearly on our way torealizing our objectives on reducing the existing gap on the provision of road infrastructure for the State.
7. For us, there can be no greater interest than safeguarding the future of our children with quality education.Today, we have stopped our kids from learning in dilapidated school buildings and expanded access to tertiary education.
8. We have made targeted interventions in the various sectors of our economic and social life, including security and healthcare with stimulating outcomes. Today, our State is back to economic stability and reckoned as the most fiscally responsibly State in the country. We achieved this by eliminating wastages and bringing transparency and accountability to the management of public resources.
9. Yes, we cannot achieve every thing we set out to achieve but we are quite satisfied with the responsible and practical steps we have taken in the last few years to achieve our development goals for the State.
10. Mr. Speaker, Honourble members, and distinguished guests. In 2017, the approved total budget for the State was 470,000,000,000.00 (Four Hundred and seventy billion naira only, which was to be financed from the following sources: 2016 closing balance of N16.1 billion,Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) receipts of N23, 000,000,000.00; 13% Mineral Fund of N102, 000,000,000.00; Value Added Tax (VAT) of N16, 000,000,000.00; Refund from Paris Club debts of N70, 000,000,000.00; Exchange gain and capital receipts of 8,400,000,000.00; as well as a credit of N65 billion and an Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N134, 000,000,000.00
11. However, aggregate revenue receipts as at 31stDecember 2017 were N278, 232,272,381.28 only, representing only 69 per cent of total projected revenue. This left us with a shortfall of over N192 billion.
12. The revenue realized in 2017 was spent as follows: N64, 215,507,888.15 on payment of salaries; N12, 534,195,498.00 on Overhead, and N10, 121,800,301.27 on Pensions on the recurrent side. On the capital side, a total of N155, 193,589.025.05 representing 63 per cent of actual receipts was spenT on capital projectst
13. Despite the sharp shortfalls in revenue receipts, we resisted the temptations of funding the budget through borrowing because it would make no economic sense to spend more than what we earned and plunge the State into unnecessary debts.
14. In stead, we were able to efficiently utilize available resources to successfully deliver on most of our projects and expenditure targets for the year. On the aggregate, the 2017 budget recorded about 74 per cent performance, which was a significant improvement over that of 2016.
15. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, although we are making steady, focused and verifiable progress, there are still a lot of work to be done to make Rivers State work better and profitable for everybody. And it is in furtherance of this purpose that I have come to present the budget of our State for this Fiscal Year.
THE 2018 BUDGET ESTIMATES
16. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen; the projected revenue for Rivers State for the 2018 Fiscal Year is N510, 000,000,000.00 (Five Hundred and Ten Billion Naira) only.
17. In assembling this budget, we were guided by the need to consolidate and advance our investments in infrastructure, education, healthcare, and security, as well as in growing the economy to create jobs and empower our people. Hence, it is christened: “Budget of Consolidation, advancement and empowerment.”
18. To this end, the priorities of this budget are aimed at achieving four major goals. First, is to grow and expand the economy to attract investments and create jobs for our people.Second, to strengthen and advance educational opportunities for our children and deliver quality healthcare to all residents.Third, to improve the safety, security and general wellbeing of all Rivers people, including residents and visitors; and finally, to ensure the completion of all ongoing projects that have reached advanced stages of completion.
Financing the 2018 Budget
19. Mr. Speaker,Honourable Members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. The 2018 budget will be funded from the following usual sources:
13% oil minerals fund
Internally Generated Revenue
20. The proposed revenue will be spent as follows:
(a) Recurrent Expenditure – N132 billion
(b) Capital Expenditure – N379, 997,687,404.00
21. 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 our commitment to direct substantial resources to the critical growth sectors of our economy.
22. It is important to note that we have prepared the budget with conservative revenue projections and assumptions, although we still choose to be bullish with our projections for IGR despite our failure to meet the anticipated targets in 2017.
23. Notwithstanding, what we have is a balanced budget that is geared towards eliminating our structural deficits and put our economy on a sustainable growth path by effectively funding the State’s basic priorities.
24. We are worried about the fact that, for now, our IGR can only fund about 30 per cent of the budget. This shows that our economy and rate of development is still too dependent on revenue receipts from the Federation account, which to say the least, is quite unhealthy and unacceptable.
25. Therefore, besides addressing the challenges associated with poor fiscal performance and aggregated budget deficits, we have set for ourselves the task of diversifying our economy, attracting investments and ensuring that IGR forms not less than 60 per cent of the State’s tzotal budgetary purse in the next three years.
26. To this end, we have given the matching orders to the Ministry of Finance, the State’s Internal Revenue Service and all revenue generating ministries, departments and agencies to seal all leakages, improve efficiency and ensure timely collection of all State revenues from all legitimate sources as authorized by State and Federal Laws.
27. With this approach and effective monitoring, we believe that the State’s IGR will greatly improve from this year and onwards and we would sooner than later become a self-reliant, vibrant and self-sustaining economy.
(i) Investment in Infrastructure
28. Mr. Speaker, and Honourable Members, the provision of first-class infrastructure remains the cardinal identity of our administration. The fact that we have done a lot in this area is incontestable. In the last two and half years, we have completed over 380 kilometers of roads, while work on other roads measuring approximately 350 kilometers is ongoing throughout the State.
29. And so, our commitment this year is to sustain the tempo and complete most of the ongoing road projects. Specifically, some of the road projects we intend to deliver this fiscal year, include:
· Dualization of Sapkenwa – Bori road;
· Dualization of Slaughter – Trans Amadi – Garrison road;
· Dualization of Elelenwo – Akpajo road
· Dualization of Oil mill – Woji – Elelenwo – Akpajo road
· Dualization of Professor Tam David West (Obiriikwerre – Airport) road;
· The Andoni – Opobo (Unity) road; and
· Internal road network in Abonnema in Akuku Toru Local Government Area, AmadiAma in Port Harcourt Local Government Area, Okochiri in Okrika Local Government AreaElele, and isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area, among others.
30. Other key projects also earmarked for delivery in 2018:
· Bonny – Bile Waterside jetty;
· Mile one market, phase 2;
· Reclamation works in Abalama in Asari Toru Local Government Area, Ogu town in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area, Bakana in DegemaLocal Government Area, and Ogbumnabali in Port Harcourt Local Government Area;
· Constituency projects;
· Real Madrid Football Academy;
· Luxury living quarters for Judicial Officers from the State, among other projects; and the
· cinema and restaurant project in the Pleasure Park among other projects
31. In addition, we shall also start some new projects, including the Women Development Centre the new world-class international conference centre, and roads.
32. A total portfolio of N90 billion and N35 billion has been allocated to the Ministry of Works and the Special Projects Bureau respectively to fund the delivery of capital projects in this year’s budget.
(2) Quality Education
33. For us, all children deserve quality education that will prepare them for a better future. Our plan therefore is to ensure that every public school is of high quality and we have since started to take the necessary steps to achieve this objective. For instance, last year, we invested significant sums of money to revamp and reposition the education sector.
34. As a result, record number of 180 primary schools was comprehensively rehabilitated to provide our kids with quality education in our public schools. Work on the upgrade, remodeling and furnishing of Government Girls Secondary School, Rumuokwuta in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Bori in Khana Local Government Area, Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema in Akuku Toru Local Government Area, and Government Secondary School, Ogu in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area are almost completed. Renovation and reconstruction work are also ongoing in Bonny National Grammar School, Bonny in Bonny Local Government Area, Government Secondary School, Okarki in Ahoada West Local Government Area, Community Secondary School, Ubima in Ikwerre Local Government Area, WesternAhoada Central High School, Ahoada in Ahoada East Local Government Area, Government Secondary School, Abua in Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Community Secondary School, Bille in Akuku Toru Local Government Area, Model Primary School, Emillighan in Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Model primary School, Mgbosimini, Rumueme in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Model Primary School, Ebara in Etche Local Government Area, Community Primary School, Oroworokwo, as well as Government Secondary School, Onne in Eleme Local Government Area and Government Secondary School, Obuama in Degema Local Government Area.
35. Also, besides paying WAEC fees and underwriting the administration charges of NECO to enable our children to easily register for these examinations,some of the upgraded schools have started receiving supplies of new science equipment.
36. In the same vein, we have done a lot to improve access and quality in the tertiary education sector. Some of our achievements in this regard include, strengthening the legal and regulatory framework of for the Rivers State University, the Ignatius AjuruUniverstiy of Education, the ElechiAmadi Polytechnic and the Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori, providing academic infrastructures and ensuring full accreditation for their programmes.
37. At the Rivers State University we completed and commissioned new faculty buildings for the faculty of Management Sciences and Faculty of Environmental Sciences and released funds for the completion of the Faculty of Science and Technical Education and Faculty of Medical Sciences buildings.
38. This year, we will continue with our push to restore the education system at all levels with new investments. We shall also continue to take steps to identify and address the constraints of the system, including the quality of private schools, teacher-students ratios, examination malpractices, teacher quality, indiscipline and poor work attitude by school heads and administrators.
37. Accordingly, we are devoting N50 billion to fund the education sector for the 2018 fiscal year. This sum is N20 billion more than that of 2017. In addition, we have proposed a capital grant of N500 million to each of our tertiary institutions to bolster infrastructural development and improve quality.
38. Apart from proposing the sum of N2 billion for the provision of scholarships for critical areas of the State’s manpower needs, we have also proposed to set aside another N2 billion to partner, encourage and support the development of private universities and improve access to tertiary education for Rivers indigenes in the State.
(3) Quality Healthcare Delivery
39. Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members, the ongoing restoration efforts of our administration in the health sector have started having the desired impact. The recently reconstructed and re-equipped Abua General Hospital in Abua/Odual Local Government Area is now serving the health needs of our people around that axis of the State.
40. Also, we have almost completed the reconstruction work and awarded contracts to re-equip the 12 other general hospitals in Nchia in Eleme Local Government Area, Isiokpor in Ikwerre Local Government Area, Abonnema in Akuku Toru Local Government Area, Bodo in Gokana Local Government Area, Opobo in Opobo/Nkoro Local Local Government Area, Eberi in Omuma Local Government Area, Buguma in Asari Toru Local Government Area, Okrika in Okrika Local Government Local Government Area, and the Psychiatric hospital, Rumuigbo in in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
41. Furthermore, construction work on the Mother and Child hospital as well as the regional referral hospitals in Bori in Khana Local Government Area, Ahoada in Ahoada-East Local Government Area, Omoku in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, Okehi in EtcheLocal Government Area and Degemain Degema Local Government Area as well as the doctors’ quarters at Old GRA Port Harcourt have reached advanced stages of completion. The same is true of the upgrading and re-equipping of the orthopaedic ward at the Braithwaite Memorial Hospital, which has been designated to serve as teaching hospital for the medical students at the Rivers State University.
42. This fiscal year, our plan is to complete all ongoing projects in the health sector to boost the provision of health services in the State. We also intend to reconstruct, equip and ensure the full accreditation of programmes in the Rivers State College of Health Science and Technology as well as the School of Nursing.
43. All things being equal, we shall also finalize the legal framework for the introduction of the contributory health insurance scheme to enhance access to health services for all residents who subscribes to the proposed scheme.
44. Consequently, we are providing the sum of N30 billion to enhance all aspects of the healthcare delivery system in the State, including the provision of health infrastructure for health institutions, recruitment and training of medical doctors and other healthcare personnel, refurbishing and equipping our primary healthcare centres, providing vaccines for routine immunization against child killer diseases, as well as in carrying out education and sensitization programmes on reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child healthcare.
(4) Provision of Security
45. Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members, our commitment towards keeping Rivers State peaceful, safe and secure for all residents remains very strong. To this end, we will continue to prioritize the provision of security and confront those who dare to undermine our resolve and efforts in this regard.
46. Consequently, we shall continue to invest in providing material and logistical support, including purchasing additional patrol vehicles and other equipment, for the security agencies to enforce the law and secure the State. We have therefore made significant provisions in the 2018 budget to enable us discharge our security responsibilities to the law enforcement agencies and the people of Rivers State.
47. We have also approved the establishment of the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps to further enhance the security in the State. When fully established and operational, the corps will have the responsibility to collaborate with the security agencies to combat crime and cultism in our communities and neighbourhoods. The State Executive Council has already approved the bill to give effect to this initiative, which we shall soon transmit for the consideration of the House of Assembly and passing into law. The N22 billion we have proposed in the 2018 budget for security operations will also take care of the setting-up and operationalization of this agency.
(5) Empowerment programmes
50. Mr, Speaker, Honourable Members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen; we are highly worried about the high level of youth unemployment and poverty among our people. We have accordingly decided to prioritize empowerment and poverty reduction in the State through multi-dimensional approach.
51. First of all, we consider technical education as an important tool to empower and occupy our youths in productive ventures. Therefore, we shall encourage our youth to embrace technical and vocational education to acquire the skills they need to help themselves economically.
52. We are also introducing a programme that will require all companies handling major government projects to engage a certain number of unemployed youths on every project site to enable them to get hands-on training and experience to become qualified artisans to support the delivery of our numerous infrastructure projects while earning income during the construction period.
53. As you know, the economic prosperity of the State depends on the development of small and medium scale enterprises. Therefore, in addition to the opportunity of accessing credit facilities from the State’s Microfinance Agency at low interest rates for small-scale enterprises, we are going to introduce various economic stimulus packages to create wealth and a lift our people out of poverty.
54. We also intend to start the development of the proposed Women Development Centre to advance the empowerment and economic growth of our women.
55. We shall also encourage, attract and support investors to establish businesses in the various sectors of our economy, including agriculture, energy, oil and gas, real estate and manufacturing to create jobs and other economic opportunities for our people.
56. Accordingly, we have proposed N6 billion for employment generation, N7 billion for women development and N2 billion to support youth development. In additional we will inject N1 billion into the State’s Microfinance Agency to provide loans and support the development of small-scale enterprises in the State.
(6) CULTURE AND TOURISM
57. Rivers State is an acknowledged home of culture. In the past there was the annual cultural festival, also known as CarniRiv, which was rested few years ago. However, our cultural heritage was on display during the State’s golden jubilee celebration. It is therefore our intention to revive and advance the State’s social economy through culture and tourism going forward.
58. This we will do by reviving the annual cultural festival as well as hosting national and international cultural events. Already, the State has been granted the right to host this year’s national cultural festival in October 2018. We shall also endeavor to complete the abandoned State’s centre for arts and culture in Port Harcourt to enhance the development of arts, entertainment and culture in the State.
59. From the diversity of our landscape to tropical beaches, wildlife, cultures and historical monuments, Rivers State is also blessed with great tourists attraction sites. However, not much of this potential is exploited to enhance the economy of the State. Fortunately, our investments in hosting conferences and social events have turned Port Harcourt into becoming one of the most attractive and mots visited cities in the country for conferences, leisure and recreation.
60. Last year, we built the ultra modern Port Harcourt Pleasure Park to satisfy the recreational appetite of residents and visitors. Presently, we are expanding the recreation facilities to include a cinema and public restaurant.This, we believe will add more value and attract more patronage to that recreational facility.
61. We have made significant provisions in the 2018 budget to finance these and other projects to boost culture and tourism in the State.
(7) SPORTS DEVELOPMENT
62. The role of sports in engaging and empowering youths cannot be over-emphasized. We recognized this fact and have from inception endeavoured to provide the necessary infrastructure for sports development. Thus, within this period, we ensured that the football pitch in AdokieAmiesemaka Stadium was ready for hosting international matches.
63. We are also renovating the Diete Spiff Sports (Civic) Centre. When completed, this facility will, once again, become useful for training our athletes for local and international competitions.
64. Late last year, the facility hosted the All Nigerian Wrestling completion. It has also been earmarked to host the African Wrestling Championships in February 2018.
65. In 2018, we will step up efforts to establish the Real Madrid Football Academy in the State to cultivate and develop football talents among our youths from the State and improve their economic wellbeing.
66. We will also continue to fund the State’s football teams and support them to win laurels at national and continental for the State. For these and other activities for a comprehensive development of sports in the State, we propose to spend N2.5 billion for fiscal year 2018.
(8) Justice delivery
67. The judicial sector is so dear to our administration because of its importance to the advancement of peace and security as well as the socio-economic development of the State.
68. Last year, we built a new High Court building, completed another one for the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court, started the multi-story courthouse for the Port Harcourt Division of the National Industrial Court, provided vehicles to all our judicial officers and started the construction of judicial quarters for judges.
69. This year we intend to complete all ongoing judicial projects and initiate fresh ones to advance our vision to make our judiciary one of the well resourced and productive in the country. We have accordingly provided N4.350 billion for the law and justice sector of the 2018 budget to further enhance the administration of justice in the State.
(9). Partnership with the Church
70. Rivers State is a Christian State and the Church remains our source of strength, support and protection as a Government and as a people. We must therefore continue to venerate and partner with the Church of God to advance God’s progressive purposes for our State, because without Him, we all labourin vain.
71. Accordingly, we have decided to renew and strengthen our partnership with the Church of God in the State by proposing to establish a Trust Fund for the Church to administer to its needs. The sum of N1 billion has been proposed under this budget for this purpose.
72. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen; we all know what and how it was with Rivers State and our people prior to this administration. For years, lack of good governance prevented our economy from growing and stifled our collective progress.
73. However, we have in the past two and a half years demonstrated what is possible when a government is committed to solving the problems it inherited and advance the overall wellbeing of the people.
74. For us, our State deserves meaningful development and we must, as a Government, continue to do our best to deliver to our people. That is why we are offering a realistic budget for 2018, which takes a balanced and pragmatic approach towards solving the developmental challenges of our State and take it to the next level of transformation.
75. Moreover, at this time of national economic stagnation and uncertainties, the call of duty impels us to set aside our differences and work hard as a team to advance the priorities of our State and build a brighter future for all Rivers people.
76. It is in this positive spirit that I invite the Honourable Members of this Assembly, irrespective of party affiliation to dispassionately consider this budget and join forces with me in moving our State forward with the 2018 budget. Together, we can make Rivers State the land of our dreams where everyone who is willing to work hard can achieve their potential.
77. While thanking your for your unflinching cooperation and support, may I with the kind permission of Mr. Speaker,lay before this highly respected Assembly, the 2018 Budget proposal for your consideration and further action.
78. Thank you. God bless you all, God bless Rivers State.