Budget: Now that Lagos has joined Cross River State in the trillion naira league
By Christian Ita
Only a few weeks ago the Cross River State governor, Prof. BEN Ayade presented what was considered unprecedented in the history of budget making with a whooping N1.3trillion to the state house of assembly.
The size of the budget no doubt triggered a healthy debate across a broad spectrum of the society. For those well versed in the art of budgeting, it was a bold and audacious statement both in intent and purposes.
While those who are long native to envelope budgeting were quick to derisively dismiss it as unrealistic and unachievable, serious states like Lagos went back to the drawing board X-raying every detail of the proposed statement of income and expenditure of Cross River State.
Today Lagos State has not only inducted itself into the trillion naira league but has also tacitly affirmed the feasibility and viability of Cross River State's N1.3 trillion appropriation bill with the presentation of its own 2018 appropriation bill of N1.04trillion.
No doubt, Cross River has set a benchmark in budget making. While presenting the budget before the state House of Assembly, Governor Ayade had clearly noted that the size of the budget may be surprising to those who would only gloss over it rather than appreciate the deep thoughts and vision that is behind the proposal.
In a critical environment such as ours, it appears quite convenient to easily scoof at an idea which you have neither laboured to conceive nor had the intellectual capacity to comprehend. But what was apparently demonstrated by Governor Ayade was a clear statement of ambition and aggression, particularly with regards to his industrialisation drive.
Indeed, the Ayade-led administration has a long history of confounding it's critics, particular with its consistency regarding salary payments, most often ahead of time.This is in spite of getting the second lowest allocation from the federation account in the country.
It is this zeal and commitment that gave filip to the ambitious budget which is already galvanizing interest from such reputable institutions like the NEXIM Bank, among others, expressing their determination to help the state get the funds to actualise its 2018 budget.
The reason many Third World countries today have remained stunted and mired in economic doldrums is their obvious lack of audacity to dream and think out of the box.
Others may have chosen to see the glass as half empty, but for the Managing Director of NEXIM bank, Mr. Abba Bello, the glass can only be half full. Voicing his confidence in the achievability of the Cross River State's N1.3 trillion budget, this is what Bello had to say: “This is the first time a state government in Nigeria will present a budget of N1.3 trillion. It therefore, becomes very important that the state will be able to achieve the revenue that will support the expenditure.
“I was taught earlier in my career that to achieve dreams you have to be audacious and I believe that you start with having a target and for you the target today is the budget. I must stand behind you sir to ensure that budget is achieved.”
There are presently many projects and constructions going on in the state, most of which are clearly worked out as a public private partnership with equity adequately captured in the budget.
For an administration whose history flows from a fountain of deep vision and intellectual acuity, the focus of the Ayade-led government has always been how to decouple the state from its continuous dependence on federal allocation. And the way to go? Adoption of the Japanese model. Commoditise government and drive it as a business.
Among projects currently going on and needing a PPP model is the 275km superhighway, the Bakassi Deep sea Port, the proposed new city project called Calas Vegas, the Calabar Garment factory, the Calabar Pharmaceutical company (CalaPharm), among others.
These are lofty and juicy projects that investors are already falling over themselves for a piece of the pie.
This is where the ambitious budget intends to derive its sinews from. The state may not have the money looking at its envelopes, but its thinking and vision is deep and its programmes are achievable.