Corruption and Underdevelopment

Soludo denies padding budget in Anambra

By Paul Michael

Governor of Anambra State, Prof Charles Soludo has denied the reports alleging ‘budget-padding’ in the State. Soludo, on Thursday in a press statement by his Press Secretary, Christian Aburime, described the reports as false while adding that the peddlers of the rumour were doing so because they have lost out on milking the treasury of the State.

According to him, “These are the handwork of losers and detractors. The misinformation should evoke pity for the purveyors in the light of the manifest ignorance boldly couriered in every paragraph of the hasty piece of distraction.

“Bad as it is, no credible reporter has signed this off, establishing it for what it is; lazy propaganda.”

He said for clarity the government is not oblivious of the diversionary antics of those whose lucrative criminal enterprise is being smoked out by the government’s renewed fight against all forms of criminality in the state.

“We want to make the state a liveable and prosperous smart mega city by confronting head-on the infrastructural decay, such as in the area of roads that is clearly in a deplorable situation,” he said.

According to him, the government has declared a state of emergency on Anambra roads and infrastructure.

The governor said that giving priority to infrastructure development, the government has allocated about 64 per cent of the capital budget and an ambitious target of flagging off at least 220km of roads as soon as rain abates.

“With this ambitious program and knowing fully, that failure does not exist in our determined minds, the detractors are at loss and are raising the battle cry with the sole aim of trying to scuttle our determination with all manners of blackmail.

“They claimed that the commissioner for works refused to appear before the state Assembly to defend the budget. This again is the figment of the imagination of the unknown writers with the intent of creating rancour between the executive and the members of the House of Assembly.

“The Commissioner for Works and infrastructure was, indeed, the first commissioner to appear before the House Committee on the first day of the budget defence exercise being 29th of June, 2022 at about 10.00 AM. This is on record and was captured by the Press,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Anambra State House of Assembly has expressed displeasure over a 70 per cent budget slash in Education from N3.23 billion to N1.1 billion in the 2022 revised budget presented by Soludo.

Hon Ejike Okechukwu, member representing Anaocha Constituency ll made the assertion during the ongoing 2022 Revised Budget defence of the Ministry of Education on Thursday at Awka.

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According to Okechukwu, the budgetary allocation to the Education Sector is unrealistic and the slash would lower the standard of teaching and learning, as well as the development of students.

Okechukwu, who is also Chairman of the House Committee on Education, said that education was the bedrock of any society and that the legislature had a duty to check the actions of the executive.

“The education ministry is self-sustaining because it generates revenue annually from students’ tuition, sports levy and exam fees. These money arepaid directly into the government’s account.

“It is sad that these funds are not released to the ministry to operate which is why our students are being exploited, they pay these levies twice or three times a year.

“The slash in the budget is unacceptable. We are supposed to be working towards having 10 percent of our budget allocated to education as recommended by the United Nations Children’s Fund,” he said.

Okechukwu urged the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning who prepared the budget to look into an upward review of the education budget.

Also speaking, Hon Smart Okafor, representing Nnewi North Constituency, said that the Education sector should not be a revenue venture for the State.

“The ministry generates so much yearly to run their activities but once it enters into the government treasury, it will be used to fund other state projects. That is not okay,” Okafor said.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, said that the ministry’s records in 2021 showed that over N636 million and N246 million were generated from the state’s secondary and primary schools respectively.

Chuma-Udeh said the ministry was working on a change in the curriculum of education from the conventional method of teaching to skills training and technology.

“We want to train and graduate students who will not be dependent on the state but be self-reliant and contribute meaningfully to the development of the state.

“We have a lot of reforms to carry out but we are surprised that our budget was slashed and when I queried, I was told that the state government cannot fund the initial budget of N3.23 billion.

“I’m appealing to the Assembly to look into an upward review of the budget to help us carry out our programmes optimally,” she said.

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