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Edo’s budget of progress

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From a hopeless budget in Bauchi in the North-east, a sensible one in Lagos of the South-West and an opaque budget in Benue of the North-central, our focus this week is on the South-South state of Edo, with a view to assessing how self-reliant, fiscally prudent and accountable the state is. It is one of the states where a Fiscal Responsibility Bill has been presented to the state House of Assembly but has not yet been passed into law. While the state benefits from the 13% derivation fund as a marginal oil producing state, this fiscal advantage does not translate to any significant edge in financial transfers and key indices when compared to other states in the Niger Delta region.
The Mid-Western Region was created in 1963 from Benin and Delta provinces of the old Western Region, and its capital was Benin City. It was renamed a province in 1966, and in 1967 when the other provinces were split up into several states, it remained territorially intact, becoming a state. In 1976 it lost Ughelli to the new Rivers state and was renamed Bendel state. Edo State was formed on August 27, 1991 when Bendel State was split into Edo and Delta States. Geographically, Edo is bounded on the north and the east by Kogi State, on the west by Ondo State and on the south by Delta State. It had a population of 3,233,366; 1,633,946 males and 1,599,420 females according to the 2006 Population and Housing Census, making it more populous than Botswana and the Gambia.
As a marginal oil producing state, one of Edo’s principal mineral resources includes crude oil though in tiny quantities compared to other Niger-Delta states. Others resources are natural gas, clay chalk, marbles, granite, limestone (an estimated 10 million tones reserve),gypsum, feldspar (useful for glass production), kaolin(huge deposits which have not been exploited) and a reserve of about 90 million tonnes of bentonite. While bentonite has wide industrial usage, much of the required amount for local consumption is still imported. These minerals are potential revenue sources for the state. Agriculture is the predominant occupation of the Edo people. The major cash crops produced are rubber, cocoa and palm produce. In addition, the State produces crops like yams, cassava, rice, plantains, guinea-corn, and assorted types of fruits and vegetables.
Col. John Yeri served as first Military Governor of Edo state till 1992. Others who governed the state include; John E.K Odigie-Oyegun (1992-1993), Chief Lucky N. Igbinedion (1999-2007), Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor (2007-2008) and most recently Comrade Adams A. Oshiomhole. Oshiomhole was sworn into office November, 12 2008 after the appeal court declared him the winner of Edo state gubernatorial election of April 2007 under the political platform of AC. Prior to his election as Governor he was the president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
Oshiomhole’s activism dates back to his days at the Arewa Textiles Company where he was union secretary. He became a full-time trade union organizer in 1975. In 1999, he became president of the Nigerian Labour Congress. He was publicly recognized as a man of the people and openly challenged the government where policies were not in favour of the workers. The emergence of Adams Oshiomhole as governor of Edo state came as a delight to many who were familiar with his activism and achievements as leader of the Nigeria Labor Congress and believed he would make a difference by actively being in government. Both Nuhu Ribadu and I broke ranks to attend his fundraising dinner and supported his candidature over the PDP candidate. Against this background, Oshiomhole had the popular vote and naturally, the masses believed that his antecedents will enable him to use the resources of the state judiciously and in the best interest of the citizens.
Edo state government’s budget totaled N150.9bn for the 2012 fiscal year; with N64.5bn (43%) recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure slightly higher at N86.4bn (57%). It falls short of the international standard requiring about 70% of expenditure for capital projects, but may be justified by Edo being an old sate with more maintenance burden that new build-outs of infrastructure and facilities. Edo’s personnel cost is 19% of the overall budget and is higher than the state’s IGR of N23.9bn by N4.8bn.This means that the state, if solely dependent on its IGR would not be able to sustain personnel costs much less invest in development projects. The state’s IGR of N23.9bn is only a third of its recurrent expenditure of N64.5bn and therefore insufficient to sustain those expenditures. The state government needs to be shrunk in size and cost.
The high recurrent expenditure cuts across the different sectors in the state, with health and education as understandable, but not in others. The Education sector has N14.1bn allocated for recurrent expenditure while capital expenditure for the sector is half that sum N7.7bn. About N4.3bn is expended on recurrent costs within the health sector in while the capital expenditure is slightly lower at N4bn. Works is the only sector with a allocation in favour of capital spending. It also got the lion’s share of the budget (N36.5bn) and of that amount, only N190m is for recurrent expenditure. Commendably, residents and visitors to the state applaud the current government’s effort at building roads in Benin City after a decade of neglect under PDP governments.
Edo leads all other states in the South-South zone in educational attainment in terms of numbers admitted to Nigerian Universities in 2007/2008 with a total of 3,569 while Bayelsa had only 434. The 2010 National Literacy survey statistics indicate youth literacy in Edo as 89.7%. Edo however has the lowest percentage of adults literate in English 73.5% in the south-south zone. Although the state was previously recognized as the “miracle centre state” because of the high incidence of exam malpractice prevalent there, the state was adjudged best overall in WAEC examinations in 2008 according to an advisor to the Governor. Hopefully the increase in capital expenditure to the sector from N5.6bn in 2011 to N7.7bn in 2012 would be a step in the right direction in support of education for the state.
Regarding health in the state, in 2011, Women Health and Action Research Centre stated that out of 100,000 women that enter labor rooms, 50 of them do not come out alive. Studies including data from Edo state indicate maternal mortality reflects the national average. It seems that maternal health is currently not given the priority it deserves by the state government. Of the N8.2bn allocated to health, about half the amount (N4.3bn) would be expended on overhead and personnel costs.

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