Udom Is Not Right With 2017 Budget

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“No one in government should ever think that

the citizens they work for can’t or won’t scrutinize

their actions” – Roy Barnes

 

To a common man, the performance of government is measured on how able he can afford food on his table. Indeed, economic indices such as GDP or GNP and the like as might be presented on the paper do not really matter to a common man unless they are interpreted and concretized in his real life. No matter how leadership could articulate and theorize its economic policies, or guard against deficits and balance its books, if all these efforts lack direct result in the lives of the common masses, then probably, there is no confident in such government.

To majority of Akwa Ibom people during 2015 gubernatorial elections, Mr. Udom Emmanuel was all that is right, not that he more agreeable than other contestants, but because he promised the people the industrialization they badly needed. Akwa Ibom people believed that industrialization would create jobs, alleviate poverty, and lift the state from depth of economic hardship to the zenith of economic prosperity. In other words, the people’s choice of Udom was basically predicated on industrialization campaign promise not on another round of flyovers and constructions of whatever that deems fit.

The proposed N365.251 budgetary outlay for 2017 fiscal year, christened Budget of Consolidation, presented to lawmakers by Mr. Udom Emmanuel at the hallowed chambers of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on Thursday 22nd December, represented nothing but another volte-face in the state government’s s so-called agenda of industrialization. The political undertone in the draft makes the budget a poor economic blueprint which lacks the capacity to recover the state’s economy from the clutch of economic recession and throes of backwardness. Surprisingly as observed in the draft budget, the sector of investment, commerce and industry which ought to be the catalyst for industrialization and the beehive of economic activities is tipped a paltry allocation of N2.830 billion; agriculture, the bedrock of economic development, got N6.831 billion, while works and transport may enjoy father’s blessings to the estimate of N94.864 billion. Given the huge allocation proposed to it, one needs to ask to know what Mr. Ephraim Inyang-eyen’s Works ministry would really achieved for Akwa Ibom as this ministry decided to sideline its own staff in order to operate with contract staff that are cronies to top government officials, as a reliable source disclosed in confidence recently. If this claim is anything to go by, is this ministry not a conduit to the state’s resources or let’s say, a bane to the uncommon industrialization drive of Udom’s administration? The answers could wait for another day.

However, the state’s industrialization drive should have been centred on small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) because the strength of SMEs includes swift realization of marketable products and the ability to discover a niche; they have a high degree of specialization. Industrialization requires the involvement of the real people that have entrepreneurial skills, expertise and generally, years of experience in business, not politicians who do not know how to create and manage wealth. In Akwa Ibom today, there is a wide gap between government and the owners of SMEs. The state’s Ministry of Investment, Commerce and Industry which ought to serve as a meeting point between government and entrepreneurs, and made to mobilized manpower and resources to drive industrialization is underfunded. If the Ministry of Investment, Commerce, and Industry and the SMEs are treated with tepidity, then it appears that the industrialization agenda of the governor is nothing but another political gambit.

Looking at the area of agriculture, it would be quite difficult for industrialization to thrive without strong agricultural foundation. It is agriculture that feeds industries with raw materials. In the 2017 budget, agriculture sector is allotted a meagre sum of N6.831 billion which shows that this government is not willing to do something differently about the sector other than paying lips services to it as usual. Again, most of Udom’s agricultural policy tends to misalign with the collective needs of Akwa Ibom people. One elderly statesman who spoke with me in confidence recently said that Akwa Ibom does not need coconut plantation and refinery, or ‘coconut wine’; rather, all the state needs is production of cassava and crops that could possibly make the state have comparative advantage in the competitive market. To this end, Akwa Ibom needs to produce food that could meet optimum consumption and still left with surplus for industries and for the exportation.

Mr. Udom Emmanuel should rework his economic blueprints for efficacy in order to bring about industrialization that the people need. Demagoguery is a temptation to be avoided. You don’t need to convince the people to see your achievements. People would only see your achievements when your works are ubiquitous.

 

Yes! I am UbongAbasi Ise. For comment, please send SMS to 08189914609

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