Again, the Rivers State governor, Barr. Nyesom Wike has presented a budget of N510 billion to the Rivers State House of Assembly Thursday with the usual fanfare. Expectedly, so he did for 2016 and 2017. However, presentation of the budget proposals remains the last Rivers citizens see of their actual budgets thereafter. All attempts to compel the governor to make public the final appropriation laws (budgets) have met the brick wall. This is at variance with what obtains in all other states of Nigeria and the federal government where budgets are easily placed in the public domain for everyone to access at will.
The Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, will not accept a repeat of what happened in the past two years where the governor vehemently refused to make public the state’s budgets. We are pleased to know that a coalition of civil society groups is already in court to compel the Rivers State governor to make public the previous state’s budgets. As a party, we will not refrain from lending a strong voice to the clamour to give the public access to the state’s budgets.
At the risk of sounding pessimistic, early signs already indicate that Rivers people should not expect any cheery news from the present budget proposal presented by Gov. Nyesom Wike last Thursday.
In his budget proposal presentation speech, nothing suggested that the budget will be placed in public space this time around as the governor made no comments on the clamour by the people to be given access to their budgets. His refusal to react to that clamour clearly suggests that he will continue ignoring the people and keep holding the state budgets hostage.
As a political party, the APC team of budget experts is carefully studying the appropriation bill presented to the Rivers State House of Assembly. However, we note that the actual kernel of a budget which the team will be evaluating is whether all the processes the House should put the bill through are conformed with because that is largely what will legitimise the final outcome or invalidate it . Another is whether this time around the final budget will be placed in public space just as all other
states in Nigeria including the federal government do.
Meanwhile we will continue to ask why the present government has refused to follow in the footsteps of all previous administrations in Rivers State especially that of the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (in which the present governor served as Chief of Staff) by placing the state budgets in public space so that Rivers people and other critical stakeholders can access them. Gov. Nyesom Wike needs to provide an answer except if there is none and that will confirm our worst fears.