…education, health, road transport, buildings, agriculture, others top priorities
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Wednesday, presented a N320.35bn budget to the Edo State House of Assembly for the 2023 fiscal year, representing a 44.3 percent increase from the N222bn budgeted for the year 2022.
Obaseki, who presented the budget to the Assembly sitting at the Anthony Enahoro Assembly Complex in Benin City, said the budget comprises N192 billion for capital and N127.5 billion for recurrent expenditure.
Guests present at the budget presentation include Edo State Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comr. Philip Shaibu; Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq.; Chief of Staff to the Governor, Hon. Osaigbovo Iyoha and Edo State Head of Service, Anthony Okungbowa Esq.
Others are Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare; Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Monday Osaigbovo; Commissioner for Business, Investment and Cooperative, Aishatu Braimoh and Commissioner for Youths and Gender Issues, Andrew Emwanta, among others.
According to the governor, the document, christened ‘Budget of Resilience and Transformation,’ is informed by the need to “build a resilient and sustainable foundation for the reforms, initiatives and programmes that we have embarked on in the last six years.”
“Our strategic goal is to utilize manufacturing, technology, agriculture, arts, culture and entertainment as the catalyst to promote sustained investment across all sectors of the Edo economy,” he added.
Obaseki noted that the total projected revenue for 2023 is N300 billion, consisting of N144.26 billion statutory allocation, made up of Value Added Tax (VAT) of N41.2 billion; Capital receipts of 46.1bn; IGR, N60.4 billion and N4 billion from grants, among others, adding that “The balance of will be sourced from development financing and financial institutions.”
Obaseki further stated, “The revenue estimates for the budget is based on a $70 per barrel benchmark for crude oil and average daily production of 1.69m barrels per day as well as an increase in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N60.4bn, owing to reforms in tax collection and land management activities.
“Our intention is to push for revenue and reforms in the built environment. We are committed to boosting capital spending this year. To this end, we expect a capital/recurrent expenditure ratio of 60.2 per cent to 39.8 percent respectively. This would reinvigorate the economy, providing the right impetus for the needed growth expected in the year.”
Receiving the 2023 budget proposal, Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Marcus Onobun, hailed the governor for his efforts at ensuring economic prosperity for the state, adding, “It is worthy to note that at the presentation of the year 2022 budget, you made certain commitments to the people of Edo in relation to infrastructural transformation, healthcare, education and economic development of the State.
“It is commendable that despite the looming global economic meltdown and other uncertainties, you were able to deliver set goals as outlined. On behalf of my colleagues, I applaud you for your sterling performance despite the odds. We applaud your visionary initiatives, leadership, passion, strategic innovation and dedication to our dear state and its people.
“As a House, we will hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity in carrying out this constitutionally assigned duty of scrutinizing and the consideration of this budget for the benefit of the state. We will ensure that this budget proposal receives timely consideration. We will collaborate with relevant stakeholders, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government to deliver a budget that is exemplary; a budget that focuses on the aspirations and needs of the people of Edo State.”
The governor, earlier, listed education, health, road transport, buildings, agriculture, energy and electricity as well as economic enablers as the areas of focus in the 2023 fiscal year.
According to Obaseki, “With changes in global economic dynamics and its effect on our economy, states that must survive will have to transform structurally and change the way they operate. Partnerships, therefore, are key to resilience.
“Government does not have all the resources needed to engender growth and development that the people desire. Partnerships with local and international private sector players are therefore germane and expedient so as to make progress.
“It is on this note that the government seeks to enhance reforms in government process, stimulate economic prosperity and improve ease of doing business to continuously attract private capital to engender sustainable development.
“With several projects at the verge of completion in the year 2023, we hope to galvanize all actors and harness resources to increase the opportunities for our people to enhance productivity and expand the economic base of our state.”
He added, “As we drive for economic growth, we will continue to pursue policies and programmes that ensure fair and balanced access to education, health care and social protection across the three senatorial districts of the state.
“Public Private Partnership (PPP) will continue to dominate our investment initiatives in the New Year.”
On the achievements in the outgoing year, the governor said “In 2022, we made considerable progress in the march towards sustainable growth, prioritizing key areas of development and building on the gains made in the last six years.
“Despite the excruciating economic realities, we remained on course with our plans, maintained momentum in delivering on the projections made for the year.
“In the outgoing year, we consolidated on the ongoing Public/Civil Service Transformation exercise, ensuring a seamless transition into digitalizing our systems and processes in government.
“Following this, we conducted a service-wide digitization exercise with the deployment of over 4,000 computers and other digital infrastructure, which have helped in making digital versions of government records. We also rolled out the phase II of recruitment exercise, which has injected new life into the civil service across various cadres.
“The Block B of the Secretariat complex was completed this year and various ministries have moved into the facility, utilizing the improved work environment in delivering quality service to Edo people.”
He continued: “We have sustained investment in human capital development, as it remains the fulcrum for our developmental goals. Because we believe that our greatest assets are our people, we have decided to strengthen our educational and health institutions to enable our people to realise their full potential and get employment.
“The next phase of the Edo State Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST 2.0) programme was rolled out this year, ensuring the disarticulation of the secondary school system. The programme is now live in Junior Secondary Schools across the state. We have now trained over 15,000 teachers, who are deploying digital tablets to teach over 300,000 across public schools in the state.
“Technical education is also a priority for us. The Government Science and Technical College (GSTC) has been a successful pilot for our state-wide plan to strengthen Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). We are working with partners such as the German Government and the World Bank to roll out more TVET schools across the 18 local governments in the state.
“The Edo State Polytechnic, Usen, will continue to receive the required attention and retain the accreditation of all its courses.
“Reforms in our colleges and universities are yielding positive fruits. The Edo State University, Uzaurie, remains a shining light for our reforms. The Ambrose Alli University is being restructured for sustainability.
“The Edo State College of Agriculture, with campuses in Iguoriakhi, Agenebode and Uromi is taking shape as its reconstructed main campus in Iguoriakhi, will open for classes in the first half of 2023.
“Across the major elements of the tertiary education ecosystem – infrastructure, personnel and operations – we are retooling the systems to deliver greater value to our people.”
On healthcare, the governor noted, “The healthcare system in the state is witnessing a total overhaul, as we have introduced changes that ensure that the people are better served, guaranteeing that healthcare is reliable, affordable and accessible.
“For us, the focus remains on developing a vibrant primary healthcare system. We have transferred staff from the Ministry of Health to the Edo State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, while over 50 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) have been revamped, fitted with technology and powered with solar energy to ensure minimal downtimes.
“Leveraging strategic partnerships with the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA), we organised one of the largest medical outreaches in the state, providing our people with essential medical interventions that were previously out of their reach.
“We are ensured a sustainability pathway by deploying the telemedicine facilities in the PHCs to enable ANAP members in the diaspora to continue to provide consultancy to our people.
“The Edo State School of Nursing Sciences is, today, a success story. We are oversubscribed and are expanding to accommodate more students. The success of the school is a validation of our resolve to ensure that if our institutions of higher learning are structured to global standards, they will attain self-reliance and run in a sustainable manner.
“The Edo State Health Insurance Scheme has continued to enroll more persons across various sectors of the economy so as to shore up the number of persons making out-of-pocket payments for healthcare services. We have made room for enrollees from the informal sector so as to have a robust scheme that can cater for the needs of the citizenry.”
Reeling out the gains recorded in public safety and security, Obaseki said, “We understand that the investments being made in Edo today would benefit from improvement in public safety and security. This is why we invested heavily in improving the state’s security system with the establishment of the Edo State Command and Control Centre. The centre is fitted with state-of-the-art security equipment to assist security personnel in curbing crime and criminality in the state.
“We have extended copious support to federal government security agencies in the state with the provision of operational bases and purchase of equipment, including Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), speedboats and gunboats, among others.
“We also refurbished and rebuilt infrastructure at the Police Training School, Ogida to assist in training members of our Vigilante Network, PUWOV and Constabulary Team.
“The Edo State Security Network has been instrumental in pushing back against criminal elements in society. They have helped in providing intelligence and strengthening community policing working closely with federal security agencies.
On infrastructure, he said, “We recorded impressive feats in the power sector in 2022, with improved power generation from Ossiomo Power Company, which now has 95MW generation capacity and has expanded its transmission and distribution lines on the back of our new legislation that creates a vibrant electricity market.
“This power reform is instrumental to the roll out of the Edo Street-lighting project through which major roads in Benin metropolis and Auchi are now illuminated at night to boost economic activity in the state.
“Work is progressing steadily on the Benin River Port while the state has laid fiber optic cables across Benin metropolis to expand the state’s digital infrastructure and improve internet connectivity. The fiber optic cables will be extended to the 18 local government areas of the state in partnership with private investors.
“We have intensified efforts to improve physical infrastructure across the state, despite setbacks occasioned by an extended rainy season which has slowed the pace of work.
“However, amid this, we have continued key road projects across the state’s three senatorial districts.”
Obaseki added, “Our economic development plan is anchored on our 30-year development plans, including the Benin City Masterplan and the Edo Regional Development Plan, two documents that would guide our development trajectory till 2050.
“With the calibre of investors that we have attracted to Edo State in the last six years, we can boldly say that the state’s economic base has been largely recalibrated.
“Our strategy is to attract investors by ensuring security, availability of electricity and high-speed broadband connection in the state.
“Currently, there is stable electricity supply provided by Ossiomo Power Company, which is supplying stable electricity to government establishments and streetlights. It also powers the industrial clusters, production hubs and other electricity customers in the state.
“With the state’s new electricity law passed by this honourable house, we expect to create a vibrant market in electricity which will lead to more investments in generation and distribution to reach even more communities across the state.
“Mr. Speaker, I can confidently confirm that we have attracted not less than $2bn investment into the economy across various sectors, including commercial agriculture, energy, healthcare, hospitality, arts and culture, entertainment and technology.
“Many of these projects are anchored on a Public Private Partnership (PPP), which ensures that we have a strong alliance with private actors to collectively drive sustainable development.
“The success of the Edo State Oil Palm Programme (ESOPP) has been phenomenal. We are driving Africa’s largest oil palm development project in recent years. Working with Dufil Limited, Fayus Limited, Saro Africa International, Flour Mills of Nigeria and other investors, the state is leading the charge in oil palm development in Nigeria and is poised to dominate the sub-sector when the plantations start harvest in the next few years.
“In the outgoing year, we have added a new refinery, with the coming onstream of the Duport Energy Park, which boasts of a 10 Megawatts Generating Power Plant, a gas processing cluster and a tier 4 data center, increasing our capacity to play in the country’s hydrocarbon market upon obtaining necessary regulatory approvals.”
On innovation and youth enterprise, the governor stated, “We are always conscious as a government that Edo has a very large population of young people. Working with our partners, we have set the target of training not less than 15,000 youths in the next five years in software engineering and soft skills. In line with this, we have also graduated the 3rd cohort from the Edo Tech Park take-off campus, from where training is currently ongoing. These young individuals are set to take on the world to build tech unicorns from our state.
“We are also giving opportunities to young creatives in the state to undertake their production in the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub – another landmark project of ours which is fitted with a world-class soundstage and a post-production studio with equipment for video and music production, animation and post-production, is attracting film makers to the state. This year almost 30 movies have been shot and produced in Edo by big time industry players such as ROK studios, AfricaMagic etc.”