By Mohammed Ismail
In what may pass as the greatest paradox in the contemporary history of Adamawa state administration, the office of the governor of Adamawa state has received more allocation than the all important education, agriculture and water ministries put together in the last three years, this paper can reveal.
The governor’s office got the priority allocation despite the Boko Haram insurgency that led to the destruction of educational and health infrastructures and also prevented farmers from accessing their farmlands across the northern axis of the state where governor Bindow himself hails from.
The insurgency, also made thousands of school children to abandon schools as most of them became internally displaced as a result of the diabolic insurrection that crippled socio-economic activities across the senatorial zone.
Governor Muhammadu Ummar Jibrilla Bindow has during his inaugural speech in 2015 promised to use the meagre resources of the state at his disposal to turn around the fortunes of the state and to address the myriads of challenges wrought on the state in the wake of the violent incursion of Boko Haram extremists.
To that effect, the governor promised to collect only half of his salary and to ensure the frugal use of the state’s resources in order to bring rapid socio-economic development, adding that despite the economic challenges dogging the nation, he has no reason to fail the people.
But from our findings, the governor may have succeeded in doing the obverse, following hefty budgetary allocations made to his office which many analysts say was incredulous, considering Adamawa’s state of finances and the serious attention that other important but neglected sectors deserve.
Nigerian governors have been found wanton of making huge budgetary allocations in the name of “security votes” to their offices which are usually unaccounted for. These funds usually find their ways to offshore accounts where they are usually laundered.
The indictment of late governor Alameyeshigha, ex-governor Nyame and his Plateau state counterpart, Dariye by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over mismanagement of funds entrusted to them among sundry infractions, leading to their conviction by various Nigerian courts, are some few cases in point.
Our findings have shown that the governor’s office got a whopping recurrent budgetary allocation of N8,592,765,400 in 2016 and N9,137,738,940 in 2017 while it got N10,051,512,834 in 2018 which means that, in the last three years, the office of the governor alone, has received a whopping sum of N27.8 billion without the governor explaining how such extortionate amount was expended, since from all intents and purposes, the money was the governor’s exclusive preserve.
In sharp contrast, the education sub-sector which ought to receive the government utmost priority because of the Boko Haram insurgency, has been wallowing in abject neglect and only allocated paltry sums in juxtaposition to what the governor’s office got.
In 2016, the ministry of education received N3,342,137,076 as capital budget while the sum of N328,640,400 was allocated to it as recurrent expenditure. The sum of N7,018,300,868 was allocated to it for capital projects in 2017 with a recurrent budget of N332, 625,040 just as N629,353,403 was earmarked as capital budget for the ministry in 2018 as N365,887,544 was allocated to it as recurrent budget. In cumulation, the sector got N12,016,944,331 between 2016 and 2018.
The ministry of agriculture was not as lucky as the ministry of education as it got N1,201,000,000 as capital budget in 2016 and recurrent budget of N326,640,400 in 2016. It received N4,359,498,209 as capital budget in 2017 and N315,578,817 as recurrent budget while it received N407,898,625 as capital budget in 2018 and got N356,950,000 as recurrent budget for the same year. In cumulation, the sector got the sum of N6,967,566,061 in three years.
Similarly, the ministry of water resources got N492,740,000 as capital budget in 2016 and N217, 640,400 as recurrent expenditure while it got N1,267,620,000 and N247, 852,330 as capital and recurrent budgets respectively in 2017. The ministry also got the sum of N173,000,000 and N272,637,563 as capital and recurrent budgets respectively in 2018. In summation, the ministry got a total of N2,671,906,693 as its three years budget.
Adding the capital and recurrent budgets for the three ministries will amount to N21,656,417,085, a far cry from what the governor’s office got in the period under review.
Commenting on the issue, a public affairs analyst and legal icon in the state, Barr. Joshua Wugira said the subterranean economic shenanigans being undertaken by the government may be responsible for the high level secrecy that the state budget has been subjected to.
He noted with dismay the failure of the government, to like its predecessors, indulge in budget breakdown as has been the established culture, even for the expediency of political correctness.
“I always believe that the government is not honest with us and the state assembly is just a congress of illiterates.
“We need to know how much is allocated to every sector in all the appropriation laws, how much was spent, and how much was returned as unspent, what was done, what was not done, what was started, what is ongoing, what was completed, what could not be completed and why. What was abandoned and why,” he said.
In addition to that Wugira also charge indigenes to strive to know whether the state’s accounts have been audited over the years and to be given such audited reports otherwise they should ask why the accounts were not audited adding that ” we must know these as of democratic rights and statutory law.”
The executive arm of government has over the years been fingered to be responsible for Nigeria’s infrastructural deficit, as it was in the habit of earmarking substantial sums as recurrent budget to service the needs of political office holders and civil servants who constitute an infinitesimally low percentage of Nigeria’s population at the expense of majority of Nigerians.
It is believed that despite the low allocation to the capital projects, a significant percentage of the little amount earmarked for capital projects usually finds its way into the pockets of greedy politicians in collusion with civil servants who felt no qualms to shortchange Nigerians.
In a friendly jab during his last visit to Nigeria, the 21st century business iconoclast, Bill Gates, spoke truth to power when he bluntly told the president to invest in the country’s most important resource, which is the Nigerian people, adding that for the country to maximize its potentials, great priority must be given to education and healthy well being of the people.