Enugu State government, on Monday, engaged its citizens on the 2021 draft budget of the state government with the aim of giving the members of the public the opportunity “to make inputs into the appropriation document thereby making it a citizens budget.”
In a keynote address, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi said that “the event is not just a formality, but a deliberate and sincere attempt to activate one of the key pillars of our governance style and tendency”
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo, Ugwuanyi said that “Citizens’ engagement on budget preparation gives the government the opportunity to get and distill citizens’ invaluable input into a key apparatus for control and management in the system-the budget.
Speaking at the event held at Nike Lake Resort, Enugu, Ugwuanyi noted that “Participatory budgeting is one of the government ‘s commitments under the Open Government Partnership (OGP) , that the Enugu State government joined in September 2017.
“This commitment ensures that citizens participate and make input into. the budget process, starting with the pre-budget statement, the executive budget proposal, budget debate through public hearing in the legislature, implementation, monitoring, reporting and auditing of the budget.
“The commitment also guarantees that budget information is made accessible to all promptly and in an easily-understandable format with the ultimate objective of improving accountability on the part of government and it’s agents, providing openness and transparency in the budget process and ensuring that citizens are engaged throughout the budget cycle.
“We must use this opportunity to play our own individual and collective roles towards reversing the disturbing trend of low citizens’ participation. In the budget cycle, ineffective management of public resources, poor public services, ratings , low budget performance and a generally weak transparency mechanism in the public governance space’
In his opening remarks, the commissioner for Budget and Planning, Dr David Ugwunta, said that the aim of the event was to allow citizens to make their input in what they will benefit from.
In his speech, the permanent secretary, ministry of budget and Planning, Casmir Ugwu said that the event was for the people to tell the government what they wanted. He said that government has to be participatory, transparent and accountable,keeping to the rule of law .
He said that they were in the event to present what they spent in 2020 and the draft budget for 2021.
In the third quarter 2020 , the actual revenue that accrued to the State stood at N25,629,533,034, the actual revenue translates to 86.4% revenue performance. On expenditure, a total of expenditure of N 30,132,562,220. representing 82.34% quarterly budget performance was recorded but of a total projected Q3 expenditure of N 36,593,660,270. The recurrent expenditure amounted to a total of N15,878,937,693.00 as at the end of the third quarter of 2020, the capital expenditure sums to a total of N14,253,624,527.00 as against the quarterly revised budget of N 19,146,160,270.00.
Meanwhile, the Governing Council and Management of Enugu State College of Education (Technical) – ESCET, have honoured Ugwuanyi with an award of fellow of the College, the first of its kind.
The authority has also asked over 10,000 graduands of the college of 1- 13 years to come for collection of their certificates, expressing their immense gratitude to Governor Ugwuanyi for his passion, commitment and numerous interventions towards the growth and development of the College.
Speaking when she led members of the Governing Council, Management and academic staff of the College to formally present to Ugwuanyi an Award of Fellow of Enugu State College of Education (Technical), Enugu (FESCET), the Chairman of the Council, Mrs. Fidelia Akuabata Njeze, stressed that the governor’s support to the institution was “unprecedented”.
She said that the school, prior to the inception of the present administration in 2015, was confronted with the challenge of non-accreditation of courses for over a decade, which resulted to non-issuance of certificates to the College graduands and threatened the existence of the College as a tertiary institution.
Njeze disclosed that Ugwuanyi’s administration gave the College financial support when the institution sought the state government’s assistance to meet the requirements of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) and National Universities Commission (NUC) in order to obtain accreditation.
“I make bold to state that today, we have full accreditation in all our courses both at NCE level with NCCE and Degree level with NUC in affiliation with Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka”, Njeze said.
She said that the governor’s interventions ensured that the College was able to successfully hold its first ever consolidated convocation ceremony (2009-2020) in October this year (10 years backlog of convocation of the College).
Njeze said, “We are here today with your kind approval to conclude the ceremony, which will not be concluded without His Excellency’s participation”.
She thanked the governor for the ongoing construction of a Computer Based Test Centre (CBT) Hall with a seating capacity for 250 students, which she said, was 95 percent completed.
She appreciated Gov. Ugwuanyi for the “construction of first modern students’ hostel since the College was created out of IMT, Enugu”, as well as “prompt and regular release of monthly subventions to the College”, among others.
Speaking, the Provost of the College, Dr. Osondu Eze, commended Ugwuanyi for his administration’s support to the institution, saying that “it is unprecedented that for the past 13 years of the establishment of this College, you are the only governor that gave us the approval to do convocation and start issuing certificates to graduands”.
Pointing out that “the era of no certificate is gone” as “we have more than 10,000 certificates waiting for graduands to come and collect”, the Provost called on those who passed through the College and have obtained clearance to come for collection of certificates.
Responding, Ugwuanyi thanked God and the College for the honour given him.
He reiterated his administration’s commitment to continue to change the school’s narrative, notwithstanding the fact that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges bordering on the economy and security, have reset and affected programmes of government at all levels.