Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, on Thursday, denied allegations by a former National Vice-Chairman (South-South) of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, that the state was operating ‘illegal blank budget’.
Okowa described the claim by Ojougboh, now a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, as false.
The governor described Ojougboh’s comments as “stupid and unintelligent,” adding that the 2017 budget was duly presented and thoroughly scrutinised by the state House of Assembly before he assented to it.
Speaking at the presentation of the 2018 budget proposal of N298.078bn to the House of Assembly, in Asaba, the governor said he would not waste his time answering questions on an unfounded allegation.
The 2018 budget was christened ‘Budget of Hope and Consolidation’.
Ojougboh, who is a kinsman of the governor, had, after defecting to the ruling APC, written to President Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to investigate what he called the “issuance of a blank budget by the Delta State House of Assembly to the Governor of Delta State.”
Answering questions from journalists after the presentation of the budget, Okowa said, “In the first instance, I would not ordinarily want to react to comments made by somebody (Ojougboh) who, though went to school, is making unintelligent comments.
“You (journalists) were here last year when the budget was presented, it was considered and passed by the House, and you were there when it was signed. I have been to the National Assembly and I believe that the Delta State House of Assembly is very credible.
“We have followed due process, which we have again started for next year’s budget. Is it possible to have a blank budget? Then, what is the budget if it is blank? So, his comments appear stupid and unintelligent, but somehow, we are in a nation where anybody can say anything because of freedom of speech.”
The proposed budget showed an increase of N3.62bn or 1.21 per cent when compared to the 2017 budget of N294.4bn.
The governor stated that funding would be sourced through Internally Generated Revenue, statutory allocation including mineral revenue derivation and Value Added Tax.
He added, “Our expenditure profile for January to September 2017 shows that the total sum of N127.0bn was spent. Out of this amount, the sum of N104.2bn was incurred on recurrent items, as against a proportionate approved budget of N118.5bn, representing a budget performance of 87.97 per cent.