————By Shedrack Onitsha, ————
Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has described the allegation of a blank 2017 Budget levied against him by an All Progressive Congress (APC) chieftain, Dr Cairo Ojougboh’s as spurious and it’s devoid of intellectual content.
The Governor stated this while fielding questions from Journalists on Thursday, shortly after presenting 2018 budget proposal to the Delta State House of Assembly.
Recall that Dr Ojougboh had accused Governor Okowa’s administration of operating a blank 2017 budget but, reacting for the first time, Governor Okowa said, “in the first instance, I will not react to comments made by somebody who, though went to school, but made very unintelligent comments.”
“You (Journalists) were here last year when the budget was presented, the budget was debated by the House, the press was also present when the budget was signed; I have been to the National Assembly and I believe that the Delta State House of Assembly is credible; we have followed all the processes just as we have started to follow the processes again this year, is it possible to have a blank budget?” he asked.
The Governor stated that he was not disturbed by such allegations, “what is the budget if it is blank? So some comments appear stupid and unintelligent, but, we are in a country where Some persons can say whatever they want because, there is freedom of speech but, it is only fair that people who went to school should be able to speak in a manner that reflects their intelligence because, when we speak unintelligibly, it is very unfair.”
He also disclosed that his administration has severally, assisted the local government councils to meet with their financial obligations to their workers.
According to the Governor, “in the last two years we have intervened with the excess of N5 billion because, even in January 2016 when it appeared we were good with the allocation from FAAC, we gave N3.26 Billion to the local government councils.”
“We hope that with the improved resources, we will definitely start to look into ways to cushion the gap that they (local government councils) have because, there is an obvious gap that they have on a monthly basis and we hope to improve on what we are using to support them, though, it will take time for us to be able to clear some of those backlogs but, some of the local government councils are actually not owing because they have low number of primary school teachers,” he said, adding, “such local government councils like Burutu, Warri North have very few teachers and are not owing salaries; we are going to encourage those who are not owing so that they will continue to pay and we are going to look at ways to support those local governments that have a very high wage bill”.