Broke but running: The untold story of how Akwa Ibom State Government is battling to keep fit despite Cash cut
Akwa Ibom State Government says there is no much money in the state as touted in some quarters but that no project started by previous and present Governments of the state is abandoned by Gov Udom Emmanuel. The projects are ongoing and funded base on availability of resources and the need to meet other daily exigencies of the time.
Commissioner for Finance, Hon Linus Nkan who stated this in an interview with Morenews.ng during the week in Uyo said the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the drop in revenue acruing to Akwa Ibom State has affected the pace of completion of ongoing projects and commencement of new ones within the period.
Funds, according to the Finance Commissioner are directed to meeting first line charges of government before funding projects pending when the nation recovers from her “recession”.
He said: “…with the fall in the price of oil, we have suffered serious decline from our revenue because our country depends mainly on oil revenue. To that extent, what happened to the oil market, determines the health of the states.
“There is no need to over emphasize the fact that we have been battling, Nigeria has been battling with Covid-19.
“Before now we were battling with oil alternatives that reduced even demand for oil. At some point, we didn’t even have those who wanted to buy our oil.
“So this affected the revenue acruing to the nation and consequently, affected the revenue available to the state governments.
“So the financial health of any state in Nigeria at the moment, depends on how much you get from Abuja. That’s the truth. Like in our state, couple with the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, what we come back with now from FAAC in terms of allocation, barely covers the first line charge of government expenditure. That is the state of things and there is nothing really that we can do about it at the moment.
“We all know that it is even within the lifetime of this administration that we have been able to jig up the internally generated revenue mechanisms leading to some improvements in our internally generated revenue. But then, the internally generated revenue of a state depends on the economic activities of that state. Akwa Ibom is nearly a civil service State. It is this Government that is trying to open up and boost the private sector of the state. If you don’t have a bouyant private sector, how will you improve the internally generated revenue of the state. So we generate revenue but it is crossly inadequate to support Government expenditure.
“What we have in Akwa Ibom State, what I feel we should boast of is the high Prudential financial management as put in place by Gov Udom Emmanuel. That we have so much money to do what we want to do is not true. We are only limited to what is given to us from the federation account and the little we are also able to generate internally”
“Governor Udom Emmanuel looks unfortunate. He is running a battered economy made possible by falling revenue and a Pandemic that is ravaging the globe. His citizens expects the result of a state under economic bloom and boom.
“The expectation is actually base on the fact that Akwa Ibom State has always topped the allocation chart and cash was flowing in the state. That is not actually realistic factually speaking and critics of government may change their mind after reading Mr Linus Nkan’s explanation on state of affairs. He said:
“…When I spoke with the Chairman of NLC “yesterday”, I said yes, my brother, people say oh Akwa Ibom, there is so much money, that is on paper or base on what used to be. People are not talking from fact because you see there is something about revenue even as a person. We call it Iron Law of Income.
“Your expenditure pattern must outweigh your income. Take for instance you earn 100,000 today, your expenditure pattern is defined by that amount of money. If by tomorrow you are at where you are earning 1,000,000, give just one month, your expenditure pattern will move beyond that 1,000,000. That is what it is.
“Now this is Akwa Ibom State that used to recieve N30, 40b per month from FAAC. Even then, it was not sufficient for the government of the time. They went for loans some of which we are paying back today.
“Now this is the same state that is recieving 30% of that. Already, there is an established expenditure pattern, a pattern that was established when we had much money that is currently unavailable. Mind you, we have inherited more civil servants than what it was. Now some people still expect us to be at the level of development that we were when the oil price was very good and the state was getting a whole lot of money.
“Having dropped our revenue by almost 70% how the present administration is coping is a miracle made possible by the financial management expertise of His Excellency, Gov Udom Emmanuel. I told you that whenever we come back from FAAC, what the governor does is to say Accountant General, Commissioner for Finance, go and pay salaries and pension. And until that is done, the governor will not spend N1 of that money. The fear is always what if what comes now as monthly allocation is not sufficient to pay all the pensions and all the salaries? So it is until we successfully finish the payment of salaries, gratuities and other first line charges that the governor will now either pay money to contractors and so on.”
The Commissioner also addressed raging issues of Federal Government palliative, the state debt burden as released by Debt Management Office penultimate week. He has also added his voice to the EndSARS protest as well as calling for restructuring of the country to allow states more powers to bring development to their regions