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Enugu budget: Beware of squeezing N521bn out of stone – Okechukwu urges Gov Mbah

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A foundation member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and indigene of Enugu State, Mr Osita Okechukwu, on Sunday, cautioned Enugu State Governor, Barr Peter Mba, to beware of the dangers of squeezing water out of stone.

Okechukwu, who reminded the governor of the economic hardship and suffering being encountered by the people, stressed that it would be inhuman to subject them to extreme taxation.

He reminded the governor that the good people of Enugu State, like most poor Nigerians, have for long been in dire economic straights, where cost of food items, transportation, medication and sundry items have hit the roof tops.

He maintained that the people do not need further disruption, adding:
“One personally admires the zeal, passion and ambition of His Excellency, Peter Mba, to budget over five hundred billion Naira for the 2024 fiscal year.

“However, one has to caution him to beware of the dangers of squeezing 1/2 trillion Naira out of stone.

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“I shivered when I heard the governor mention the word maximisation of internally generated revenue, and I imagined if it is not from the same impoverished folks of which over 40% fall under multidimensional poverty cadre.”

Okechukwu, who is the immediate past Director General of Voice of Nigeria, DG, VON, spoke to journalists at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, while reacting to the 2024 Enugu State budget recently delivered by the governor, christened Budget of disruptive economic growth.

When reminded that internal revenue generation drive is universal in all the states of the federation and not restricted to only Enugu State, the APC chieftain agreed, but singled out the multidimensional poverty status of majority of the indigenes of Enugu State and the contradiction of over taxation.

“I don’t know the current Nigeria Bureau of Statistics’ poverty ranking of my state, but the little one knows is that there is abject poverty, gross unemployment and palpable insecurity which has driven a lot of farmers out of their farms,” he said.

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On his advice to the governor, Okechukwu advised him to rely on the Federation Account Allocation Committee’s, FAAC, monthly revenue accruals as his seed money and make sure it is transparently utilised.

“The problem is that most governors utilise FAAC monthly allocation as pocket money and squander it for personal expenses instead of tangible investment.

“Secondly, he should establish cordial relationship with the Federal Government so as to benefit from projects like the Enugu Urban Water scheme initiated by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, programs among others.

“And he should intensify collaboration with his colleagues in the private sector so as to fund 1,000 mega watts, sulphur dioxide emission controlled Coal-fired Power Plant. This will attract investors as experts believe that power supply is fundamental to simulating investment and economic growth,” he further stated.

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Reminded that climate change advocates will frown at Coal-fired-Power Plant, Okechukwu pointed at the existence of Flue Gas Desulfurisation, FGD, an air pollution control device for sulphur dioxide emissions, which he said takes care of climate change.

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He regretted the crass hypocrisy of the developed countries, where as of July, 2023, China has 1,142, India 282, USA 210, Japan 93, Germany 58 of Coal Fired Power Plants, respectively.

Pmnews.ng recalls that Governor Mbah last week presented a N521.5 billion (N521,561,386,000) budget for the 2024 fiscal year before the Enugu State House of Assembly.

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