FULL TEXT: 2018 Budget speech presented by Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu

By Factnews on 22/12/2017

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PROTOCOL ​


DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!


It is my honour and pleasure to present to this distinguished Honourable House, the 2018 Budget of Abia State. This Budget is packaged to follow the Medium Term Expenditure Framework which looks at projections for 3-year plan period. This Budget therefore has projections for years 2018 to 2020, and is compliant with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).

The State is committed to fiscal management process in line with International best practices, making our State Investment-Friendly to foreign investors. This Budget is therefore packaged with the right policy formulation, fiscal planning, budget analysis, accountability and routine financial management. 

Much as the economy of Nigeria is said to be out of recession, EconomicIndicators (i.e. rises in the rate of inflation, interest rate, decrease in Foreign Direct Investment, etc) show that we are still not near getting out of the woods. This has greatly determined the direction of our projection and informed the theme of the budget. The 2018 Budget is christened “Budget of Partnerships and Opportunities”. This clearly shows Government’s direction and the need for all to tag along. In the present economic uncertainties facing Nigeria as a country (which Abia State is part of), we need to look beyond our borders in search of partnerships and endeavour to take full advantage of the opportunities such partnerships present to keep the State going. We must also take steps to show tenacity, frugalityand transparency in our financial management style as partnerships can only be attracted in such financial management climate. 
Due to limited resources, we have prioritized our needs in line withrequests harvested from various communities and the 5 (five) pillars of development. We expect to boost trade and commerce, agriculture and agribusiness as well as catalyze the emergence of vibrant small and medium scale manufacturing in Abia. Every effort will be made in the 2018fiscal year to develop the critical infrastructure in those areas as well as in Health and Education that will guarantee our development.
Mr. Speaker, Honourable members of the House of Assembly, let me emphasize here that the outcome of this Budget is expected to give Abians access to quality agricultural produce; unhindered qualitative and affordable healthcare; access to qualitative education; security for all and a quantum lift to commercial activities. 
Aba is critical to the improvement of our IGR. Therefore we are not going to relent in our effort in 2018 to sustain the vibrancy of the commercial capital of Abia State so that it can operate at maximum capacity.

Review of the 2017 Budget
We did not achieve our projected revenue in the year 2017. Howbeit, we have done our utmost to address issues reflected in the 2017 Budget within the limit of available resources. In terms of performance we have registered modest achievements.

HEALTH: In the health Sector which is one of our 5 Pillars, we have sustained our partnerships which have produced results as follows:
-​Collaboration with Obasanjo Foundation came with the supply of Hearing aid equipment to the impaired;
-​Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) in the State have been revitalized and polio eradication is on course;
-​Keyed into the fight against Tuberculosis and attracted Tuberculosis Zonal Reference Laboratory to Abia State to serve the South East; 
-​Have set up multi-drug resistant, tuberculosis treatment ward in the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia;
-​We are also in Federal Government ‘Save a Million Life Initiative’;
-​Partnering with Eye foundation Hospital, Lagos. The Diagnostic Centre has entered into discussions with Gregory University to be accredited as a Teaching Hospital;
-​The Maternity Unit was upgraded through partnership with MTN.
-​The Dialysis Unit upgraded and handles an average of 100 cases monthly;
-​Our college of Medicine has continued to produce high flying medical doctors in various aspects of clinical medicine; produced highly skilled Nurses and Midwives;
- ​In ABSUTH, through partnerships with MTN, we got Neonatal Incubators, Hospital Beds and Furniture. We also received donationsof Laboratory Equipment worth N2m from “Umu-Aba Connect” and Medical Equipment worth N10m from ABSU Alumni, United Kingdom Branch;
–​ In the area of accreditation we achieved full accreditation fromNUC for training medical students and West–African College of Surgeons for training of postgraduate Doctors in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G);
-​Received partial accreditation from National Postgraduate Medical College for training of postgraduate doctors in Pediatrics. ABSUTH is awaiting result on the Accreditation exercise of Postgraduate Doctors in Surgery by the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria;
-​ In March 2017, free Medical outreach was carried out where a totalnumber of 85 indigent patients benefitted. Out of this number, 75 surgeries were handled in gynecological cases;
-​ In order to block leakages in IGR in ABSUTH, the collection of revenue has been automated;
-​ Facilities in the Mortuary have been upgraded;
-​In College of Health and Management Technology 7 Programmes and 5 professional courses were accredited;

-​Partnered with MTN in renovating Maternity Wards at the GeneralHospital, Okpuala Ngwa. Healthcare service delivery has beenflagged off at General Hospital, Obingwa. At Aba General Hospital,renovation is on-going. 
-​In Primary Health Care we, in partnership with Unicef and WHO,achieved 96% reduction in mortality rate in under 5 through improved management of Diarrhea, Pneumonia and Malaria.
-​The State in 2017, attracted and successfully hosted the National Council on Health and initiated the National Health Act (NH Act 2014).
AGRICULTURE: In 2016, Ministry of Agriculture in collaborating with the Public Private Partnership Office, carried out series of interviews of prospective Investors for the development of the Oil Palm, Rubber, Rice, Cassava, and Red Meat Value Chains. The essence of the exercise was to release the financial burden on the State and place it on Private Investors as well shore up revenue from there. We achieved this in our Oil Palm, Rubber and the Abattoir.

Other modest achievements were registered in the following areas:
-​Built a 2,500 capacity Demonstration Poultry Farm at the Ministry of Agriculture Headquarters;
-​Established Oyster mushroom farm;
-​Initiated Cocoa stems multiplication farm at Ulonna Farm Estate;
-​Mass-produced TME (419) and the pro-vita cassava stem species;
-​Established a Poultry Cluster Village (phase I) – a one – stop shop for poultry farmers;
-​Production of oil palm seedlings is on-going;
-​Effectively utilizing the Unified Agricultural Extension System (UAES) in carrying out capacity building for farmers via Farmers Field School with Community Demand Driven Methodology.
-​Extension services to farmers by application of Technology Generation and dissemination through informal teaching/training,adoption, procurement and distribution of improved seeds and agro-chemicals.


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY: 
- Completed the Aba Mega Mall (The Ultra Modern Electronics and Electrical Shop);
- The State has successfully privatized/leased Abia Hotels, Aba Main branch. Abia Hotels Umuahia has been upgraded to a 3–Star Hotel through an investor and to be commissioned shortly;
-​Expanded the Ohiya – Umuogo – Nsukwe Industrial Mechanic Cluster to accommodate more mechanics and allied workers;
-​Engaged a Developer in the on-going Ovom International Industrial Cluster for Mechanics, Spare Parts Dealers and Allied Workers; and the Umukalika Industrial Cluster for Leather and Garments manufacturing; 
Facilitated total quality management, oversea trips for exhibitions andmarketing of Made-in-Aba goods.
-​Set up a small scale fabrication engineering workshop at the Metallurgical Complex, Aba.


EDUCATION: In the year under review, we have registered appreciable successes in education (one of the 5 Pillars). At the Primary/Secondary School levels, we have maintained Tuition-Free Education. We have also sustained the Free Lunch Programme at the primary school level. 
Through the ASUBEB we organized training workshops for Teachers and supervisors (1150 and 25 respectively); organized targeted training to strengthen Mathematics and Science Education for 200 core Mathematics/Science Teachers. In addition, 876 Teachers from the 17 Local Government Education Authorities were trained in right Curriculum Models Method. Also trained were 1000 Primary 1(one) Teachers from the 17 LGAs under Jolly Phonies/Trained. Distributed computer and Science Kits to Junior Secondary Schools
Abia Students at the senior secondary level have maintained top position for 3 years running in WASSC Exam.
The State in partnership with Kiara College and the Organized Private Sector (OPS) established 18 training centres across the 17 Local Government Areas in the Education for Employment (E4E) programme. To boost this programme, the OPS help to place participants in various sector skills areas for training. So far we have trained and graduated 500 in ICTfor Practitioners. Out of this number 170 (10 per LGA) have been promised Automatic Employment. There are 4,000 participants who are undergoing training now in 8 skills areas to boost the Made-in-Aba drive.
This Administration sees Job Creation and Skills Development as necessary ingredients in our integrated economic development agenda as availability of relevant skills in our environment will naturally lead to more investments and further reduction in Unemployment-Related Criminal Activities. The use of E4E is part of our strategies to bring this to pass. Private Organizations are identifying with our programme on E4E. For example, Dangote Group is partnering with the State in the E4E programme and is funding the construction of job centre in Abia.
We have renovated 17 No. Classrooms, dug 5 No. Boreholes as well as constructed Perimeter Fencing in selected Schools to ensure the security of our children, equipment and materials. 
In line with our focus on oil and gas and as part of the 5Pillars of this administration, we intend to introduce new courses in Oil and Gas as well as Chemical Engineering among others in Abia Polytechnic. We will also ensure accreditation of new and re-accreditation of old courses. 
To help our Students’ performance, improve their reading habits and research, we shall make the E-Library functional and relevant.

OIL AND GAS: In Oil and Gas Sector, we are in partnership with the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) on the implementation of the Global Memorandum of Understanding between SPDC and 13 Communities in Ukwa West. Government is in an ongoing negotiation for the establishment of Abia State Modular Refinery. The Ministry of Petroleum is vigorously monitoring the distribution and sales of adulterated Petroleum Products, price stabilization as well as ensure that oil spillagesare quickly attended to by the Oil Companies.

HOUSING: In the area of Housing, we were able to achieve the following:
-​Renovated the Governor’s lodge, Umuahia and the Annex at Abuja;
-​Completed 4 No. 4 – Bedroom bungalows at Isieke Housing Estate; 
-​Have achieved 65% renovation work in the Child and Maternal Healthcare, ABSUTH, Aba; and
-​Work is ongoing in the new Government House.

WORKS AND TRANSPORT: In 2017, a total of 15 Road Projects have been completed whereas 68 others are on-going. We are determined to complete the construction of the Fly-over Project at Aba to ensure the intended benefits are realized and quickly too. Work is still on-going at theInland Waterway Project at Obuaku. This project, when completed, will connect the State to the Atlantic Ocean and ensure access to large sea going vessels.

WATER RESOURCE: Under our “Water Must Flow Initiative”, we have continued to record appreciable successes. Contracts have been awarded for Water Schemes in each of the 3 Senatorial Zones. Furthermore, we have keyed into the World Bank Assisted 3rd National Water Sector Reform Programme of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. We have also established a PEWASH office to take care of the Rural Water Sector,Sanitation and Hygiene (a Federal Water Programme). 
The activities of RUWASSA have been enhanced with the signing of Partnership Extended Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Protocol by the State. We are in the Water and Development Alliance Project Phase III, a Global Environmental and Development Fund (GETF/USAID)/Coca–ColaProgramme, Programme in partnership with Partners for Development (an NGO). 28 Communities have already been selected for intervention inWater, Sanitation and Hygiene Program which includes WASHCOM and VHP formation and training and construction WASHCOM
On Electricity, we have awarded contract for the supply of 50 units of Transformers. Out of this number 35 units have been supplied and 34 numbers distributed. This has improved power supply. Street lighting has been improved upon. This has not only beautified Umuahia and Aba but also reduced crime in the Urban Centres.
FINANCE: 
-​Human resources and centralization of payroll systems have been fully automated.
- ​E-payment for all Government businesses and transactions are in place.
- ​Business environment in Abia has been made friendlier by harmonization of fees, levies and reduction in multiple taxations. 
-​Loopholes plugged to ensure IGR is beefed up.
- ​Government has made investments in a number of business ventures but has had the sad experience of stale dividends. We arequickly recovering them.
-​We have technologically launched Abia State IGR Central System which allows holistic view of all IGR activities in the State.
-​We have come to a level where people can pay their taxes on line from the comfort of their home through their cards.
- ​Integrated with the Abia Poly and College of Health Technology/State hospitals to the Central System.
-​We have achieved the creation and printing of Automated Consolidated Demand Notices for annual recurring levies and fees. 
-​We have automated the process of assessing and issuing notices on capital gains tax and Stamp Duty for landed property.
-​Integration has also been achieved with ABSAA, TIMAAS on Abia GIS.
-​MDAs revenue windows are centrally co-ordinated and each MDA can view their IGR collections online.
- We operate Electronic Tax Clearance Certificate (ETCC).​​
-​Enlarged the tax–net in the informal sector.
-​The 2016 Statement of Account and Auditor’s Report will soon be released.
Revenue Performance as at 3rd Quarter 2017:
The Recurrent Revenue as at the third quarter of 2017 was observed to be N64,825,743,911.2 representing 59.35% performance upon the budgeted revenue for the year under review.

On the other hand the total Capital Expenditure which largely represents government investment in infrastructure is remarkable. The FAAC, VAT, Derivation and other capital receipts failed short of the State’s expectations. The Internally Generated Revenue did not perform better.

The breakdown is as follows:
Statutory Allocation from:
Federation Account N54,215,494,351.4
Internally Generated Revenue N 10,610,249,559.84


Whereas a total of N109,228,162,580.00 was projected, N64,825,743,911.24 was realised. This comes to 59.44% performance. Howbeit, we were undaunted in doing the best we could to get to the extent our resources could carry us. We are all the more determined to put in place measures to ensure an improvement in Revenue Generation in 2018. This is very important, especially when we look at the dwindling revenue from the Federation Account.

Expenditure Performance:
The overall performance of the Budget as at the end of Third Quarter of 2017 showed we achieved 50.71%. 
We expect considerable increase in the level of expenditure within the 4th quarter, due to the rehabilitation and construction work going on in the State especially in Aba (when we will maximize the advantage of the advent of dry season).

The 2018 Budget:
The Philosophy and Thrust:
It will be recalled that in the 2018 Budget Call Circular, MDAs were, in preparing their draft estimates, directed to address the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) that relate to their Sectors as well as ensuring their proposed projects to reflect the needs of the Communities for whose welfare Government is working. Our 2018 Budget is, therefore, designed in such a way to align our focus (5 Pillars) with the SDGs. In the next fiscal year, 2018, we will not lose any grounds; we will consolidate on the achievements already recorded in the period, 2015 - 2017. Consequently, Government will double efforts to increase the returns on Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). We will expand and improve on our Revenue Windows/base with proper accounting. Additionally some consultants/ Agencies have been engaged to help increase our IGR. Furthermore, all avenues of leakages shall be plugged. Our focus will be to execute projects in the Five Pillars as well as in areas that will have revenue yielding potentials. We are not going to relent in our determination to turn around Aba by the development of the infrastructure that will positively impact on people’s investment. In addition to the foregoing thrust, the macro-Economic Framework that will drive the 2018 budget shall be, but not limited to:
- Efficient utilization of resources to maintain and sustain the level of growth in the State Economy. This will be achieved through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) collaboration;
- Creation of the right business environment by reducing the cost of doing business in the State; 
- Sustenance of Peace and Security in the State;
- Giving Commerce, Industry and Entrepreneurship Developmentgreater attention. SMEs, especially in Aba, will be assisted to boost economic activities;
- Make the State an Investment Destination by providing the enabling environment to make Abia an Investment-Friendly State to attract Direct Domestic and Direct Foreign Investments which will invariably create jobs;
- Reduce the level of State domestic debt profile;
- Tenaciously follow the new Coded Classifications in Public Expenditure Management to enthrone Transparency and Accountability;
- Provide Agro-Inputs (especially fertilizers), seedlings, improved cassava stems as well as Agro-Chemicals at subsidized rates; and partner with the National Root Crop Research Institute, Umudike. 
- Additionally, ensure value addition to our Agricultural Produce to make Agriculture more viable and attractive;
- Transform the Road Network to make transportation of produce easier;
- Develop our Human Capital, enhance value reorientation in our Public Service as well as empower our youth through E4E;
- Address Social Safety Investment Programmes through partnership with the FGN and the World Bank;
- Sustain the improvement already made in our Public Health institutions as well as the Healthcare Service Delivery; and
- Partner with the Private Sector to create economic and educational opportunities.

2018 Budget Theme:
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I present to this Honourable House of Assembly the 2018 Budget christened “Budget of Partnerships and Opportunities”. Given our circumstances in the present uncertainties in the economy of Nigeria which Abia State is part of, this theme reflects our policy direction, objectives and is borne out of the need to apply ourselves to partnerships and opportunities to survive in the face of our weak economy. We need to look beyond our borders in search of viable partnerships and endeavour to take full advantage of the opportunities such collaborations present to keep the State going. We must also take steps to show tenacity, frugality and transparency in our financial management style as partnerships can only be attracted in such financial management climateor milieu. The necessary Policy Guidelines to remove impediments and ensure efficient implementation of the Budget would be put in place. Further details of this Budget will be made public by the Honourable Commissioner for Finance.

The 2018 Budget has an estimated outlay of N140,939,691,765 One Hundred and Forty Billion, Nine Hundred and Thirty-nine Million, Six Hundred and Ninety-one Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-five Naira).This shows 28.15% increase over the 2017 outlay of N111,728,162,580. We marginally increased the total outlay being mindful of the realities of the economy of Nigeria this time. The ratio between our Projected Capital Expenditure and Recurrent Expenditure is 51:49 (i.e Capital Expenditure 54.41% and Recurrent Expenditure 48.59% of the total Budget outlay).
The Breakdown of the 2018 Budget is as follows:
A. Revenue:
We are not expecting a dramatic improvement in the revenue accruing to the State. The face of the economy at the national level has not changed. The realities of the continuous dwindling of the revenue accruing to the country from the major revenue earner (oil) as well as other macroeconomic indices in Nigeria are very much there. All these are evidently going to impact negatively onthe economic activities in the State and by extension the IGR. The estimated Budget Outlay is based on the expected revenue from the Federation Account and Value Added Tax (VAT) sources to be complemented by the projected cash inflow from Independent Revenues, Aids, Grants, Credits and other sources. Our funding gaps will be reduced from expected collaboration arrangements with Private Partnerships and Donor agreements.


(i) Internal Sources:
We will consolidate on our strategy of Direct Bank Lodgment of Electronic Collection System through the Banks to capture and confirm all payments made to the State as it is paying off.
Meanwhile, some agencies have been created and collection consultants engaged to ensure we maximize our revenue collection. Our revenue projection for the year 2018 from internal sources is N29,177,140,960.00 (Twenty-nine Billion, One Hundred and Seventy-seven Million, One Hundred and Forty Thousand, Nine Hundred and Sixty Naira) only.

(ii) External Sources:
We are not unmindful of the fact that even though the Organization of Petrol Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota for Nigeria was not tampered with, the security challenges persisting in the Niger Delta region are preventing Nigeria from meeting the OPEC’s output quota and invariably negatively affecting revenue accruing to her and by extension, FAACallocations. Therefore, our projection is that N50,921,036,894(Fifty Billion and Nine Hundred and twenty-one Million Thirty-six Thousand Eight Hundred Ninety-four Naira) only will accrue to the State from Statutory Allocations of the Federation Account.

EXPENDITURE:
(i) Recurrent Expenditure:
The 2018 Budget proposal for Recurrent Expenditure is N68,479,191,765 (Sixty-eight Billion, Four Hundred and Seventy- nine Million, One Hundred and Ninety-one Thousand, Seven Hundred and Sixty-five Naira) only as against N62,442,783,580 (Sixty-two Billion, Four Hundred and Forty-two Million, Seven Hundred and Eighty-three Thousand and Five Hundred Eighty Naira) only for the previous year, which indicates an increase of 9.77%. The details of the total recurrent expenditure reveal that the Personnel Cost amounts to N32,377,433,770 (Thirty-two Billion, Three Hundred and Seventy-seven Million, Four Hundred thirty-three Thousand, Seven Hundred and Seventy Naira) only while the Overhead Cost is N17,605,857,995.00 (Seventeen Billion, Six Hundred and Five Million, Eight Hundred and Fifty-seven Thousand and Nine Hundred and Ninety-five Naira) only. Also the sum of N7,175,300,000.00 (Seven Billion, One Hundred and Seventy-five Million, Three Hundred Thousand Naira) only is for Consolidated Revenue Fund Charges.​
(ii) Capital Expenditure: 
We have projected the sum of N72,460,500,000.00 (Seventy-twoBillion, Four Hundred and Sixty Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira) only as Capital Expenditure in 2018. The summary of the Capital Expenditure is as follows:
​Administration Sector​​ -​N 5,909,450,000
Economic Sector​​​-​N51,263,850,000
Law and Justice Sector​-​N 379,000,000
​Social Sector​​​-​N14,908,200,000
General Administration:
Our Government is a responsible one and committed to ensuring the welfare of its citizens through deliberate and planned efforts in implementing our developmental objectives.

In 2018, Government shall not fail to embrace reforms and programmes that will make for efficiency in service delivery, adherence to the rule of law, due process and transparency in addition to the well being of our people by providing more socio-economic welfare programmes for the citizenry.

A number of projects which we inherited are still on-going. One of these isthe new Government House for the State. However, owing to the economic realities of our time the work on the projects will now be phased. 
Monitoring is critical tool in governance to save cost and ensure value for money. The machinery for monitoring and evaluation will therefore be sustained and continuously strengthened. The State Planning Commission, the arm of Government responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation of Projects (on-going and new ones) as well as the evaluation of the outcome of such Projects and Programmes, will continue to receive support from this administration.

We shall continue to encourage Human Capital Development through training and retraining of public servants in the State. We shall support Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development Programmes through collaborative efforts with Federal Government and other agencies for serving and about-to-retire staff to help them develop multiple sources of income. 
This Administration will continue to maintain Peace and Security to ensuresafety for lives, investments and business environment. In order to achieve this we will intensify our effort in assisting the law enforcement agencies to enhance their operational effectiveness and efficiency for the good of all residents of Abia State.
Economic Sector:
The new Economic Agenda initiated would be sustained and strengthened in 2018. We are not going to relent in our Youth-Centred Empowerment Programmes. Therefore, we shall pursue with greater vigor the Education for Employment (E4E) and Demand Driven Vocational Skills Programmesaimed at encouraging Skills Acquisition, entrepreneurship and economic empowerment of the youth. I had earlier stated what we achieved through E4E and the N-Power programmes. The year 2018 will witness inflow of both Domestic and Foreign Investors in the State. We believe that we shall concretize our partnerships with the World Bank on YESSO and the Federal Government on National Social Investment Programme. We shall also enter into partnerships with other veritable and viable investors to exploit our numerous natural endowments. 
Agriculture: ​
We all know that Agriculture is a predominant occupation of Abians, involving over 70% of the entire population. Unfortunately, it is still practised at subsistence level, with much drudgery due to low technology adoption. This has come with its attendant low productivity, low Income per Capita, poor livelihood and consequently Food Insecurity for the citizens of Abia in Agriculture as a means of livelihood.

In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) No. 1(to ensure sustainable food production, increased income and better livelihood) and No.2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture), Government is poised to re-engineer the Agricultural Sector which is one of the Five Pillars. This will be by exploring conventional opportunities of improved technologies (Biotechnology, Genetic Engineering and Improved Farm Implements) as well as value addition to attract higher revenue. We have proposed projects in 2018 Budget that will employ improved farm inputs, farming systems, and post harvest processing technologies to increase food production, create jobs and ensure food security.

Micro-credit to farmers (individuals and Cooperative societies) in the State will be sustained. Government will continue to assist farmers by the provision and distribution of high-yielding Cassava Cutting, Maize Seeds, Cocoa and Palm Seedlings to Farmers in the State. The provision and sale of Fertilizers at subsidized rate to enhance yield will remain critical to Government. To achieve the stated goals, Government is ready to partner with relevant bodies at the national and international levels as well as the private sector. Our targets will include but not restricted to:
- increase hecterages of cultivated land with the involvement of the ADP extension services in the Unified Agricultural Extension System and the National Programme for Food Security (NPFS) under the Unilateral Trust Fund (UTF) arrangement of the FAO of the United Nations.
- reduce waste and add value to farm produce through post harvest processing to attract higher revenue;
- provide adequate drugs and biologics in Veterinary Clinics to ensure animal health and quality meat production; and
- attract private investors to the Agricultural Sector in the State. 
The Ministry of Agriculture will be assisted to intensify mechanized Agriculture scheme in the three Agricultural Zones of the State to reduce hunger and poverty. The Ministry will go into Cassava Stem multiplication; as well as encourage other Farmers in the areas of Poultry and Fishery. Government will continue to encourage Farmers to form Cooperatives Societies, train them and provide Micro-credit loans to them and also maintain collaborations with Donor Agencies, Agricultural Grants, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Federal Ministry of Agriculture, National Roots Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, etc.


Infrastructure:
Works and Transport:
Government will ensure the completion of on-going Road Projects in the State especially in the major Urban Cities of Aba and Umuahia and all other parts of Abia State.
Aba is central in our resolve to improve in our IGR because it provides enormous avenue to achieving this. Therefore, it is critical to recover the roads to boost commercial activities to shore up our IGR. Government will also engage in Aggressive Infrastructural Development in our Rural Communities to create access for the evacuation of Farm Produce to the Urban Centres. To this end, Government shall further strengthen her Road Maintenance Agency as well as RAMP for regular rural roads maintenance and interconnectivity to ensure ease of transportation of goods and services. In addition to these we shall provide a total of 170km link roads to major Economic Zones of the State.
We shall ensure effective and efficient management of the Transport Sector. The Ministry of Transport will intensify efforts in creating enabling environment for effective implementation of the State Transport Policy. This will make Public Private Partnership in this Subsector more rewarding. In order to decongest the Urban Centres, PPP arrangements will be entered into to erect Parks in the major Urban Cities of the State and computerized Testing Stations in the 3 Zones. The State Fire Service will be made more functional through procurement of more Fire Engines and Equipment. 
Water Resources: The “Water Must Flow Initiative” will be achieved in 2018.The various Water Schemes will witness greater attention, more so, through interventions and partnerships with Development Partners in urban and Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Projects. Furthermore, we are keying into the World Bank Assisted 3rd National Water Sector Reform Programme of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. We have also established a PEWASH office to take care of the Rural Water Sector Sanitation and Hygiene (a Federal Water Programme). 
Commerce and Industry: We are geared to meet Goal 9 – to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. This Sector, which is one of the pillars and growth drivers of the State economy under the present Administration, will be positioned to inculcate and boost the spirit of entrepreneurship for accelerated economic growth and development. This will be done through increased encouragement to the Private Sector Initiatives/Partnerships to optimally participate in creation of wealth and reduction of poverty amongst Abians. 
We shall also intensify effort to encourage both Domestic and ForeignDirect Investments in the State. 
We shall adopt policies that would promote the growth of Indigenous Entrepreneurs. Our strategy in achieving this will be to encourage and empower Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The Abia State Small and Medium Enterprise Centre created is already at work to help take care of the development needs of the SMEs. We are establishing SME Revolving Credit in collaboration with the Private Sector to serve the set-up and the expansion needs of SMEs. 
Efforts would be intensified to provide Infrastructural Facilities that are critical to industrial growth and development. The Ariaria International market will be expanded through partnership with the Private Sector. We have already entered into talks with Greenfield Company Limited on this.

Efforts would be put in place to ensure the facilities at the Ohiya-Umuogo-Nsukwe Industrial Cluster (housing the Mechanics and Spare parts market) as well as the Ubani Ibeku market are effectively put to use and the excesses of market managements put to check to ensure all revenues accruable to Government are realized. 
Furthermore, the Electronics/Electrical market at Osisioma, the Ovom and Umukalika industrial workshop estate at Aba will be adequately be given attention.
LAW AND JUSTICE: 
Without peace, stability, equal access to justice for all, human rights and effective governance based on the rule of law, sustainable development can not be hoped for. The State will address SDGs No. 16 which aims tosignificantly reduce all forms of violence, and find lasting solutions to conflicts and insecurity. Every effort will, therefore, be made to ensure continued rule of law in 2018. The Judiciary will as always continue to have a free hand in discharging its functions. Government, in the 2018 fiscal year, will give assistance to the Judiciary to achieve speedy administration of justice. The supremacy of the Law, equality of all citizens before the Law and equal protection before the Law in a State will be adhered to. Therefore, we shall target to continue promoting peaceful and inclusive society for sustainable development by ensuring access to justice for and by all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. We shall take steps to upgrade and rehabilitate our Courts in the various Judicial/Magisterial Divisions and Districts to ensure quick dispensation of justice in a congenial environment. This will certainly help in strengthening law and order as well as the administration of justice in the State.
Social Sector:
Health: The State is moved to work and ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages in line with SDG 3. We shall deeply integrate the Health System using Ward Development Committees. Government is committed not just to provide high quality health care service for all, but to make it effective, affordable and accessible with the right Technology, Infrastructure and Manpower.
Our Teaching Hospital, ABSUTH, Aba will be adequately equipped by purchasing Critical Equipment that will upgrade their services such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Machine, CT Scan, Mammogram, Digital X-Ray machine, Ventilators for ICU, Hysteroscopy, etc. This is to enable them scale through every Accreditation Exercise in Postgraduate and Undergraduate Studies. Our Schools of Nursing/Mid-wifery will be upgraded to produce the requisite manpower.
In order to curb degeneration in our Health Sector, the efforts of our Primary Healthcare System will be sustained by equipping the Health Centres built in different parts of the State. The General Hospital at Amachara and Abia State Specialist Hospitals and Diagnostic Centres would be equipped with qualified manpower to enable them function efficiently. This Administration shall continue to collaborate with International Donor Agencies, Private Investors in Healthcare and Local Government Authorities in its bid to reduce Morbidity and Mortality rates due to Communicable Diseases in the State
Furthermore, Government hopes to introduce Insurance for Primary School Pupils and will encourage Abians to buy-in into taking Medical Insurance Policies in order to reduce the burden of medical bills.
Education: Obtaining quality education is the foundation to improve people’s lives and sustainable development especially now that economies are becoming knowledge-based through relevant skills and competences for development of the individual and the society. This administration is mindful of Goal 4 of the SDGs which is achieving inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Therefore we will take Human Capital Development as a critical issue in development. This accounts for why Education is one of the 5 Pillars. In order to achieve functional education in the State, this Administration would embark on Policies and Programmes to accomplish the following:
(i) Free and compulsory Universal Basic Education for all pupils in the State;
(ii) Sustenance of the Free Lunch Programme in our Primary Schools;
(iii) Develop a 15 years Education Sector Plan;
(iiii) Provide/improve Secondary School Infrastructure and Education Management Information System (EMIS) for effective data tracking; 
(v) Provision of conducive teaching and learning environment through the construction, renovation and rehabilitation of classroom blocks in State Primary and Secondary Schools;
(vi) Provision of teaching and learning aids;
(vii) Training and retraining of Teachers to ensure the quality of their products compares favourably with their contemporaries;
(viii) Employ fresh hands to take care of the vacuum occasioned by retirements;
(ix) Private ector participation in Education at all levels;
(x) Entrepreneurship Skills Acquisition and Education for Employment (E4E); and
(xi) Ensure the Tertiary Institutions are adequately equipped to qualify for accreditation/reaccreditation to meet International Standards.
Furthermore, and in line with our focus, this Administration intends to introduce new Courses in Oil and Gas as well as Chemical Engineering among others in Abia Polytechnic. We will also ensure Accreditation of new and re-accreditation of old Courses. 
To help our Students’ performance, improve their reading habits and research, we shall make the E-Library functional and relevant.
Information and Culture:
The usefulness of Proper Information Management Strategy in achieving peaceful and stable society cannot be over emphasized. Government appreciates the need to keep the Citizenry abreast with the goings-on in governance. This cannot be effectively done without good and adequateInformation Machinery in terms of manpower and Information Communication Technology (ICT). Government mass media play the vital role of providing information, education and entertainment and bridging the communication gap between Government and the people. Furthermore,Government will ensure proper staffing, capacity building of staff for a moreeffective coordination of other MDAs involved in information management activities. To this end, in 2018 Fiscal Year, Government will support and strengthen public enlightenment activities with modern digital equipment. Government will revitalize and equip Abia State Printing Press with modern equipment to enable it function more effectively and efficiently. The Broadcasting Corporation of Abia (BCA) and Abia Newspapers and Publishing Corporation would be provided with modern equipment to operate efficiently in this digital broad/telecasting era. 
Our Tourism Sector is largely undeveloped. The opportunities and financial benefits are therefore lost. Government is very much interested in the development this Sector. In 2018, Government will collaborate with Foreign Partners to harness and reposition the Tourism Industry especially to develop Azumiri Blue River and other Historical Sites in the State.
Sports: Sports and sporting activities have now come to play critical role in socio-economic development of our Country. These have provided veritable means of harnessing and developing the untapped talents in our teeming youth. This social sub-sector provides a platform for training, inculcation and acquisition of the right discipline, attitude and skills. It is worthy to note that Abia State is the only State that has 4 (Four) Football clubs in the Country - (2 (Two) Clubs playing in the National League, 1(one) playing in the Local League and 1(one) Female Football Club). In the next Fiscal Year (2018) we will sustain the tempo of funding to these Clubs, especially as it concerns improving the infrastructural facilities while surveying the possibility of entering into partnerships with the Private Sector to improve on their funding, performance and marketing of some of them.

Housing: In as much as Housing is not one of the 5 Pillars it, however,ranks high in the Scale of Enablers. We shall endeavour to complete ongoing projects in 2018. These include work on the:
- International Conference Centre which is at 95% completion; 
- The Ultra-modern Government House; and
- Child and Maternal Healthcare, ABSUTH which is at 65% completion.
We shall be involved in other activities such as:
-​reclaiming 2.5 ha of land for Housing Estate at Ndi Egoro flood Area II, Aba and construction of Obuaku City Housing Estate though PPP.
-​Construction of office complex for Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC);
-​Remodeling of the Civil Service Commission, Local Government/State Audit and Judicial Service Commission buildings.
-​Construction of Dormitory (for Males/Females) and residential building for the Principal and Staff of the School of Mentally Challenged student, near Ibeku Primary School, World BankHousing Estate, Umuahia. 
-​Contruction of additional Secretariat Complex at Ogurube Layout (Block C).
-​Construction of additional 4-bedroom Bungalows at Isieke Housing Estate.
-​Construction of School of Psychiatric Nursing at Umunnato General Hospital.
- Provision of infrastructure at the Isieke Housing Estate; 
Environment: Our Government is People–Oriented and sensitive to the devastation caused by erosion and is determined to improve the well-being and environment of the people. Government, in the 2018 Fiscal Year willintensify effort and continue to coordinate various actions on environmental protection and ensure the sustainability of proper waste management system and City Beautification in Urban, Semi-Urban areas and conservation of natural resources for sustainable development. The Government shall endeavour to secure a quality environment adequate for good health and well-being. 
Sequel to this, the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) will be strengthened to achieve sustainability in the Urban Solid Waste Management System and the environment of our major Cities of Aba and Umuahia. While sourcing for partnerships (local and foreign) to convert our degradable waste to produce power and recycle the non-degradable components, Government will intensify effort in sensitization, educating and creating public enlightenment on environmental awareness. The Primary and Secondary Schools in particular will be the focus of the campaign. Through these efforts the Public will get the full understanding of essential linkages between Environmental Health and Human Development. 
We shall make policies that would secure the ecosystem, ecological processes and preserve biodiversity. The ecological challenges, especially as presented by soil erosion, pose a big threat to our environment. Government through NEWMAP programme (a partnership with the World Bank) will continue to address the challenges of Gully Erosion Sites in 2018. The people of the State will be adequately sensitized on the prevention and control of soil erosion and ecological threats. It is important to note that Government will not take kindly to any person or persons who engage in excavation of sand that could lead to erosion (sheet or gully).

Conclusion:
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members of the House of Assembly, the challenges facing us in the coming year require all of us to work together with tenacity of purpose for economic development of our State. I hereby present before you the 2018 Appropriation Bill as can be carried by the State for your quick consideration and passage. 
Once more, I thank you and indeed all Abians for your cooperation and understanding.
​God bless Abia State.

 

 

Posted on December, 22 2017

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