Budget presentation has been an annual ritual where estimates of proposals for the intending fiscal year are going to hinge their incomes and expenditures for the execution of the Government policies and programmes in one year are based. It is an occasion which attracts the leadership and members of the Honourable House, members of the Judiciary, the great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its leadership, the traditional and religious leaders, business class, the Elders, security agencies, politicians, the civil servants, members of the press and the esteemed development partners, the UN System, Bilateral and Multilateral Agencies, the International Financial Institutions, Foundations and NGOs were in attendance.
In same development, Gombe state has every cause to continue to thank the Almighty God for the relative peace they have enjoyed and are continuing to enjoy despite the security challenges in the North-East region. With their cooperation and steadfastness, the administration is able to provide the needed governance/ stewardship to the people of the State by ensuring equity, fairness and contributing to improved quality of lives of the people of the state through deliberate government actions of formulating policies and executing projects and programmes.
It was based on this premises that on thursday 22nd December, 2016, the Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Damkwambo presented 2017 Budget proposal to Honourable House tagged “Budget of Sustainability” of Eighty-five Billion, Five Hundred and Ninety-five Million, Four Hundred and Sixty-Nine Thousand, Five hundred and Seventy-Three Naira, Five Kobo ( #85,595,469,573,05) made up of Fifty-five Billion, Eight Hundred and Ninety-Five Million, Eight Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand Naira (#55,895,865,000,00) as the recurrent revenues, Forty-Five Billion, Eight Hundred and Forty-Six Million, Five Hundred and Fifty Thousand, Four Hundred and Twenty-Five Naira nine-five kobo(#45,846,550,425,95) as the recurrent expenditure while Thirty Billion, Nine Hundred and Twenty-Four Million, Two Hundred and Four Thousand, Five Hundred and Seventy-Four Naira (#30,924,204,574,00) as capital receipts and Thirty-Eight Billion, Two Hundred and Seventy-Four Million, Three Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, One Hundred and Forty-Seven Naira Ten Kobo (#38,274,319,147,10) as the capital expenditure.
In implementing the budget, a budget deficit of Seven Billion, Eight Hundred and Fifty Million Naira (#7,850,000,000,00) is envisaged which shall be financed by internal and external borrowing while it is so tagged “Budget of Sustainability” because their development efforts cannot be meaningful or useful to the people of the State if their subsequent performance are not built on their choices and priorities achieved during their first term from office in May 29, 2011 to 2015 as well as in consonance with the global development agenda, the “Sustainable Development Goals” which emphasizes sustainability of all development efforts.
The focus for the 2017 fiscal year is the continued transformation of the education sector, the continued provision of physical infrastructure that make economic and social activities viable for the people, the implementation of social transformation and safety Net programmes especially for the Youth, Women, the SMEs and the entire people of the state and the continued agricultural transformation that makes commercial and small holder farming viable and attractive as a means of diversifying the economy of the state.
Others are progressive employment generation programmes for the teeming unemployed youths, women, people with disability and the rural poor, Sustained development assistance partnership with the Bilateral and Multilateral Partners, Foundations, NGOs, (Local and International) and the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Re-enforcement of the Integrated Community Based Development Initiatives, Continued human capital development and institutions strengthening for the delivery of needed services for the people of the state, continued attention to addressing the environmental challenges and ensuring continued peaceful co-existence, and a secure State for the people to live in.
From the budgetary allocation estimates, the recurrent budget has 53.7% of the budget allocations, while the capital expenditure represents 46.3% of the budget size. The capital budget sectoral allocation is composed of the Economic Sector with 58.7%, Social Sector with 33.9%, General Administration 4.7% and Law and Justice with 2.5% while the 2017 budget is prepared in tune with the current economic realities of ensuring the completion of all on-going projects while only implementing new projects that are critical for the socio-economic development of the state.
In education, the Governor said that they have taken deliberate action of turning around the education sub-sector through the renovation and construction of primary and secondary schools physical infrastructure, equipping the schools, provision of learning materials, standardization of the school intake system, recruitment of teaching staff, and retraining of the existing staff and they also ensured the school enrollments remain high and the learning environment are conducive.
“We have upgraded and renovated our schools to met accreditation standards for the conduct of WAEC, NECO and NABTEP examinations. These efforts have improved the up-take of our pupils and students in primary and secondary schools. It has also led to improvement in students’ performance and enabled them to gain admission into tertiary institutions”.
In 2017, the sum of Four Billion, Four Hundred and Twenty Million, Three Hundred and Thirty-Nine Thousand, One Hundred and Forty-Seven Naira, Ten Kobo (#4, 420, 339, 147, 10) is allocated to the education sub-sector for investment.
In Higher Education, our priority attention to primary and secondary education is to feed our tertiary institutions with quality candidates for admission. To ensure this, the Governor explained that they encouraged Gombe State University to operate optimally by providing infrastructure and teaching staff and they have succeeded in converting the schools of Nursing and Midwifery and Health Technology to Colleges and their accreditation by the National Examinations Board. In order to provide opportunities for graduates of secondary schools, they established the Gombe State Polytechnic at Bajoga, the College of Legal and Islamic Studies at Nafada, the Girls schools of Basic and Remedial Studies at Dan Fulani. The Ministry of Higher Education has set up the machinery for the establishment of the following additional institutions: Gombe State University of Science and Technology, Gombe State College of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Gombe State College of Accounting and Management Studies, Gombe State Institute of Journalism and Gombe State Institute of Sport. These are in addition to Gombe State College of Education, Billiri, School of Basic and Remedial Studies in Kumo, Gombe State Polytechnic in Bajoga and College of Legal and Islamic Studies in Nafada.
I want to state that with the attention given to the health sub-sector, the people of the state have witnessed increased health care services. The renovation, construction and equipping of primary and secondary health care facilities along with equipping them, provision of drugs and staff have increased the confidence of the people in the health care services we provide across the state and they would continued to encourage the students to read medical science courses to support the health care facilities. The Gombe State Primary health Care Development Agency ( GSPHCDA) has fully taken-off and is providing the needed services for the functioning of the primary health care centers (PHC) and Systems while Two Billion, Five Hundred and Seventy-one Million, Four Hundred Thousand Naira (#2,571,400,00,00) has been earmarked for the health sub-sector. The role of the civil service in translating their plans and progragrmmes into action is highly appreciated. In recognition of this role, the administration has continued to meet the needs of the civil service within available resources and we have continued to reward hard work and professionalism through promotion, training and retraining of the civil servants for higher productivity.
The Governor added that they embarked on verification and biometric data capturing of the workers in the state with the sole aim of ascertaining the actual workforce and also to enable them pay workers as and when due and not to punish anyone but the reports reaching him from the exercise though disturbing, shows that Government is achieving the expected outcome and corrective measures are being put in place to ensure they have workforce data that is reliable. The truth is that the exercise is being conducted in the interest of genuine honest civil servants and also for the progress of Gombe State and he therefore called on all civil servants to be serious with their records and actions as that will enable the Government reciprocate the good services they are rendering.
To encourage the civil service, we have instituted a merit award scheme that is aimed at promoting hard work and stimulating the desired outcomes and we have also ensured the promotion of qualified and deserving workers and their appointments in the civil service had been strictly based on merit and shall continue to remain so.
Moreso, the challenges facing the economy which affects the resource inflow to the nation and the State has made them to consciously re-evaluate their financial strategy in order to meet the needs of the people. Our funding and expenditure pattern is carefully planned to meet the financing of our infrastructure development and governance process.
The Board of Internal Revenue in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Planning should proactively come up with Revenue Generation and Management Strategies and drive that will contribute to increasing our internally generated revenue (IGR) base. The Stable political atmosphere in Gombe State has remained a source of encouragement to the administration. The giant strides they took and the feats they achieved for the State are the results of their political maturity and perseverance. On the part of this administration, they are resolutely determined to continue to provide the dividends of Democracy for the people of Gombe State. The level playing ground they ensured for all politicians has made Gombe State a stable polity and a post-election violence-free state, making it model and the Governor has continued to sincerely call on politicians to close ranks and work together for the progress and development of Gombe State while the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt Hon Abubakar Nono promise a speedy deliberation and passage of the budget into law in order to ensure that the people of the state shall continued to enjoy the dividends of Democracy and for the Government to execute its cherished policies and programmes for the betterment of the state.