The 2016 budget of Ondo State which is the seventh in the series of the state’s Budget of a ‘Caring Heart’ under the leadership of Governor Olusegun Mimiko, has, as usual, attracted comments and analysis by experts and political actors. The budget which has earned for itself the toga of an exemplary budget for other states, has however, come under attack by no less a party than the Ondo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The budget which seeks to crown the success story of the governor in the last seven years, was borne out of the desire to ensure that after having put Ondo State on the map of unprecedented progress and socio-economic advancement, the state does not grapple with debts after the governor might have left office.
This strategy is, no doubt, laudable as Ondo State has witnessed a Midas touch from Mimiko.
From the health sector where the state has won global recognition and become a haven for those seeking healthcare even of the most advanced type, with the numerous health initiatives of the current governor, which include the Abiye Safe Motherhood, Agbebiye, Orirewa, Trauma Centre, Kidney Care Centre, Mother and Child Hospital; to the massive renewal of Akure, the capital city, where the Arakale Road has been dualised, the Oba Adesida Road upgraded and garnished with road furniture and streetlights and the Fountain roundabout, Ondo State has lived up to ‘The Sunshine State’ tag it bears.
The commitment of Governor Olusegun Mimiko to the infrastructural development of the state even made him go the extra mile of working federal roads that dot the state. This much was acknowledged by the current Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi, who recently paid a courtesy visit to the Iroko on plans to reimburse Ondo State the whopping sum of N11bn it spent on federal roads in the state.
To prove that his desire to ensure the capital city wears a new look is not a knee-jerk approach to urban renewal, the governor carefully carried out the building of a modern Democracy Park, Auto Mart, Modern Motor Park, Mechanic Village, Neighbourhood Markets, mega schools, the International Event Centre (The Dome) among others.
The numerous visitors trooping into the state for one service/opportunity or the other is an eloquent testimony to Ondo being a choice destination for many. This has also given an unprecedented boom to the hospitality business in the state.
The mega schools are not only mega in structure, they are well equipped with spacious classrooms, modern computer classes, well stocked libraries, exotic ambience, well trained teachers, and school buses that convey about 54,000 students of both public and private schools daily to and fro school free of charge.
This is coupled with the payment N350m for various external exams for students by the government.
At the tertiary level, the Adekunle Ajasin University is rated as the best state university in Nigeria while the Ondo State University of Science and Technology continues to play strong roles in the training of future scientists. This is in addition to the University of Medical Sciences that is equally a world-class training ground for future medical doctors and other healthcare professionals.
As if these were not enough, about 2,000 youths have been trained under the state’s Agricultural Entrepreneurship Scheme and are now operating their own agro-business. In addition, 3,513 recruitments have been made into the state civil service as a way of providing employment for the people and strengthening service delivery to the populace.
Having done all these and more, Govenor Mimiko, in the 2016 budget thought it wise, and rightly so too, to complete more of the projects which have already taken off rather than embark on new ones.
In all reasonableness, this is the best thing any sensible citizen would expect his governor to do especially as the governor is in his last year of service to the people. As a result, from the total budget sum of N118.9bn, the sum of N50.99bn has been earmarked for this purpose while the sum of N15.850bn has also been earmarked to service debt.
So, the description of the budget by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state as a fraud and deceit, is opposition politics of falsehood taken too far with the aim of pitting the people against their governor. However, this pharisaic approach to politics cannot go far as the people themselves who are the direct beneficiaries of Mimiko’s numerous laudable projects cannot be deceived!
One can only tell a blind man that there is no oil in the soup but you cannot tell him that there is no salt!
The people of neighbouring Osun State where APC is ruling are wishing loudly that Mimiko is their governor. So, APC can no longer continue to deceive the people in Ondo same way they did during the 2015 general elections that made Nigerians vote a non-existent “change” that has left them regretting.
It is even most laughable and ridiculous that the APC in Ondo State could be asking Mimiko’s administration to learn from the “pro-people budget of the APC-controlled federal government”. This is the height of sickening sycophancy!
To ask the governor to take a cue from the federal government budget which has been rightly termed #BudgetOfYams, #BudgetOfEmbarrassment, #BudgetOfCorruption etc shows that those who wield the broom in Ondo State are not in touch with reality, or that they are just playing to the gallery, making noise only to be heard without making any sense.
Which federal budget are they even talking about? Is there any budget right now? The budget has since been withdrawn, and God forbid that the people of Ondo State would be given the kind of federal budget that has become the most presented, most re-presented, most missing, most found, most padded, most withdrawn, most investigated and most suspended in the history of Nigeria.
To wish Ondo people that amounts to double jeopardy, and no party that claims it loves Ondo people will ask its governor to take a cue from such an anti-people budget!
Rather, one would advise the federal government to learn from the Iroko how meaningful and impactful budgets are prepared and operated. With Mimiko, Ondo State cannot be luckier.
Jude Ndukwe is a political analyst. He tweets from @stjudendukwe.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.