This disturbing trend, according to the Director of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development(Centre LSD), Dr Otive Igbuzor, in his welcome address at a one-day Voice to the People(V2P)Policy Dialogue on Anambra state 2015 Budget and Emerging Issues in Awka yesterday, exists irrespective of the fact that the state is renowned for extensive commercial activities, with Onitsha and some other cities having highly developed distributive wholesale and retail markets where nearly two-thirds of men/women are self-employed.
The state government, he added rakes in so much in internally generated revenue from all these sources monthly, but unfortunately over the years the duty-bearers and service providers are not delivering.
This failure in the face the high population density of Anambra state, Dr Igbuzor noted, coupled with a high rate of urbanization leads to overcrowding, resulting in pollution, diseases, social vices, congestion, housing shortages, unemployment, inadequate solid-waste management; infrastructure; access to safe drinking water, and land for agriculture amongst other shortages.
To, stem and check this ugly trend and see improved social, political and economic well-being and better quality services across the state, therefore, Dr Otive counseled, the people must hold duty bearers to account. This, he believes would lead to improved responsiveness and service delivery, supported by evidence-based learning and advocacy.
The V2P Dialogue, Dr Igbuzor disclosed, was conceptualized to influence policies and practices in the state that would support the best enabling environment for improved service delivery. It would ultimately enable vulnerable communities to have a voice, act effectively to decisions affecting the and thereby improve their general well-being as a result of improved service delivery.
He bemoaned that notwithstanding, V2P Dialogue remains a platform to examine the content of public policies and institutions that formulate and implement them, with a view to examining the implementation and impact of the policies, neither the executive nor the legislative arms of the state government bordered to send a representative. This was not the first time, despite a very formal invitation.
However, the Dialogue has offered to again provide them with the communique on the outcome of the day's deliberations which took a key note lecture from a lecturer from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Dr Uzochukwu Amakom, titled Anambra State Budget and Budgeting 2015: Emerging Issues.
Other issues raised from the state's 2015 Budget included the hurried manner of its passage and the serial lumping of figures under dubious sub-heads and headings. That it was presented on Nov 24,2014 and passed supersonically on Dec 10,2014, thereby leaving citizens outside the legislature and executive corridors wonder how these figures were defended and explained, when, how and by whom.
Another area that attracted so much attention of the Dialogue was unilateral increment of the votes for the office of the governor by the state Assembly by about N1billion. This leaves big doubt in the minds of the citizens about the quality of individuals that populate the Assembly whether they have the basic knowledge of the critical indices involved and purpose of budget. That the public is often informed of budget proposals, but the state never carries out budget breakdown, appraisal forum to assess the performance at any time, till another fiscal year comes around.
Dr Amakom wondered why despite the continuous slide in the price of oil at the international market, and where key other world oil exporters pegged their 2015 sales at $42 per barrel (pbd) and below, Nigeria presented an over ambitious rate of about $65pbd. And that now that slide has continued, those nations have reviewed their budgets whereas Nigeria and all the 36 states that depended heavily on oil revenue for her income have not.
From Chuks Collins, Awka