It is a common knowledge that Delta State Governor, Sheriff Oborevwori, recently, presented a N714.4 billion Appropriation Bill tagged ‘Budget of Hope and Optimism,’ for the 2024 fiscal year to the Delta State House of Assembly.

What is however uncertain to Deltans and the watching world is whose interest the bill, if passed, is meant to serve or protect? There is also the concern as to whether it will herald into the political geography called Delta State, a just or an unjust law?

As we are now, a just law is ‘a man-made code that squares with moral laws or the laws and uplifts human personalities, while an unjust law on the other hand is a code that is out of harmony with moral laws.’

Going by media reports, the proposed budget as presented among other provisions is made up of recurrent expenditure of N316.6 billion representing 44 percent and capital expenditure of N397.9 billion represents 56 percent of the total budget.

For a better understanding of the piece, it is important at this stage to highlight briefly on the meaning of capital and recurrent expenditures.

From what financial analysts and investors are saying, capital expenditure (“CapEx” for short) is the payment with either cash or credit to purchase long-term physical or fixed assets used in a business’s operations. The expenditures are capitalized and considered an investment in expanding business.

Recurrent expenditure on its part consists of regular expenses that go into the running of an entity (organization or state). These include salaries and allowances paid to employees; operational costs such as travelling and accommodation, telephone, electricity and water bills as well as funding for costs incurred to cover compulsory obligations such as bank charges, interest on official debt, remuneration costs and other services.

From the above explanation, one need not be an economist before internalizing the fact that the proposed budget is a manmade bill and therefore, could be likened to an edifice which can never be perfect but must require systematic structural advancement in line with human changing circumstance and the state’s socio-economic and political priorities, demands and developments.

Beginning with the positive provisions of the proposed budget, aside from its substantial compliance with global notion which insists that for a society, state or nation to develop, its leadership must cede greater attention to capital expenditures than recurrent outflows, the state government’s decision to allocate recurrent expenditure of N316.6 billion representing 44 percent and capital expenditure of N397.9 billion, which represents 56 percent of the total budget, amply portrays the proposed budget as a ‘basket of development expenditures’ that, all things being equal, will engineer pivotal role in the growth of the state.

Without going into concepts, terms and definition, the budget as proposed in the opinion of this piece, well highlighted cost to be incurred by the state in order to create assets that will provide long-term public goods.

Related News

Supporting the above assertion is the declaration by the state Governor, during the budget presentation that the ‘state will embark on the construction of more critical road infrastructure in the 2024 fiscal year with the sum of N150 billion on road infrastructure for the Ministry of Works’.

For me, why the above decision by the Governor and his government cannot be faulted or described as misguided priority is that infrastructure enables development and also provides the services that underpin the ability of people to be economically productive.

Viewed broadly, “good road infrastructure has a huge role in connecting populations to where the work is.” Infrastructure investments help stem economic losses arising from problems such as power outages or traffic congestion.

Another exciting provision by the state’s proposed budget that will significantly assist in restoring the health and vitality of deltans is allocations to other critical sectors. For example, the Health sector will gulp N18.65 billion; Agriculture, N7 billion and Urban Renewal, N7.5 billion, among others.

Undoubtedly, the Governor’s resolve to advance urban-rural integration remains commendable. Also exemplary and impressive were his disclosure that the state earmarked N150billion as personnel expenditure in anticipation of federal government increase in salary in 2024, so that Delta can take the lead in making necessary salary adjustments.

However, on the other side of the ledger, this piece thinks that it will be safe to say that deltans would be genuinely concerned about the budgetary allocation of N46.55 billion to the state’s education sector. Also troubling is the ceding of paltry N1.7 billion to Youth Development, another essential sector by the state’s 2024 budget.

Separate from being meager and coming at a time when the global leaders are standing up in support of UNESCO’s budgetary recommendation on education which calls on member states to fund their education sectors with 4 to 6% of GDP or 15 to 20% of public expenditure, allocation of N46.55 billion to an all-important sector like education, is in my view, a enough prove that the state is now faced with clear and present danger with potential to threaten the future manpower need/provision of the state.

We should equally be concerned, and ask ourselves how we got to this point of relegating to the background; education and youth development, two key sectors that will shape the future of the state? Is the state unaware that these youths captured in these financially starved sectors will provide the manpower and future leadership need of the state?

Utomi is the programme cordinator (media and public policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos