Despite the fight against corruption and the efforts by many state governments to ensure that taxpayers money are judiciously used by presenting people-oriented budgets, the long-aged tradition of budget padding and the activities of most political officer holders has over the years undermined these efforts.
A clear case is the 2019 budget of Akwa Ibom State-approved by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 118 days after Governor Udom Emmanual stated during the budget presentation that new strategies such as expanding the revenue base of the state by eliminating wastage and leakages in expenditure would be adopted in the implementation of the budget.
Irrespective of its good intent, the Budget of Industrialisation for Poverty Alleviation as tagged by Mr Udom may actually be a divvy for political office holders especially members of the State House of Assembly as findings revealed that from the approved 2019 State budget of N672.98B in which a total of N11,966,310,580 (Eleven Billion, Nine Hundred and Sixty Six Million, Three Hundred and Ten Thousand, Five hundred and Eighty Naira) was earmarked for the operations of the State house of assembly, a rather questionable amount of N5,150,000 (Five Million, One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) was approved for the procurement of ceremonial robes for the Speaker, his Deputy, the Clerk, and the Sergeant-at-arms.
A simple calculation from this shows that each robe for the four officers of the Akwa Ibom state house of assembly will cost about N1,287,500 (One Million, Two hundred and Eighty-Seven Thousand, Five hundred Naira) of taxpayers money.
Interestingly, these robes SecretReporters also learned are intended to be worn on special occasions and ceremonies with specific budgeted amount attached to them. These days include the Opening and closing of the legislative year with an approved budget of N60,000,000, the Independence/Democracy Day celebrations at N30,000,000, and another N30,000,000 for the legislative week celebrations.
In the mind boggling budget, the lawmakers appropriated a staggering sum of N9 million for the architectural design of the assembly gateman house and N3 million to demolish the old one while the construction of three gatehouses will cost tax payers the sum of N20,000,000 each all amounting to N72,000,000.