Clowns: Cross River Allocates Over N15 Million for Wooden Mace Construction in State Assembly

Secrets Reporters

Cross River State has earmarked a staggering sum exceeding N15 million for constructing a wooden mace for the State House of Assembly. The revelation comes from mining the recently approved 2024 budget by SecretsReporters, where the financial details raise eyebrows and prompt questions about the necessity and justification for such expenditure and if the state lawmakers and the government meant well for the citizens of the oil-rich state.

The specific project under scrutiny is listed with the following details:

  • Programme Code and Description: 13100123009400 – Reform of Government and Governance – General
  • Project Description: Construction of Symbol of Authority (Mace)
  • Economic Code and Description: 23040102 – Erosion And Flood Control
  • Function Code and Description: 70111 – EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE ORGANS
  • Location Code and Description: 50910 800 – CALABAR MUNICIPAL

The proposed and approved budget for the construction of the wooden mace is outlined as follows:

  • 2023 Revised Budget: N15,000,000.00
  • 2023 Performance (January to September): 0.00
  • 2024 Proposed Budget: N15,750,000.00
  • 2024 Approved Budget: N15,750,000.00

The Construction of Symbol of Authority (Mace) project falls under the broader program of Reform of Government and Governance, with an economic code oddly associated with Erosion and Flood Control. The location specified is Calabar Municipal.

Recall that in a momentous event that echoed through the political corridors of Cross River State, Senator Bassey Otu assumed the role of the 18th governor after a ceremonial swearing-in held at the U.J Essuene Stadium in Calabar in May 2023. The oath of office, taken alongside his deputy, Rt. Hon. Peter Odey, marked the beginning of a new era for the state. Having previously represented the South Senatorial district in the 8th assembly, Governor Otu delivered an inaugural speech that resonated with promises of a robust administration and a commitment to the well-being of the state’s residents.

Drawing from his extensive experience in the legislative branch, Governor Otu pledged to implement a governance template aimed at serving the people’s best interests. His vision, articulated in that inaugural address, set the stage for a transformative period in Cross River State, promising a strategic approach to governance.

However, amidst these promises, recent developments have unveiled concerns about the financial stewardship of the state. Cross River State currently has seen its external debt skyrocket to a staggering $153,168,738.50 as of June 30, 2023, as reported by the Debt Management Office. This places the state among those burdened with the highest external debt in Nigeria.

Despite the precarious financial position, Governor Otu’s administration has come under scrutiny for what appears to be an extravagant and questionable spending spree. A closer examination by SecretsReporters has exposed a dubious plan concealed within the folds of the N296.985 billion 2024 budget, which was signed into law in December 2023.

Governor Otu, presenting the budget under the banner of a “People First” initiative, allocated a substantial N180 billion for capital expenditure and N116 billion for recurrent expenditure. Astonishingly, this budget surpassed the initially submitted N250 billion by a staggering N96 billion, raising eyebrows and concerns among stakeholders.

Defending the exorbitant increase, Governor Otu justified it as a means to provide financial support for persons living with disabilities. He stressed that this allocation was not merely a fiscal decision but a moral imperative, aiming to address social imbalances among vulnerable groups. According to the governor, the increased budget would pave the way for improved access to healthcare, assistive technologies, education, and tailored employment opportunities for this demographic.

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