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COVID-19: Delta Gov. Okowa leaves daughter’s N400m budget untouched, trims other offices’ allocation



Ibori loot: Delta govt writes Buhari
Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa

Despite cutting down the budget of other ministries and parastatals following the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the state, the Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has refused to trim down the whopping N400 million which he allocated to his daughter’s office in the state’s 2020 budget, THE WITNESS reports.

This is even as the governor’s daughter, Marilyn, is the only senior special assistant (SSA) who has a budget allocated to her office. The governor had in October 2019, appointed his daughter as his SSA on Girl-child Education, an office with less relevance to the current challenges facing the state.

The state government had announced of its plans to review the state’s 2020 budget to reflect economic realities occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the state’s commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, “we needed to take a second look at the 2020 budget as well as take other decisions that will make life much better for our people.

“Hence, critical ministries will begin to take a look at the different projects they were handling with a view to giving value to the people and ensuring that even beyond the COVID-19, the economy was kept safe and sound.

“In view of this, the exco took a second look at the 2020 budget with a view to knowing how we can prioritise.

“The 2020 budget took into cognisance certain parameters like the budget benchmark on oil price at 57 dollars per barrel and other indices.

“But, going by the present realities triggered by two principal factors – the drastic reduction in oil price in international market which has fallen far below the projected estimates used in putting together the 2020 budget.”

However, findings by THE WITNESS revealed that as against the advice of the Delta State commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr. Barry Gbe, the governor daughter’s office was the only budget not touched in the revised 2020 budget signed into law by Governor Okowa recently despite the high rates of poverty, unemployment and poor infrastructural development in the ‘Big Heart state’.

The chief press secretary to Governor Okowa, Olisa Ifeajika in his reaction argued that the budget of the governor’s daughter’s office was trimmed down. But when THE WITNESS presented him a copy of the reviewed budget, he backtracked and questioned our reporter: “why are you not reporting the roads the governor has constructed?’ 

The Delta State House of Assembly had in December 2019, passed the state Appropriation Bill of N395 billion for 2020. The bill which was shrouded in secrecy from the public has many less important and unnecessary provisions embedded into it.

This newspaper had reported that despite receiving a little over N755 billion from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) from 2016 till date and huge internally generated revenue (IGR), Delta State has continued to trail other states in developmental strides.