Barr. Orji

The commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Barrister Uchenna Orji, has thrown light on the reason Ebonyi state government didn’t give Security the highest budgetary provision in the 2020 budget.

He noted that the state government’s policy on security is proactive not reactive, adding that the present administration provides social security measures which are preventive.

The Commissioner pointed out that any state that gives Security the highest budgetary provision has a serious problem in that area.

Orji made this clarification while fielding questions from journalists at the Executive Council Chambers, on Tuesday during the 2020 budget breakdown by the State Commissioner for Finance.

“We have a contingency in case of any eventuality. But there is not going to be any eventuality because we have provided social security which is employment.

“Ebonyi state is now like a construction site, every part of Ebonyi is busy with work. I went to a place where they are fixing the street lightening, and I saw about 100 youths, I was impressed. After working from morning to night, they will go home very tired and before you know it they are already asleep to wake up the next day to continue their job.

“So if you hear that we have increased our security budget, that means we are not getting it right. Nevertheless, in the Governor’s 2020 budget speech, security is among the five capital prioritized sectors that the governor is addressing. So be rest assured that your security is assured and investors are coming in because we are secured,” he added

On Education, Orji maintained that Ebonyi state was the first to flag off the out of school children program in the country, adding that the state government is injecting N7.6billion to take back to school Ebonyi children who are out of school.

He reaffirmed that 50, 000 children are being targeted by the state government for the programme, noting that in achieving that target, Gov. Umahi has deployed the 64 Development Center Coordinators, 13 local government chairmen and office holders in various wards to ensure that they meet as stakeholders and see how those out of school children in their areas would be taken back to school.

“The governor has also promised free and compulsory eduction for these children and they will be given all the necessary assistance in terms of finance, upkeep to ensure that they go to school.

“They will be rehabilitated and they will be given counselling and teachers will also be equipped to really ensure they are well tutored.

“You need to also appreciate that beyond formal education, the governor is doing enough in the semi formal education, that’s the Agricultural Vocational Institute, the Gifted Children Academy even Adult Education”, Orji added

On his part, the State Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development, Prof. Ogbonnya Chukwu revealed that the construction of Abakaliki ring roads which cut across eight Local Government Areas of the State, would begin March 2020, as it was captured in the next year’s budget.

Chukwu who assured that plans have been concluded to that effect, noted that the project would be funded with the $70m loan Ebonyi government secured from the African Development Bank (AFDB) and the $80m loan gotten from Islamic Development Bank (IDB), making it a total of $150m loan.

He pointed out that the increase in the capital budget was due to the borrowing from the African Development Bank (AFDB) for the construction of the state ring roads, adding that negotiation with IDB was in advance stage and would soon be completed like that of AFDB.

“On the issue of funding the ring roads, remember that we approached two banks. One is African Development Bank (AFDB). We signed an agreement with them. I signed on behalf of the State Government. They are to give us $70m.

“Remember also that we are not taking the loan directly from AFDB. It is the Federal Government that is taking it and giving to us. And that is why it is going to be warehoused in the CBN.

“The totality of the money we need to completely do the ring roads is $150m. The balance of $80m is coming from Islamic Development Bank (IDB). That of AFDB we have concluded negotiation and every document signed.

“That of Islamic Development Bank, last month, we concluded discussion with them and minutes signed and sent back to their base in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. So, the next leg of it is to finally sign the agreement.

“The reason why the aspect being funded by AFDB has not yet commenced is that the Governor in his wisdom was insisting the ring road must be constructed on rigid concrete pavement because that was what was agreed.

“But somewhere along the line, an issue came up that it will have to be on asphalt which the Governor disagreed. The Governor told them that what he promised Ebonyians was rigid concrete pavement and won’t do less than that or they should hold their money.

“But the issue has been resolved. It is going to be constructed on 7 inches rigid concrete pavement and asphalt. The construction will commence essentially on March 2020”, he affirmed.

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