There is every reason to believe that the Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade is not disposed to conducting the local government election in the state any time soon as he has budgeted only N357, 230,251.19 in 2018 for the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC).
This is a far cry from the N1,562,230,251.19 budgeted for CROSIEC in 2017. Even with his amount, CROSIEC, whose responsibility is to organize local council election, said it did not have enough funds to conduct the long-awaited polls last year.
CROSIEC Chairman, Dr. Mike Ushie, had revealed last year that one of the reasons the polls could not be conducted was lack of funds. Another reason he gave was that there were litigations in court over the polls.
Observers have reasoned that if CROSIEC could not hold the council polls when N1.5 billion was allocated to it in 2017, is it when one fifth of that amount is made available this year that the election will be held?
The tenure of council chairmen expired on 16 December 2016 and since then civil servants have been holding forte as Heads of Local Government Administration in the 18 local government councils in the state.
There are other interesting aspects of the 2018 Budget of Kinetic Crystallization worth highlighting. For instance, N100 million was budgeted for the fuelling of the Calabar Street Light Generator in the 2018 budget, while N58, 625,000.00 was also budgeted for fuelling Obudu Street light generator in 2018. Nothing was budgeted for these items in the 2017 fiscal year.
There is a slight increase in the allocation to the state water board from N3,654,423,361.61 in 2017 to N3,706,412,717.61 in the 2018 budget. It is seen as one of the most notoriously incompetent agencies of government as it has been unable to supply potable water regularly to the residents of the city of Calabar.
It was not surprising that the Managing Director of the agency, Dr. Godwin Igile was recently chastised by members of the state House of Assembly for supplying coloured water to residents and seeing nothing wrong with that. And when the water supplied is not terribly dirty, the taps remain dry for months and residents go in search of water from boreholes sold at exorbitant rate.
The governor maintained the allocation of N38,535,000.00 for the Home Grown School Feeding programme in the 2018 fiscal year. It was the same amount allocated last year.
The budget for the Ministry of Health was also increased by almost N51 billion, from N6,605,523,811.52 in 2017 to N56,979,983,824.96 in 2018.
Ayade Cares, the health insurance, scheme was allocated N10,561,200,000.00 in 2018, while N11,561,200,000.00 was allocated in 2017.
It is difficult to explain why there was no allocation for the Greater Calabar Capital City Development Authority in the budget of 2018 unlike in 2017 when N72 million was allocated to it.
The budget for the Ministry of Agriculture was also slashed in 2018 by more than half from what was allocated in 2017. While N24,370,139,817.00 was allocated in 2017, the amount allocated in 2018 is N11,423,352,376.85.
Other allocations are: Ministry of Works N83,278,383,676.21 in 2018, an increase of almost N10 billion from the 2017 allocation which was N73,094,785,424.29; Road Maintenance Agency: N4,258,934,823.23 in 2018, while N3,149,576,202.50 was allocated in 2017; Waste Management Agency: N3,767,821,191.20 in 2018, while in 2017 the sum of N4,031,321,191.20 was allocated.
Also, Ministry of Education got N30,048,005,365.08 this year while last year it was allocated N18,653,071,881.93; this year SUBEB got N5,846,452,697.84 and in 2017 it got N7,910,222,070.36; CRUTECH was allocated N10,926,753,327.71 in the 2018 budget, while in the 2017 budget, it got N10,086,324,470.38; the Ministry of Youth Development, Orientation & Sports got N8,956,560,356.56 in 2018 and got N1,126,097,848.40 in last year's budget.
The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) was allocated N214,731,491,.39 in 2018 and in 2017, it got N244,141,727.74; and the State Fire Service was allocated N551,707,087.70 this year, while last year it got N704,747,906.36.