Imo 2024 budget: Uzodimma’s office to spend N6.9 million on refreshments daily

DESPITE attributing less than four per cent of its 2024 budget to health, Imo state allocated N2.3 billion to refreshments for its governor, Hope Uzodimma. A breakdown of this figure shows that Uzodimma is entitled to N6.9 million every day for refreshments if the budget is fully implemented. 

The budget which was passed by the Imo state government in December 2023 for the 2024 fiscal year amounted to N592 billion.

While it was being passed by members of the State House of Assembly, majority leader Kanayo Onyemaechi applauded the budget, saying it would aid a lot of development, as over 80 per cent of the sum was channelled towards capital projects.

Uzodimma also promised to be prudent with state funds, saying projects would be executed under scrutiny.

“Prudent and efficient management of public funds is the new norm that cannot be compromised,” the governor said.

But a closer look at the budget shows that the state allocated N2.3 billion to refreshments for the governor, Uzodimma throughout 2024.

This means that Uzodimma is entitled to about N192 million in a month and N48 million every week for refreshments.

A further breakdown shows that the budget provides Uzodimma with almost N6.9 million every day for refreshments.

While the governor is entitled to this much for his daily refreshments, the state’s health sector received just 3.9 per cent of the total budget which is N22.8 billion.

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This amount is higher than the allocation for the sector by some other states in Nigeria, however, Imo ranks very low in terms of the percentage set aside for health compared to its total budget.

Funding of the health sector by states and the federal government has remained a critical issue in Nigeria, and medical workers consistently lament poor remuneration and working conditions.

This has contributed largely to brain drain in the health sector resulting from a mass emigration of medical workers to other countries for greener pastures, and only less than 45 per cent of registered doctors in Nigeria renewed their annual licenses in 2023.

In protest against working conditions in the country, Nigerian doctors practising in Nigeria have embarked on many strike actions, which mostly leave citizens suffering a lack of healthcare access.

Due to these challenges, the budget for healthcare in the country is often being used as a measure of value placed on the people’s welfare.

This perception is further reinforced by the Abuja declaration, which had leaders of countries under the African Union (AU) agree to allocate 15 per cent of their annual budget to health  —a target that Imo state is far from reaching.

Uzodimma’s refreshments: more than one-tenth of the state health budget

The amount to be spent on refreshments by the governor alone is nearly the entire sum budgeted for the same purpose during the entire year. It is also more than one-tenth of Imo’s health budget.

The state budgeted a total of N2.365 billion for refreshments in 2024.

While N2.3 billion was earmarked for the governor’s refreshments throughout the year, the remaining N65 million was split between the House of Assembly Service Commission and five other Ministries.




     

     

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    The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs got N26 million for refreshments. N15 million was allocated to the Judicial Service Commission and N10 million to the House of Assembly Service Commission for the same purpose.

    The Office of the Head of Service received N8 million, while the Ministry of Information and Strategy and the Ministry of Public Orientation and Religious Affairs each received N3 million for refreshments in 2024.

    The amount set aside for Uzodimma’s refreshment is more than the sum budgeted for the purchase of health and medical equipment, to which the state government allotted less than N1.4 billion.

    It is also nearly three times the N800 million budgeted for the rehabilitation and repair of hospitals and health centres in the state.

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    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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