Delta State Governor, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, has sparked outrage by signing a Supplementary Appropriation Bill worth a staggering N71 billion, a mere eight days before his term as governor comes to an end. The bill, which was approved by the House of Assembly, allocates N65.5 billion for capital expenditure and N5.6 billion for recurrent expenditure.
In addition to the controversial appropriation bill, Governor Okowa also assented to eight other bills, namely the Delta State Development and Property Authority Bill, 2022; Delta State Good Governance and Accountability Bill, 2022; Delta State Sickle Cell Disorder Control Bill, 2023; High Court (Amendment) Bill, 2023; Delta State Thanksgiving Day Bill, 2023; Delta State Creative Industry Development Bill, 2023; Delta State Polytechnic Burutu Bill, 2023; and College of Health Science and Technology Bill, 2023.
The timing of this move has raised eyebrows and fueled public outrage, with critics accusing Governor Okowa of rushing to push through significant financial decisions in the twilight of his tenure. Many argue that such an enormous allocation of funds demands careful scrutiny and accountability, which may be compromised by the governor’s imminent departure.
However, the Vice Chancellor of Delta State University, Professor Andy Egwunyenga, disagrees with those who read meaning into the action of the governor, asserting that such interpretations are the product of “politics, ignorance, and mischief.” He emphasizes that budgeting is not determined by the number of days left in office, and encourages individuals to read the letter addressed to the legislature, which explains the reasons behind the decision.
During the signing ceremony, Governor Okowa expressed appreciation for the support and cooperation of the House of Assembly throughout his eight-year tenure. However, the public remains skeptical about the motives behind this last-minute flurry of legislative action, particularly in light of the upcoming transition to a new administration.
While Governor Okowa praised the House of Assembly’s dedication to good governance, critics contend that such expediency may have compromised due process and thorough deliberation. They question whether these bills truly reflect the best interests of the people or whether they were hastily passed to secure the governor’s legacy before he leaves office.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Chief Sherrif Oborevwori, defended the bills, asserting that they underwent the necessary legislative processes. He expressed gratitude to the governor and fellow assembly members for their support over the past six years. However, with the Speaker himself expressing ambitions to transition to the executive branch, skeptics question the potential conflict of interest and whether these bills served as a means to further personal political agendas.
As Delta State anticipates the inauguration of a new governor, the public demands transparency and accountability in the utilization of the significant funds allocated by this supplementary bill. The contentious nature of this last-minute move casts a shadow over Governor Okowa’s legacy, leaving the incoming administration with the challenging task of ensuring that these funds are allocated responsibly and in the best interest of the state.