Ortom presents 2023 budget estimates, states achievements on education, health, investment, infrastructure, others

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom today presented the 2023 budget estimates to members of the State House of Assembly in Makurdi.

Below is the governor’s budget speech:



I count it a great honour and privilege to present today the Benue State Government Budget Estimates for Fiscal Year 2023 to our highly esteemed House of Assembly for consideration and appropriation. As today is my last budget address to the Assembly before the end of my Administration in May, 2023, let me start by thanking God for not only this historic occasion but also for how far He has brought us over these past seven-and-half years.

2.We continue to give thanks and praise to God for His divine protection of our people and our land against all kinds of existential threats over these years. We have survived the worst of the siege by terrorist Fulani herdsmen, the disruptions of the COVID-19 Pandemic, two economic recessions, an unfriendly and unsupportive Federal Administration and ever worsening nationwide macro-economic conditions. I especially commend and appreciate the good people of our State for their resilience and steadfast resolve to keep faith with us, twice trusting me with their mandate to lead our State through these trying times. Their unflinching support has been a great source of strength and encouragement through all the ups and downs of these years.

3.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, while our State has faced its toughest challenges over the course of our Administration, we have also recorded remarkable and historic triumphs along the way. Although it has been very fulfilling going around the State to commission some of the numerous projects we have invested in, our achievements transcend the construction of physical infrastructure projects. In these last several months of our tenure, we will continue to commission as I go around thanking our people in person. We also remember our colleagues, families and friends that we have lost in the course of our collective struggle for Benue and pray God for His peace and comfort.


4.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the year 2022 was expected to be the year that the country would recover from the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Needless to say the reality has been different. Instead of a year of job-creating economic growth, the country’s challenges seem to be growing in size and complexity. Terrorist attacks and insecurity have worsened, as highlighted by the traumatic nightmare of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack and the brazen Kuje Prison break. Ethno-religious tensions have been needlessly stoked by heartless attacks such as the brutal killing of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto and the insensitive decision of the All Progressives Congress to field a Muslim-Muslim after years of similarly insensitive actions by the APC-controlled Federal Government. Meantime, youth unemployment, inflation and the cost of living are at historic levels. The country’s currency is in free fall, with a Dollar now exchanging for nearly One Thousand Naira. So instead of relief for our people, there is a nationwide state of helplessness that has led many to wish that the 2023 elections were sooner.

5.In Benue State, we have been striving hard to preserve and defend our status as the ‘Food Basket of Nigeria’ in the face of the terrorist herdsmen siege on our State. These terrorists have continued to attack our people and our land at will, sacking whole communities across the State, mercilessly killing, maiming and raping without let. Thousands have been killed and billions of Naira have been lost in property and income. Nearly two million persons have been displaced from their communities and have had to move in to makeshift IDP Camps or with relatives and people of goodwill. Their forced absence from their lands and their farms has affected our agricultural output and Value Chain development. Despite the serious implications of the continued siege for human and food security, the Federal Government has not heeded our plea to take decisive measures to stop these terrorists and to secure the safe return of our people to their ancestral lands. It should be obvious that our country cannot afford to add food insecurity to the worsening rates of inflation, poverty, unemployment, insecurity and hopelessness.

6.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I am sure you will agree that this was not what we envisaged when we sought political office. For me, when I first became Governor of Benue State in 2015, my vision was to help grow the State as an economically self-reliant federating unit of Nigeria. As a former Federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, I knew that Government’s role was to do everything necessary to create an enabling environment for investment and business. Also as someone with a background in the Private Sector, I was conscious that the Private Sector was the engine of growth. I had first-hand experience of this as a domestic investor with the second largest industrial investments in the State, with interests in agricultural production and processing, fertilizer blending and plastics, among others. I believed that Private Sector-driven growth was the surest way to create jobs and wealth for shared prosperity, especially after previous attempts by the State Government to directly spearhead industrialization had largely failed. I therefore focused my Administration on providing an enabling environment for Private Sector-driven agro-industrial development.

7.Of course, we focused on Agro-Industrial development because agriculture is the mainstay of Benue’s economy and our area of comparative advantage. Over 80% of our estimated 6.77m population is into farming. Over 95 percent of the State’s 34,000sq km of land is arable and can grow almost all tropical crops. The quality and diversity of crops produced in our State has rightly earned us our nickname as the ‘Food Basket of Nigeria’. And the blessings of our land extend to an abundance of other natural resources. Benue State is estimated to be home to a sizeable number of about 34 solid minerals found in Nigeria, with limestone, Gold, Baryte, Salt among those already identified as commercially viable here. River Benue, which lends the State its name, is the second largest inland body of water in Nigeria. The potential exists to grow an agro-industrial economy that will make Benue an economically self-reliant federating unit of Nigeria.

8.It was to that end that I committed my Administration towards transforming our agriculture from household operations by smallholders with simple implements to mechanized commercial farming and agribusiness that can generate yearlong employment and wealth. Our objective was to modernize agricultural production and develop the value chain, with improved aggregation and storage, processing, packaging, standardization, certifications, and marketing. We recognized that local private investors who can run commercial farms and processing industries were few and their investments and output were not of the level required to meet the huge national demand and or export to foreign markets. Our Government-owned Agro-Industrial Enterprises that had been established to kick start and support the agro-industrial revolution had historically been mismanaged and were now mostly moribund. The pressures on the State Budget limited the scope for further interventions to revive these Enterprises, as the State Government could barely afford to procure and distribute a modest number of subsidized Tractors to Medium Scale Farmers and other inputs (mostly Fertilizers, Chemicals, and Extension Services) to our large population of smallholders. Hence we sought to bring in Private Partners to help revive the Enterprises and boost the linkages with our smallholders as we march towards our Agro-industrial future.

9.For most of the last seven years, these smallholders and their communities and farms have been under siege by invading terrorist herdsmen. These heartless invaders attack, kill, rape, maim and burn at will, destroying farms and other properties. They have sacked numerous communities across the State, with 21 of the 23 LGAs having suffered at least one attack. Thousands have been killed, and nearly two million persons have been displaced and are either in makeshift camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or living with people of goodwill in other communities. The Federal Government, which has sole constitutional responsibility for the armed security agencies, has been unable or unwilling to take the definitive measures required to prevent these attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice. The Federal Government has also not fulfilled any of the promises it made in January 2018 to provide N10b for rehabilitation and recovery of the IDPs and to secure their communities for their return. Our State and our people have effectively been abandoned to their fate, to swim or sink, without any of the help that has been extended to other areas of the country with relatively fewer numbers of IDPs.

10.Yet in all this we have not despaired or given up. Instead, we have persevered in our collective mission to lay the foundation for a prosperous agro-industrial economy in the heartland of Nigeria. We have adopted innovative and strategic actions to overcome the challenges and become one of the cherished investment destinations in Nigeria.

11.We have enacted the Laws and institutionalized the governance systems to create an enabling environment for investment and business. We have enacted Laws and created institutions that have helped to improve our security and public safety and are among the 10 safest States in Nigeria, as assessed by the US State Department. We have built transport infrastructure and improved human capital through investments in education, health and skills development. We have automated land and property registration and undertaken other investment climate reforms that have made Benue the most business-friendly State in the central region of Nigeria, according to a recent KPMG Survey of the ease of doing business in Nigeria. The survey also recognises Benue as being among the top 10 States in Nigeria for the technical and professional skills of its labour force.

12.There has been a positive response from investors and Development Partners, notably in agricultural production and processing as well as skills development. It is clear that they are encouraged by the several enabling factors, including our strong governance and security institutions, availability of fertile land, a young and skilled work force, domestic and external markets, low operating costs, good transport links and our friendly policy and regulatory context.

13.Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, I am relieved to report that our State has continued to make steady progress in spite of the difficult development context, thanks to the grace of God, the resilience of our people and the determination of our Administration. Indeed it is remarkable that we have been able to record considerable advances in laying the foundation for accelerated economic development in the face of unprecedented obstacles that no other Administration in the history of the State has faced, including a debilitating 6-year terrorist siege, millions of IDPs, two economic recessions, a disruptive pandemic and an unfriendly Federal Administration.

14.Despite these challenges, we have completed numerous projects in the areas of infrastructure, human capital development, security and governance institutions. As this is my last Budget address, let me once again highlight a few of these achievements to indicate how far we have already come.

(i)We have continued to build and complete hundreds of kilometers of Roads infrastructure and dozens of Electricity projects across the State.

(ii)We have revamped educational facilities at Primary, Secondary and Tertiary levels. We have executed over One Thousand Primary School Projects and procured and distributed thousands of Customized Desks and Seats for pupils. We have been recruiting Teachers to ensure that our Schools have the full complement of Staff.

(iii)We have secured and preserved Accreditation for our key Health Sector Institutions which have been producing hundreds of fully qualified and certified healthcare professionals.

(iv)We have established 42 fully equipped Health Centres across the State and a Primary Health Care Agency to bring Primary Health Care Management under one roof.

(v)We have built a state-of-the-art Infectious Disease Centre in Makurdi.

(vi)We have procured and installed Ultra-Modern MRI and Dialysis Machines for the Benue State University Teaching Hospital.

(vii)We are the only State in Nigeria to build a UNICEF-approved Cold Room for the cold chain in the Health Care Sector.

(viii)We are number one in Nigeria for HIV viral load suppression.

(ix)We are number one in the North Central Geo-political Zone for routine immunization.

(x)We have aggressively promoted agricultural mechanization through the acquisition and distribution of Tractors and are following up with investments to develop the value chain.

(xi)We have built Agro-Processing Centres in six LGAs and have consistently procured and distributed subsidized agricultural inputs to boost production and are now collaborating with the Africa Development Bank towards establishing three Agro-Processing Centres across the State with a hub in Makurdi.

(xii)We have transformed Technical Education by increasing the number of Polytechnics and we have also created a Ministry to drive progress in the areas of Science, Energy and Technology.

(xiii)We have completed over one thousand motorized and hand pump Water Schemes across the State.

(xiv)We have been revamping moribund urban Water projects and building new ones, along with projects in Watershed and Environmental Management and Sanitation.

(xv)We have also recorded considerable progress in restoring and revamping public buildings across the State.

(xvi)Together with the State Assembly, we have enacted and implemented new Laws and programmes to improve security and public safety, including by reducing incidents of herdsmen attacks and curtailing violent crimes, and have continued to explore options for protecting our people, as shown by our recent work to create Community Volunteer Guards, in cooperation with the Security Agencies that have been helping us to maintain the relative peace and security that we have experienced. (You will notice that our ground-breaking Open Grazing Prohibition and Establishment of Ranches Law of 2017 has inspired similar legislation across the country, with no less than 25 States having adopted such a Law.)

(xvii) We have created new institutions to strengthen public sector governance and the management of public finances by institutionalizing greater fiscal responsibility, open and competitive public procurement, better management of our debt and improved revenue administration.

(xviii) The online Television Station we started has now gone digital and is now a Satellite Cable Channel.

(xix) We have created the institutional framework for the effective and sustainable management of our Pensions. Infact, we are very close to reaching the threshold for applying to a National Pension Fund bond that will enable us to clear our backlog of Pensions, Gratuities and Death Benefits.

(xx) We have invested in the Benue Geospatial Information Service (BENGIS) to enhance the ease of property registration while also boosting our revenues from land fees.

(xxi) We have passed legislation to establish a Bureau of Statistics that will improve data availability for development planning, investment and research.

(xxii) We have expanded our social protection and economic empowerment programmes to cover thousands of poor households, smallholder farmers and MSMEs, with special focus on women.

(xxiii) We have been attracting foreign direct investment in our agro-industrial development drive at a time when most foreign investors are avoiding Nigeria.

15. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, this record of progress gives us the assurance that despite the challenges we have made notable progress in our vision to set the foundation for Benue State as an economically self-reliant and prosperous federating unit of Nigeria that is anchored on the fear of God.

16. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the 2022 Budget was christened ‘Budget of Economic Growth and Human Capital Development’. Our major focus for the fiscal year was to continue to revamp our educational and health infrastructure for human capital development, build arterial and township road projects across the three Senatorial Zones and complete the critically important Benue Geospatial Information Service (BENGIS) Project, improve rural infrastructure and provide for COVID relief and recovery, among other projects intended develop human capital and promote economic development.

17. The Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriation initially anticipated aggregate revenue and expenditure of over N155 Billion. A Supplementary Appropriation Act was subsequently approved and signed into Law on 5th May, 2022 with an aggregate sum of One Hundred and Seventy-Five Billion, Nine Hundred and Three Million, Four Hundred and Forty-One Thousand, Three Hundred and Eighty-Four Naira (N175,903,441,384.00) only. The Act provided for recurrent expenditure of One Hundred and One Billion, Seventy-Four Million, Six Hundred and Fifty-Eight Thousand, Four Hundred and Sixty-One Naira (N101,074,658,461.00) only or 57% and Capital Expenditure of Seventy-Four Billion, Eight Hundred and Twenty-Eight Million, Seven Hundred and Eighty-Two Thousand, Nine Hundred and Twenty-Three Naira (N74,828,782,923.00) only or 43%.

Table 1: Summary of 2022 Budget Estimates
2022 Budget
Expenditure Item 2022
Revised Estimates %
A. Recurrent Expenditure N101,074,658,461.00 57%
1. Personnel cost N49,226,050,625.00 28%
2. Overhead cost N51,848,607,836.00 29%

B. Capital Expenditure

TOTAL N175,903,441,384.00

18. By the end of the Second Quarter of 2022, the State realised the total sum of Sixty-Six Billion, Four Hundred and Ninety-Eight Million, Three Hundred and Fifty-Three Thousand, Three Hundred and Seventy-Six Naira and Thirty-Five Kobo (N66,498,353,376.35) or 37.8% of the aggregate figure. This was made up of Statutory Revenue (FAAC) of Thirty-Five Billion, One Hundred and Twenty-Six Million, One Hundred and Ninety-Nine Thousand, Two Hundred and Sixty-Six Naira and Twenty-Nine Kobo (N35,126,199,266.29) and independent revenue of Six Billion, Seven Hundred and Three Million, Six Hundred and Thirty-Eight Thousand, One Hundred and Thirty-One Naira and Thirty Kobo (N6,703,638,131.30), while Twenty-Four Billion, Six Hundred and Sixty-Eight Million, Five Hundred and Fifteen Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventy-Eight Naira, Eighty-Four Kobo (N24,668,515,978.84) was from Aid, Grants and Loans received within the period.
19. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, it is obvious that our Internally Generated Revenue is still not at the level we expect it to be. This is largely due to the COVID-19 disruptions and our prolonged security challenges that have severely hampered our agriculture and related economic activities. But we are confident that the enabling policy actions that we have been implementing will help to expand economic activities in the State and thereby provide a larger base for our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
20. As at the second quarter of 2022, the aggregate expenditure for fiscal year 2022 was Fifty-Five Billion, Two Hundred and Sixty-Four Million, Five Hundred and Ninety-Two Thousand, One and Forty-Four Naira, Thirty-Four Kobo (N55,264,592,144.34) only or 31.4% of the Budget figure. This was made up of Nineteen Billion, Eight Hundred and Ninety-Three Million, Three Hundred and Thirty-Eight Thousand, Four Hundred and One Naira, Eighty-One Kobo (N19,893,338,401.81) as Personnel Cost and Twenty-Nine Billion, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Million, Seven Hundred and Thirty-Five Thousand, Seven Hundred and Seventy-Three Naira, Seventy-Four Kobo (N29,221,735,773.74) as other Recurrent Expenditure, including Overhead Cost and debt service, while Six Billion, One Hundred and Forty-Nine Million, Five Hundred and Seventeen Thousand, Nine Hundred and Sixty-Eight Naira, Seventy-Nine Kobo (N6,149,517,968.79) was spent on capital development within the period. Details of the 2022 Budget’s Revenue and Expenditure performance to date are available online on the websites of the Ministry of Finance and the State Planning Commission.
21. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the relatively slow performance of the 2022 Capital Development Budget to date has been mainly due to delays in accessing the deficit financing facilities for our capital items, since our Revenue from Statutory sources and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is barely adequate to cover our Recurrent Expenditure. We have continued to explore alternative options and are reasonably hopeful of improving our Capital Expenditure in short order.
22. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, our focus in preparing the 2023 Budget Estimates is to consolidate on priority Programmes and Projects and prepare the ground for the transition to the next Administration that will take Office in May, 2023. These are programmes and projects that were carefully selected to move the State forward on its path to becoming an economically self-reliant federating unit of Nigeria in line with the goals set out in the Benue State Development Plan 2016-2025.

23. We will seek to complete ongoing infrastructure projects, promote community mobilisation for development and security, and further invest in education, skills development and healthcare to ensure that we have the 21st century human capital that is suitable for the opportunities in this rapidly changing digital world. Of course, we will continue to ensure that our Workers are paid on time while also intensifying our efforts to resolve the long-standing challenge of Pension Arrears. We will also remain true to the core public financial management principles of a timely, realistic, responsive and transparent budget preparation and implementation process. We will sustain the implementation of financial management reforms, including the adoption of technology to improve revenue and expenditure tracking, to ensure the prudent management of resources, value for money, accountability and transparency in all Government expenditures.

24. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the national macro-economic outlook remains considerably unpredictable. The gains that we have seen in oil price earnings have been negated by the rapidly declining value of the Naira, galloping inflation, uncertainty over Value-Added Tax (VAT), secessionist agitations and protests and nationwide insecurity. From the viewpoint of our State’s 2023 Budget, we have to anticipate that this uncertainty might negatively impact our projected revenues and expenditure. We are therefore proceeding on the basis that the following assumptions will hold through:

(i) the on-going process of Revenue Sharing Formulae review is concluded in favour of States and Local Governments;

(ii) sustained improvement in earnings from Value Added Tax (VAT), Stamp Duties and Electronic Money Transfer Charges;

(iii) the Federal Government comes up with clear guidelines for the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA);

(iv) reform and strengthening of Internally Generated Revenue collection in the State in collaboration with the Local Government Councils;

(v) efforts to block all leakages in Internal Revenue Generation by MDAs and remitting of same into Government Treasury Single Account are sustained;

(vi) stability in the political, social and economic environment;

(vii) the exchange rate of the Naira at N435.57 to the Dollar and the rate of inflation at 17.16% as proposed by the Federal Government remain stable;

(viii) the oil price of $70.00 per barrel and oil production of 1.88Million barrels of crude oil per day as proposed by the Federal Government are attained and sustained;

(ix) successful turnaround of poorly performing State-owned Enterprises in partnership with investors;

(x) The terrorist herdsmen’s siege on the State is ended and communal clashes are reduced and displaced farmers returned to their homes and farms;

(xi) Establishment of the Benue State Council on Finance and Economic Development;

(xii) Smooth and peaceful political transition.


25. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, taking into consideration the above principles and assumptions and noting our 2022 Revenue Performance as at half-year, we are proposing the sum of One Hundred and Seventy-Nine Billion, Seven Hundred and Fifty Million, Ninety Thousand, One Hundred and Twenty-Three Naira, Forty Kobo (N179,750,090,123.40) only for your consideration and approval as Estimated Aggregate Revenue from all sources in Fiscal Year 2023. This amount is made up of Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) Statutory Revenue of Seventy-One Billion, Three Hundred and Eighty-Five Million, Seven Hundred and Seventy-Three Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty Naira (N71,385,773,440.00) or 39.7% of Aggregate Revenue Estimates and the sum of Thirty Billion, Five Hundred and Seventy-Two Thousand, Eight Hundred and Five Naira, Fifty-Six Kobo (N30,000,572,805.56) or 16.7% of the Aggregate Revenue from independent sources. There is a provision of Seventy-Eight Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty-Three Million, Seven Hundred and Forty-Three Thousand, Eight Hundred and Seventy-Seven Naira, Eighty-Four Kobo (N78,363,743,877.84) or 43.6% of the aggregate Revenue from other sources including Aid, Grants and Loans.

26. The Table below summarizes our Expenditure Projections, the details of which are provided in the Draft Budget Document. The details of anticipated inflows from the various sources of revenue for the Proposed 2023 Budget Estimates are also provided in the main document. The Honourable Commissioner for Finance and the Director-General of the State Planning Commission are also available to provide any explanatory details as appropriate.

Table 2: Summary of Proposed 2023 Budget
2023 Budget
Expenditure Item 2023
Revised Estimates %
A. Recurrent Expenditure N106,191,893,868.58 59.1%
1. Personnel cost N48,514,120,411.29 27%
2. Overhead cost N57,677,773,457.29 32.1%

B. Capital Expenditure


TOTAL N179,750,090,123.40

27. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the proposed Aggregate Expenditure for Fiscal Year 2023 is projected at One Hundred and Seventy-Nine Billion, Seven Hundred and Fifty Million, Ninety Thousand, One Hundred and Twenty-Three Naira, Forty Kobo (N179,750,090,123.40). We have proposed that this amount be appropriated into Personnel, Overhead and Capital Expenditure as set out in the Table above.

28. One Hundred and Six Billion, One Hundred and Ninety-One Million, Eight Hundred and Ninety-Three Thousand, Eight Hundred and Sixty-Eight Naira Fifty-Eight Kobo (N106,191,893,868.58) only or 59.1% is proposed as total recurrent expenditure. The Recurrent Expenditure is made up of the sum of Forty-Eight Billion, Five Hundred and Fourteen Million, One Hundred and Twenty Thousand, Four Hundred and Eleven Naira, Twenty-Nine Kobo (N48,514,120,411.29) only or 27% as Personnel Cost and the sum of Fifty-Seven Billion, Six Hundred and Seventy-Seven Million, Seven Hundred and Seventy-Three Thousand, Four Hundred and Fifty-Seven Naira, Twenty-Nine Kobo (N57,677,773,457.29) only or 32.1% as Overhead Cost.

29. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the Recurrent Expenditure Estimates focus on our obligation to faithfully pay the Salaries of our workers and meet our obligations under our new Pension Laws and to our retired workers. We have also provided essential Overheads expenditure, with emphasis on items of that relevance to our quest to promote economic advancement, including recovery grants to poor households and to Small and Medium Enterprises to cushion the impact of COVID-19 under the auspices of the World Bank-assisted Nigeria CARES Programme.

30. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the sum of Seventy-Three Billion, Five Hundred and Fifty-Eight Million, One Hundred and Ninety-Six Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty-Four Naira, Eighty-Two Kobo (N73,558,196,254.82) only or 40.9% of the Aggregate Expenditure is provided for Capital Expenditure.

31. This provision reflects our continuing commitment to job-creating and wealth generating Agricultural Value Chain Development, with adequate provisions for key inputs such as land development, mechanisation, provision of inputs to farmers, including fertiliser, seeds and seedlings, irrigation and chemicals, services and completion of education, health and transport infrastructure projects, including arterial, access and township roads. We have also made ample provision for water and rural electrification projects and the completion of the ground-breaking Benue Geospatial Information Service (BENGIS) Project.

32. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, it is the objective and policy of the Benue State Government that every young person, male and female, should be in School, work or training. This is essential to ensure that our youths secure their prospects for the future. Our Recurrent and Capital Expenditure provide for Youth Empowerment Programmes and Projects that will enable our young people to meet the challenges and opportunities of the present and be well equipped for the changing world of the future. We have also commenced the implementation of the resolutions of the Youth Summit that we recently convened here in Makurdi. We are similarly making provision to partner with the World Bank for the implementation of the Nigeria for Women Project with a focus on empowering women enterprises and entrepreneurs.

33. The aggregate revenue and expenditure estimates for fiscal year 2023 budget are also distributed into the four sectors of the State economy as follows:-

Table 3: Sectoral Breakdown of Revenue Projections
1. Economic 144,013,185,468.23 80.1
2. Social 35,379,523,597.17 19.7
3. Administrative 207,215,059.00 0.12
4. Law and Justice 150,165,999.00 0.08
Total 179,750,090,123.40 100

Table 4: Sectoral Breakdown of Expenditure Estimates
1. Economic 94,312,934,579.06 52.55

2. Social 44,792,178,678.56 24.96

3. Administrative 33,780,953,060.13 18.82

4. Law and Justice 6,592,553,805.66 3.67

Total 179,750,090,123.40 100

34. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, we are mindful that the implementation of the Proposed 2023 Budget will have its challenges. Some of the anticipated challenges include:
(i) rising trend of inflation;
(ii) the volatility of the national economy and Federation Account receipts as a source of funds for the budget, more so given the uncertainty over VAT;
(iii) the narrowing window of alternative sources to finance rising Recurrent and Capital Expenditure;
(iv) the management of outstanding debts, including Arrears of Salaries and Pensions and contract payments;
(v) controlling unexpected herdsmen and communal crises that disrupt production activities;
(vi) resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic and or threat of other communicable diseases;
(vii) disruptions to economic activities created by the 2023 elections
(viii) the impact of persisting national insecurity crisis on economic activities;
(ix) the impact of the political transition and turnover of key officials in the aftermath of the 2023 elections.

35. In order to mitigate these challenges, efforts will be intensified to reform and reposition the internally generated revenue (IGR) machinery to achieve maximum result. The reform will put in place framework for tracking and remittance of all collected revenues in line with agreed milestones and sanctions will be applied where appropriate. Similarly, our financial management reform will continue to ensure strict compliance with the extant provisions of the Benue State Financial Instructions and the Public Financial Management Act as well as other Fiscal Laws enacted by the State House of Assembly.

36. While we cannot control all of these challenges and risks, we are taking deliberate steps to mitigate their impact on the delivery of the 2023 Budget. On the economic and fiscal front, we are diligently working to expand the economy to create more opportunities for our people and broaden our revenue base. The 2023 budget includes provisions to further strengthen our economic resilience through economic empowerment and enabling environment interventions.

37. We will also intensify the reform of revenue administration by ensuring that all revenues are collected as due and remitted to the Treasury. We expect our Benue State Geographic Information Service (BENGIS) investment to fully come on stream and begin to achieve the development and revenue impact it is designed to achieve. In addition, we will continue to strengthen our development partnerships at home and abroad and will ensure prompt payment of Counterpart contributions. We will also work with key stakeholders at the national and sub-national levels to find common ground and collectively address the challenges of instability and volatility in the national polity and economy. We will also continue to demand that all appointed officials interested in contesting for political offices resign their appointments to make room for those who will concentrate on helping us to finish our term on a high note.

38. We will also be taking full advantage of opportunities for States in all Federal initiatives while also expecting that our diligent implementation of the World Bank-assisted programmes-for-results such the States Fiscal Transparency and Sustainability (SFTAS) and the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (N-CARES) will translate to impact on the ground and a boost to state revenues.

39. We will also continue to improve the quality and impact of our expenditure and performance data. To this end we are establishing a Budget Intelligence Unit to gather intelligence on prices. We will also be strengthening the existing Efficiency Unit in the Ministry of Finance to monitor the quality of expenditure. We have embarked on Payroll Reform, following the successful deployment of technology using the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to identify payroll anomalies. We are also making good progress towards the comprehensive implementation of the Treasury Single Account. The completion of the Benue State Geographic Information Service (BENGIS) Project and the establishment of the State Statistics Bureau recently approved by the State Executive Council will enhance the availability of planning and monitoring data while also improving our revenue administration. The implementation of the various new Laws will certainly strengthen Fiscal Responsibility, Public Procurement and Debt Management, while the introduction of the Community Volunteer Guards is expected to further boost public safety and security across the State.

40. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, we will once again explore every opportunity to ensure that this budget works for our people despite the challenges and risks. We continue to analyse the sustainability of our debts and to seek to restructure them so as to reduce the monthly repayment burden on our revenues. Furthermore, our new Procurement Commission is producing a framework that will provide links to the Federal Government database for procurement and contract pricing in support of our law to promote open and competitive procurement. In the same vein, we will commence strict compliance with the extant provisions of the Debt Management Law and the Fiscal Responsibility Act while also further tightening our belt on expenditure across all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government.

41. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, as a State that is keen to promote private sector-based agro-industrial development we are actively collaborating with Investors, Development Partners and businesses in the private sector, building on recent and emerging collaborations on various projects and programmes. We are providing a wide range of incentives to ensure that they have a supportive business climate, including in the areas of property registration, tax rebates and security. The response from the investors has been very encouraging, as evidenced by the recent arrival of major agro-industrial investors. Among these are the Chinese-owned starch Producers starting out in Zaki Biam in Ukum LGA and two other Chinese-owned Ethanol producing companies separately based in Katsina-Ala and Makurdi. They are attracted by several enabling factors, including availability of fertile land, a young and educated work force, domestic and external markets, low operating costs, good transport links and the friendly policy and regulatory context provided by our Administration.

42. Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, let me reiterate the point about this being my last Budget Address to this Assembly. I know that some may presume that our remaining months in office will be all about elections and campaigns as we begin to look forward to the 2023 transition. But I would like to reiterate the point I have been making since the start of our second term, which is that better is the end of a thing than the beginning, as the Scriptures say. We are determined to finish on a high note for the good of our State and to the glory of God Almighty who has entrusted us to serve our people at this epochal time in our history. I trust that you in this hallowed Chamber and all Benue people at home and abroad will join hands with us to make 2023 a year to remember.

43. As already noted, our Administration has been tested by huge and unprecedented challenges, including two national economic recessions, a terrorist herdsmen siege and a pandemic that is the first in a lifetime and an unsupportive Federal Administration. Against this backdrop it is remarkable that we have already come this far in delivering the dividends of democracy to our people. But we are not tempted to rest on our laurels in these final months. Instead, we will continue to run with undiminished zest towards the finish line. It is in that spirit that I will be sending to this esteemed House a number of critical bills to further strengthen the delivery of good governance in our State.

44. Finally, Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, let me once again express my appreciation and that of my Administration for the spirit of co-operation and constructive engagement that has existed between the three arms of Government in the State and between the State Government and the Local Governments. The State Assembly has been a constructive partner in our common quest to serve and protect our people. We trust that you will continue in the same spirit by considering and passing the 2023 Budget which I now lay before you.

45. Long live Benue State. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In God we trust.

46. Thank you and God bless.

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