Prudence in Financial Management favours Cross River State

It is heart-warming that prudent management of scarce resources by the Cross River State Government, under the managerial skills, sterling leadership qualities and qualitative direction of the Governor, Sen. Prof Ben Ayade, has been recognized and applauded by Budglt, a civic tech organization which works to make public data and budgets more comprehensible for the benefit of the public.

In its recent State of States report, which is regarded as the most comprehensive annual report of the fiscal health of States in Nigeria, Cross River took a giant leap forward to occupy the 8’h position in a 36 states survey. This move, from its 2020 ranking as the 14th most fiscally healthy state in the federation, is a healthy development worth acknowledging.

The State of States report is a self-assessment tool which gives an indication of the fiscal strategies of States in Nigeria and what they need to do to deploy necessary and available resources for investment, to the benefit of their people.

According to the report which was presented in the presence of representatives of state governments, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), amongst other stakeholders, Cross River State paints a pleasantly interesting picture of the fiscal health of the Governor Ayade-led administration.

Long before now, the Governor had harped on the necessity of decoupling the state from the handouts that comefrom the Federation Account. He had set machineries in motion to boost internally generated revenue and enhance investments in high- yielding, novel industries and ventures that would shore up the revenue base of the State.

The state also recorded a 30% reduction in its year-on-year operating expenses, a large part of which is attributable to a reduction in overheads by over 70%. This in turn led to a corresponding growth in capital expenditure by over 71%, with an N 11,494 expenditure per capita, higher than the country’s average of N8,129. These laudable strides could only be achieved through prudent and judicious deployment of resources which are, in any case, scarce in the state.

Governor Ayade’s avowed determination to prioritize investments in capital expenditure, while at the same time significantly reducing operating expenditure spending, coupled with placing premium attention to investments in capital projects obviously did not go unnoticed.  Budgit’s ranking attests to this.

Long before now, the Governor had harped on the necessity of decoupling the state from the handouts that come from the Federation Account. He had set machineries in motion to boost internally generated revenue and enhance investments in high­ yielding, novel industries and ventures that would shore up the revenue base of the state. His take-off point has always been intellectual money, which is working well for the State on all fronts.

And even though Cross River State ranked l 7’h in terms of residual income left over for investments in capital projects after servicing deductions on inherited loans and operating expenses, it’s ranking as the 4th highest state on the ladder of capital investments is an indication of sound fiscal policies and creative funding.

For an administration that is placed 36th out of the 36 states of the federation in terms of ability to borrow, the Ayade-led government has however worked assiduously to reduce domestic and foreign debts, expending over N l20billion on debt servicing on inherited loans. This is quite commendable!

In the face of all these achievements, government is still not resting on its oars. Appreciable efforts are being made, via the ingenuity of the Digital Governor, to take the state out of its fiscal woods. Some of the measures being employed to achieve this include substantial investments in infrastructural projects, with a focus on agro-processing; deploying technology to checkmate the vexed issue of ghost workers which unnecessarily swell the payroll; and a conscious, continued and concise effort at beefing up the internally generated revenue of the state.

With time, and certainly in the lifetime of his administration, Cross Riverians will not only witness, but get to reach the light at the end of our collective journey as a people.