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Enugu Budget: Ex-VON boss cautions Mbah over extreme taxation

By Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
11 December 2023   |   2:27 am
Immediate past Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, yesterday, cautioned Enugu State Governor, Peter Mba, to beware of what he termed, “dangers of squeezing water out of stone."

Osita Okechukwu

Immediate past Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, yesterday, cautioned Enugu State Governor, Peter Mba, to beware of what he termed, “dangers of squeezing water out of stone.”

Reacting to the over N500 billion 2024 budget of the state government, Okechukwu reminded the governor of the economic hardship and suffering being encountered by the people of the state, stressing that it would be inhuman to subject them to extreme taxation.

The budget was christened, ‘Budget of Disruptive Economic Growth.’

He reminded the governor that Enugu people, like most poor Nigerians, have, for long, been in dire economic straits, where cost of food items, transportation, medication and sundry items have hit the roof.

He expressed admiration to the zeal, passion and ambition of Mbah’s N500 billion 2024 fiscal year, but cautioned him to beware of the dangers of squeezing half a trillion naira out of stone.

He said: “I shivered when I heard the governor mention maximisation of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and imagined if it is not from the same impoverished folks of which over 40 per cent fall under multidimensional poverty cadre.”

When reminded that IGR drive is universal in all the states of the federation and not restricted to Enugu State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain agreed, but singled out the multidimensional poverty status of majority of the indigenes of Enugu and the contradiction of over taxation.

“I don’t know the current Nigeria Bureau of Statistics’ poverty ranking of my state, but the little I know is that there is abject poverty, gross unemployment and palpable insecurity, which has driven a lot of farmers out of their farms,” he said.

Okechukwu advised the governor to rely on the Federation Account Allocation Committee’s (FAAC) monthly revenue accruals as his seed money and ensure it is transparently utilised.

“The problem is that most governors utilise FAAC monthly allocation as pocket money and squander it for personal expenses instead of tangible investment.

“Secondly, he should establish cordial relationships with the Federal Government to benefit from projects like the Enugu Urban Water scheme initiated by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) programmes, among others.”

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