Professor of Political Science, with University of Northern Iowa, US, Pita Agbese, has criticized the Benue State Governor, Hyacinth Alia over his solo spendings of state resources and distributions of the Federal Government five billion naira palliatives for states.
He said for the governor be spending state resources without consulting the Benue State house of Assembly, it could land him into court by interested citizens of the state.
Agbese in his writeup titled ‘Clapping for Governor Alia with Two Fingers’, said “Alia’s appropriated power to determine the spending priorities is unconstitutional.”
He said: “Despite my visceral rejection of the demonic leadership by Ortom Adorogo, I once found myself clapping for him with one finger. The announcement yesterday that Gov Alia has “rolled out” palliative measures to help ameliorate the economic tsunami created by the removal of petroleum subsidy, did not lead me to jump for joy. I could not bring myself to use all my ten fingers to clap for the governor. Since I did not want to put Alia in the same decrepit cesspool where Ortom used to reside, I decided to double the number of fingers I had utilized in clapping for Ortom to clap for Alia. Alia gets a two-finger clap from me..
“Why was I not pleased enough with what Alia has “rolled out” to clap for him more robustly? As my in-laws, the Jamaicans, would say, come with I.
“First of all, under our constitutional form of democracy, Gov Alia shares fiduciary responsibilities with the Benue State House of Assembly. Alia can only propose spending priorities to the House. The House has exclusive powers to appropriate or to reject all public funding proposals. The Americans describe this as the “power of the purse. It belongs exclusively to the legislative chamber.
From the press release announcing the “roll[ing] out,” of the palliatives, there was no mention that the House has approved Alia’s proposed disbursement of the 5 billon Naira from the federal government. That is not right. Alia should not arrogate to himself the power to decide how the state’s whopping 5 billion Naira should be spent. We need a robust public debate and creative ideas on how to spend the 5 billion Naira.
“Without the input of the House on how to spend the money, Alia’s appropriated power to determine the spending priorities is unconstitutional. The proposals must be sent to the legislators in the form of an executive bill otherwise public-spirited persons can challenge Alia’s spending priorities in a court of law.
The legislature does not always behave responsibly with respect to its exclusive powers over public expenditures. Witness how the last House approved Ortom’s pension bill without even asking how much the pension law would cost the state. Nonetheless, it is right to shun aside the legislative assembly over the proposed spending priorities.
“I also have problems with some of the proposed spending priorities. Paying examination fees for graduating high school students in “government-approved schools” is inequitable. Some of these students come from very wealthy homes and the administration should not have to pay their examination registration fees. More irksome to me is the high priority attached to paying these fees.
These fees are not a fallout of the subsidy removal. The fees have not been increased as a result of eliminating the petroleum subsidy. How did the administration arrive at the decision that these fees are so onerous and burdensome to parents that the administration must take up the payment? How does the payment benefit those children and wards are not beneficiaries of this Alia-largesse?
“The money belongs to all of us. Instead of showering some segments of Benue’s population with this windfall, why did the Alia administration not consider dividing the 5 billion Naira among all of us who are citizens of Benue? Dividing the money by the population would be the fairest and most equitable way to disburse the money. Each of us ought to be entitled to a cash dividend from this money.
Alternatively, a substantial portion of the money should have been proposed to be committed to reviving the state’s moribund critical infrastructure. Benue needs good roads. Benue needs world-class hospitals and clinics. Benue needs modern schools and potable water. Buying 100 new buses for Benue Links will merely enrich a few people. Vehicular parts from these buses will be pilfered.
Many of them will be driven recklessly and soon run aground. Providing buses for shuttle services in Makurdi, Gboko, and Otukpo is unconscionably inequitable. The majority of the state’s population does not live in these three cities.