By Kasarachi Azuka, Asaba
·We’ve been vindicated, says Okowa as Delta bags World Bank’s awards on fiscal transparency
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has said that contrary to malicious criticisms by some politicians, his administration’s prudent fiscal and transparent governance profile has been vindicated and acknowledged by the World Bank.
The governor stated this while receiving four Awards – Excellent Performance on Fiscal Transparency and Accountability; Very Good Performances on Efficiency of Public Expenditure; Overall Performance in SFTAS; and Debt Sustainability – from the Bank at Government House, Asaba on Monday.
The State Government earned the awards under the World Bank’s States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS) due to some of its reforms, which reforms had impacted positively on its fiscal transparency and accountability in public resource management.
Okowa commended members of the SFTAS Implementation Committee in the state for their hardwork which led to the states’s excellent performance.
“I thank God and the team that has been working on the SFTAS programme in the last four years. I truly feel happy with the awards that we have received as a state.
“It just goes to confirm that we have tried our best in the course of governance in our state. We have also relied on the internal team in government in the course of these four years. It shows that we have built capacity in the public service of Delta State.
“There is no doubt that we need to continue to improve. But, the truth is that there is capacity built already in the public service and the more we are able to utilise the resource available for us, the better for us for growth and development in the state,” he said.
He expressed optimism that the incoming administration would leverage the achievements recorded in Fiscal Transparency and Accountability and continue to work for the overall good of the state.
“We have been told that there was 13 result areas and we have done well in all. But, we have gotten awards in four areas. I must congratulate the team that has been in charge.
“I pray that we continue to ensure, even after this administration, that the civil service cooperates with the incoming administration to ensure that most of the foundations that have been laid are built upon, in the best interest of the state,” the governor added.
He recalled that in the course of the recent general elections, all manner of information were put out “to the extent that even our civil servants began to doubt within their minds.
“I do know that Delta State has always been in the fore-front of good things and I know that we are role models in several aspects of governance in this nation.
“So, with these awards coming at this point in time in a very critical area, including, fiscal transparency and accountability; efficiency of public expenditure; overall performance in SFTAS; and very importantly, on debt sustainability, it’s quite encouraging.
“I think that this is obvious that the information put out in the social media because of politics, is enmical to the growth of the state. It is always good to speak the truth.
“When you try to misinform the public, it is a disservice to the state and our nation. So I am glad that a lot of corrections have been made.”
Okowa said that his administration had been very prudent in managing the state’s resources to the extent that Delta and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) alone recorded very infinitesimal increase in debts while many other states more than doubled their debt stocks.
“Even beyond awards received today, a federal publication on the issues concerning debts shows that we are the best performing of all states.
“When it comes to the issues of the number of debts states have, while many states have tripled, or say 200 per cent increase in debt, it happened that Delta and FCT alone in the entire nation, are at a very, very low per cent; I think it was within one per cent.
“Whereas, there was an information out there that Delta State was owing about N850 billion; which is a lie from the pit of hell.
“But, I thank God that Deltans got to know the truth, hence they voted for Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori and I thank God for what He has done. I also thank all who have contributed to our successes,” he stated.
Earlier, Fidelis Tilije, state’s comissioner for finance, had explained that SFTAS was a World Bank programme established in 2018 to encourage and motivate sub-national governments towards improvement of their Public Finance Management systems, processes and institutions aimed at strengthening fiscal transparency to build trust in government, facilitate accountability in public resource management and ensure sustainability in the participating states.
Tilije attributed the feat attained by the state to the political will and determination of Governor Okowa to reform and reposition the state’s public finance management structure in line with international best practices.
He said that the governor provided support and the freedom for the steering committee to implement policies and procedures that ensured that the state met all requirements attached in the 13 result areas.
He said that Delta was overall best in the South South and second best in Southern Nigeria which earned it cumulative 51 million dollars in grants.