Analysis: Misplaced priorities in Ekiti State

The Ekiti State government has announced the bidding process for the construction of a governor’s office and a High Court complex. The total cost of both will be N687,028,630.33 for the governor’s office, while the High Court Complex is expected to cost N1.3 billion.

Ekiti’s Commissioner for Works and Transportation, Funmi Ogun, said the open tender is a demonstration of the state government’s commitment to prudent management of the state’s lean resources.

The YMonitor begs to differ. The desire to build a new governor’s office and a new High Court complex is not a commitment to prudent management. It is instead a demonstration of the wasteful spending that has made many states in Nigeria essentially bankrupt, forcing them to go cap in hand to the Federal Government for bailouts.

Just a few months ago, Ayo Fayose could not pay salaries to employees of the Ekiti State civil service. When they went on strike, he also went on strike in theatrical fashion. That situation is still ongoing. As at June, Ekiti was owing 5 months of salaries and several months in pensions.

What every single state in Nigeria should be doing with very scarce resources, is making infrastructure investments that are directly tied to increasing economic activity and internally generated revenue, which will reduce dependence on federal allocations. A new governor’s office and High Court complex do not pass this test.

The projects do not pass the urgency test either. The executive and judiciary in Ekiti have been in operation in the state without fancy new buildings. Why is building one now so important?

In its ‘State of the States’ report for 2015, BudgIT Nigeria said of Ekiti State:

Going forward, Ekiti will need to exhibit careful consideration on its choice of capital projects to ensure maximum revenue accrues to its coffers. For instance, the State’s recent drive to build an airport has been queried by analysts, particularly with respect to the sustainability of the project. This is because it is common knowledge that around 85% of air traffic is skewed to a few airports in Nigeria, including those in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

That report also recommended that the state increase the appeal of its tourist sites, like the Ikogosi Warm Springs, and look at ways to move workers in the informal sector into the tax net to increase internally generated revenue.

Those should be the priorities of Governor Fayose, rather than wasteful spending which benefits only a few in power.

 

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