By Fred Edoreh
With accruals from 13% oil derivation, Delta State receives one of the highest federal revenue allocation. It is also in the top five of states with the highest internally generated revenue.
It is reported that from 2013 and into the current administration, there has been a fair annual economic growth of about 3% especially with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s push to improve the agricultural, service and construction sectors, coupled with his efforts to drive entrepreneurship through the Job and Wealth Creation Office.
In the face of these, there is still widespread poverty within the state, with unemployment ratio among the highest in the country.
This is principally because, despite its comparative financial strength above many other states, the state economy still lacks the required depth and volume to cater for its about 5.6m population.
Whilst Governor Okowa has pulled over 10,000 youths up through STEP, YAGEP, DEEP and other initiatives, there are still millions of unemployed and even unemployable youths across all communities.
The state budget for the past four years have been around N380b until it recently crossed to about N450 in 2022. That is about the size of FC Barcelona’s 2022 budget, just one company in the city which is only about the 4th largest in Europe.
N450b is means a budget to population ratio of about N72,000 per citizen per annum or N6,000 per month which also reflects the per capita tax ratio.
With about N180b appropriated for recurrent expenditure, the state has only about N230b left for capital expenditure which is a far cry from what is needed annually to tackle the huge physical and social infrastructure deficits.
Notably too, federal allocation accounts for about 75% of the budget funding while IGR provides for less than 25%. The state has had to take loans as bridge and it is no wonder that such critical outstandings as pensions and gratuity payments have remained a problem.
In comparison, Lagos State 2022 budget is about N1.75 trillion, about four times the size of Delta State budget, and it is to be funded almost 60% by IGR projected at about N90b monthly and above N900b for the year.
The closest state in IGR to Lagos is Rivers State with a projection of about N82b for the year while Delta State is about N50b per annum.
Lagos IGR comes from tax on big industrial, manufacturing, trading and service companies, citizens income tax and profits from the states’ diverse investments.
These are lacking in Delta. In fact, in some quarters, and regrettably but arguably so, it is said that so much in the economy comes from the underworld, Yahoo Yahoo and all sorts.
Before now, we have witnessed youths travelling through Libya and the Mediterranean region to find better life in Europe with all the risks and deaths associated with the route. But, what can they do? They want better life and their country and state cannot provide for them.
This whole analysis shows that Delta State cannot grow above its current situation unless and until it resets its economy to embrace and deepen industrialisation.
This is the vision, message and main trust of Olorogun David Edevbie’s modernisation agenda for Delta State.
As a development economist, he fully understands the issues and has it all planned out to economically reposition the state.
It is well known that electricity supply, or lack of it, underpins the development or underdevelopment of any society and the situation in Nigeria is terribly low.
That is why Edevbie’s first point of call is to provide a 500MW generation plant to ensure adequate and steady supply of electricity to support incoming industries and sell the excess to electricity distribution companies to earn revenue for the state. The surpluses will also serve for future needs as more and more industries open shop in the state.
The availability of steady electricity will definitely incentivise and attract industrialists and investors, especially as the cost of dieselling has risen to about N700 per litre.
The establishment of industries will open up greater direct and indirect employment and wealth creation opportunities for our population.
Towards this, Edevbie’s plan is to create industrial hubs across the state starting with the already designated industrial parks in various senatorial districts and the reinforcement of the Delta Investment Development Agency (DIDA).
To catalyse the establishment of industries, the agency which will be strengthebed with its own funds to buy equity shares in emerging industries to support investors and then share profits from their operations to improve the revenue of the state.
That is the practice by which nations, states and municipalities in developed nations have continued to grow their economies and generate employment and enterprenueral opportunities for their people.
Given the vagaries in the global oil economy which constantly affects Nigeria, with the implication of dwindling federal allocations, the Edevbie plan is the only path to a Stronger Delta and no other aspirants understands the nuances and systemics better or are as equipped educationally, professionally, skill wise, experience wise and exposure wise as he is.