The 2018 budget presentation by Gov Rochas Okorocha could not go on as scheduled on Tuesday.
Main Reason: Lawmakers in the state assembly decided to boycott the speech because they are dissatisfied with the way the executive under Okorocha has worked with them over the years.
A summary of the lawmakers’ demands according to multiple sources include:
- That Okorocha must provide details of how bailout funds were spent
- That Okorocha must provide details of how Paris refunds were spent
- That Okorocha must provide details of constituency funds for the past three years.
“We are asking him now to give us accounts of last year and previous year’s budget performance. We are not resuming until we see the budget performance for the last three years. Also we are demanding details of what came to the state as bailout funds, Paris refund and let us know whether they were captured in the previous budget or not. If we don’t have these details, we are not resuming,” a lawmaker said anonymously.
Gov. Okorocha’s excuse: The governor claims that there were discrepancies in the speech he was expected to deliver. According to his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, the presentation was postponed indefinitely because of “disturbing discrepancies discovered in the budget speech.”
Quote: “With utmost regret, we wish to inform the public that the announced presentation of the 2018 budget to the state House of Assembly by the Governor, Rochas Okorocha, fixed for Tuesday (yesterday) could no longer hold, owing largely to disturbing discrepancies discovered in the budget speech. A new date for the budget presentation will as usual be made public,” he said.
Publicly seconding that explanation, the Chairman of the Imo Assembly Committee on Information, Kennedy Ibeh, said the postponement was due to “typographical error and pagination of the budget speech.”
The postponement of the speech comes as an embarrassment to the government as government appointees, journalists, and other dignitaries and Imo citizens were already seated at the assembly complex from as early as 8AM to 5PM before news came in that the presentation would no longer hold.