Some stakeholders in Enugu expressed divergent views on Thursday over the 2024 Appropriation Bill presented to the state House of Assembly by Governor Peter Mbah.
In separate interviews in Enugu, the stakeholders barred their minds.
The governor had proposed a budget of N521,561,386,000.00, representing a 132 per cent increase from the 2023 revised budget of N224,697,889,063, the highest in the state’s history.
John Nwobodo, a politician and legal practitioner, stated that there were some contradictions and misalignments in the budget. He commended the governor for identifying the need to improve teaching and learning in the state by proposing to build 260 Smart Model Basic Schools.
Mr Nwobodo, however, described the proposed smart schools as a vogue and a white elephant.
“Yes, it is good to provide a serene learning environment equipped with modern facilities and equipment and integrate technology, AI, and robotics into the basic education curriculum,” Mr Nwobodo explained. “But of what relevance when there is no corresponding provision at the Upper Secondary education level, including the tertiary education level.”
He said presently, most public school buildings in the state were dilapidated and in a state of shambles with no school desks, chalkboards, etc.
“In my own opinion, the proposed projects are not likely to lead to the eradication of poverty and achieving zero per cent poverty headcount,” added Mr Nwobodo.
Steve Ofili, a banker and a current affairs analyst, said the budget proposal had all the traces of ambitious projects. He said the governor had shown that he was a man with vision, giving his projects an outline, but how he achieved his ambition through the budget remained to be seen.
“Though his vision plans are okay to me, I am not too optimistic about its actualisation,” said Mr Ofili.
However, a teacher, Ngozi Ugwueze, commended the governor for the budget, stressing that Mr Mbah’s government prioritises teachers’ welfare.
Also, Daniel Ukwu, founder of Daniel Ukwu Foundation for Leadership, lauded the governor for the budget. He said the budget, if fully implemented, would lay the foundation for full industrialisation of Enugu.
“Looking at the budget, it is very bulky, and the figures look unrealisable, but my area of concern is education, where he allocated 33 per cent,” said Ukwu. “This would take care of teachers, building model schools, training and retraining of teachers, which is a departure from what we were used to in the past.”
According to him, it is a progressive measure and a way of industrialising Enugu.
“It is a very commendable Budget. It is proactive if he implements all the projects therein, including road construction and rehabilitation, schools, water and so on,” added Mr Ukwu. “It is a foundation budget, but the amount, I don’t know how he’s going to realise it.”