By Babatunde Ayedoju
Any moment from now, pensioners and vulnerable people in Ondo State would start receiving their N10,000 monthly palliatives.
The State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Wale Akinterinwa gave the hint while speaking yesterday during a media parley organised in Akure by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ondo State Council.
He disclosed that the State Government, through personal efforts, has purchased 3,000 bags of rice in addition to the 3,000 bags donated to the state by the Federal Government to cushion the effects of the current economic challenges on the masses.
The Commissioner who said that palliative involves a process that was meticulously carried out, added that the state government was able to get only 3,000 bags of rice, instead of the 81,000 bags that were expected from the Federal Government.
On the purchase of vehicles for the new House of Assembly members by the state government, Akinterinwa said that the vehicles had been purchased before the inauguration of the present members of the House.
He said, “The cars were bought before May 29 as part of the entitlement of the legislators. That’s another arm of government. Are we going to say that the governor should have an official car, while the speaker and the CJ will not have? That is their own version of transport allowance.”
While assuring that palliative would go round, he said that the government had cancelled registration and consultation fees in government hospitals across the state, even as other measures are in the offing.
He recommended that to curb the continuous fall of naira, the manufacturing sector must thrive. He said that Nigeria’s extreme dependence on importation puts a heavy burden on the naira.
“It would take some time but we will get there,” he assured.
Speaking on the Ondo deep seaport, he described it as the biggest legacy that the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu administration would leave behind. Describing the governor’s commitment to the project as commendable, Akinterinwa said that the project would be a game changer in the economy of Ondo State, but it is going to be a continuous project that a single administration cannot complete.
He said: “Globally, wherever you see a seaport, the economy will grow exponentially. The growth of the seaport itself is a continuum, not something that a single administration can finish. One thing that we can be thankful for is that it has become a reality.”
The Commissioner who is also the Chairman of Forum of Commissioners for Finance in Nigeria assured that based on the location of Ondo State, importers would prefer the Ondo seaport to the Lagos seaport and every sector of the state’s economy would benefit.
He, however, warned that the presence of the port may come with some challenges which everybody must be ready to combat and overcome.
On the newly passed Electricity Act, Akinterinwa disclosed that even before the Act was passed, the State Government was already looking at ways of addressing challenges in the electricity sector. He assured that the state government would take maximum advantage of the Act and also explore alternative sources of power.
Akinterinwa commended journalists in the State for their balanced reporting of activities of the present administration, since its inception.
Going down the memory lane, he noted that before the inception of the present administration, the state’s monthly internally generated revenue (IGR) was N500 million, but under the Akeredolu led administration it rose to N3 billion a month.
He attributed this feat to efforts made by the government to strengthen the Ondo State Internal Revenue Service (ODIRS) and the redesigned tax payment system.
“After Lagos, no state has had the same quantum of growth within this particular space of time,” he said, adding that it has helped in terms of welfare of citizens and infrastructural development.
Akinterinwa who said that this administration inherited salary arrears of seven months disclosed that all the arrears have been cleared except one month, assuring that at the expiration of this administration, it would have paid salaries of eight years and seven months.
The Commissioner said the dualization of Oda road project in Akure, the state capital, that has been under construction for over two years will be delivered on completion soon.
He blamed the delay on the variations in the cost of things that have changed in the country which the contractor has called for review.
He said further that, the agreement reached with the contractor handling the road has to be reviewed base on inflation that has come on the materials using like the cements, iron rods and host of other materials including the diesel that the trucks are using on site.