By Reuben Nwankwo
A Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defined the group of words “with a difference” as something which is interesting or unusual especially in a good way.
This is a quality possessed or could be best describe the man Engr. C.C. Osuala Ph.D, the Imo State Commissioner for Budget, Economic Planning and Statistics and the coordinating Commissioner for Economy Imo State. A thorough breed administrator, politician and academia. Hence a golden fish they say has no hiding place.
As a result, on assumption of office as the Hon. Commissioner Budget & Economic Planning after their swearing in on March 23rd, 2020, this American trained Engineer and Economist who is in a haste to contribute his quota in what he knows how to do best for the development of the state, never wasted time. He hit the ground running by studying the 2020 Imo State Appropriation Budget prepared by the former administration of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. On discovering that the budget did not meet up the International standard used in measuring development that is acceptable by World Bank, he moved into action with the Budget Department & Management of the Ministry by doting all comas’ and fullstops and by the grace of God on 30th April 2020, Imo State for the first time in the history of the Imo State earned World Bank recognition as the budget was download into the Imo website (www.imostate.gov.ng). The citizens budget 2020 which is the simplified version of the budget that was prepared through participation of Ndi Ezes/Autonomous Communities otherwise referred to as priority participatory budget. The first assignment carried out by the Directors of Administration and General Services (DAGs) of various Local Governments in Imo State and autonomous communities for this administration as well as, the 1st quarter of 2020 implementation report and the stakeholders meeting report on 2020 budget were all down loaded. The citizens budget was also translated into Igbo language, a second state in Nigeria that did such after Kaduna State. A feat that came with a reward of $300,000 from the World Bank to Imo State. Interestingly Imo State is now rated 3rd positions after Kaduna and Lagos states from its previous 33rd position out of 36 states plus FCT before the coming on board of the Governor Hope Uzodimma’s Administration in implementing Open/Participatory Budgeting System.
This achievement in honesty earned Honourable Commissioner Osuala, the Ministry of Budget and State Government accolade from Imolites, the Traditional Rulers, the Clergy, Politicians, the Academia, and Autonomous Communities including Imolites in diaspora.
Osuala, as a team player and humanitarian never stopped in appreciating Governor Hope Uzodimma for the support he gave the Ministry which aided in the success recorded. He equally thanked the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Rev. Reginald Udeh, the State Director of Budget, Pastor Victor Okereke and entire staff of the Ministry for their commitment and steadfast on the course of working on the Participatory Budget and Citizen’s Budget 2020.
However, due to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that ravaged the world economy, it then becomes imperative that the Imo State 2020 budget has to be reviewed as directed by Governor Hope Uzodimma. The essence is to have a realistic budget that would drive the economy of the state. Commissioner Osuala and his staff never rested, but have to work several hours even on public holidays to ensure that a workable revised budget is achieved for Imo State. Majority of Chief Executives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in an interview with journalists commended commissioner Osuala, for his intellect and experience during the bilateral discussions between the Ministry of Budget, Economic Planning & Statistics and the MDAs.
Again by the special grace of God, the State 2020 revised budget which was reviewed 30% downward from N197b to N108b was on Wednesday 29th July 2020, assented by Governor Hope Uzodimma at the Exco Chambers, Government House Owerri after it successfully undergone through all the legislative processes the previous day, Tuesday 28th July, 2020, at Imo State House of Assembly.
At the signing ceremony in the presence of the Deputy Governor Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Dr. Chiji Collins, and Principal Officers of IMHA, the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Dr. C.C. Osuala and Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice Barr. C.O.C Akaolisa and some principal counsels of State Ministry of Justice, Governor Uzodinma said that the budget effectively captured all government political, economic and social development programs, policies and strategies aimed at putting the well being of the citizenry at the centre of governance.
He noted that from the provisions of the revised budget, the three ‘R’ Agenda of the present administration anchored on shared property is on course and expressed no doubt that the budget will greatly alleviate the hardship of our people and advised that the implementers of the budget should insist on prudent management of resources and diligent adherence to budgetary provisions, in order to achieve success.
The Governor equally pointed out that the revised budget 2020 is published in Igbo and English Languages for easy reference by the citizens, stressing that in line with best international practices, it has achieved the feat of producing the first ever Imo citizens budget. This is in addition to commissioning it online with report on first quarter budget performance in line with his promise to run a transparent government which has consequently qualified the state to receive $300,000 and $1,000,000 respectively from the World Bank under its SFTAS (States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability for Sustainability Programme).
The state Ministry of Budget, Economic & Planning and Statistics has had many Commissioners in the past but with the appointment of Dr. C.C. Osuala, as its current commissioner, the story of the Ministry changed for good. So, for one to say that Dr. Osuala is remarkably/significantly different person to have served the ministry as a commissioner is not an over statement.
Dr. Christopher Osuala, the doyen of Nwangele politics is indeed a different being both in exposure, training, approach to issues, humanitarian services and even in the things of God among others as many rightly observed possibly because of his background and upbringing. A personal contact with him for the first time would certainly convince one that he is truly a progressive, very accommodating, intelligent and willing to assist despite all odds having studied, lived and worked in USA for good number of years with experience both in public and private sectors.
Notably, Engr. C.C. Osuala holds Bachelor and Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering and Doctor of Philosophy (PHD) in Engineering Management.
He also holds M.Sc in Economics and Certificate Diploma Course in law.
While in the United States of America, Engr. C.C Osuala PHD had instinct with Boeing 747 Aircraft Company as Electro-Mechanical Engineer, American Air Space Control Agency and equally lectured in one of the famous institution in the country among others before returning to Nigeria. Between 1999 to 2003, Dr. C.C. Osuala represented Nkwerre/Isu/Nwangele/Njaba Federal Constituency at the National Assembly as a Federal Lawmaker where he distinguished himself as an intelligent legislator particularly on House Committee on Budget & National Development Planning which he served as its chairman.
He also served as a Director General to Distinguish Senator Hope Uzodimma at the 8th National Assembly. A successful businessmen and philanthropist of note.
Due to his performance and global recognition, Dr. C.C Osuala was enlisted in the world Academy of Science Encyclopedia in the year 1996 in the United States of America (WHO is WHO).
One may ask on why this kind of man has not taken Government Appointment with the Imo State Government since he left the National Assembly as a Lawmaker. The answer is not farfetched probably because God in his wisdom decided to bring him to Imo State at this time to assist in the development of the state for the benefit of the citizens.
Special thanks to Governor Hope Uzodimma for discovering and bringing this egalitarian servant to be part of Imo State, recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation team. Dr. C.C. Osuala is really an intellectual power house.
Peoples prayer is that God who made it possible would grant him (Dr. Osuala) good health, wisdom, and every enablement to continue to contribute his best and to serve his fatherland and humanity with equanimity.