By Okunade Adekunle
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s request for the Lagos state Assembly to re-order the 2017 budget hit a brickwall when the second reading of the bill was taken at plenary during the week and was subsequently stepped down pending further clarification and information from the executive.
Immediately the Clerk of the House, Mr. Azeez Sanni read the re-ordering bill that seeks to re-order N42.028billion of the 2017 budget, the second time to set the stage for the debate, the chairman of the Appropriation committee, Hon. Rotimi Olowo rose up to say despite that the re-ordering is desirable because of ecology/environment and security issues plaguing the state yet the House needs more information and clarification from the MDAs to be able to do a good job of the re-ordering.
Olowo complained that from the January -June budget performance report from the executive and interaction with MDAs it was clear that monies meant for execution of projects was not released to some MDAs the same funds the executive is seeking to re-order.
Contributing to the debate, Hon. Bisi Yusuff representing Alimosho constituency 1 and member of the Appropriation committee wondered why the executive should be talking of budget re-ordering in October when it is supposed to be talking or presenting the 2018 budget before the House.
Yusuff stressed, “Budget re-ordering is a failure of the budget ministry as most MDAs have been unable to assess their funds. We need explanation why some MDAs are pampered and others are treated otherwise.”
The Chief Whip, Hon. Rotimi Abiru, condemned some aspects of re-ordering the budget of a ministry that has an ambitious housing project for the state and also that wants to release funds to the government for the bulk purchase of buses for public transportation, saying that government should provide an enabling environment for business instead of purchasing buses for public transportation directly.
While Hon. Abiodun Tobun also frowned at the re-ordering of funds meant for an important corporation like water corporation with the terrible potable drinking water situation in the state.
All the lawmakers who contributed to the debate agreed that the executive should give more clarification and information on the re-ordering bill before the House considers the request.
Agreeing with his colleagues on the need for further clarification and information from the executive, speaker Mudashiru Obasa said “we are doing this in good fate, we are asking questions in good fate for the sake of the people. I hereby step down the bill pending clarification from the executive”, Obasa said.
It will be recalled that Ambode wrote to the Assembly about three weeks ago requesting for re-ordering of the 2017 budget. Though the budget size remains N812.998b for the year but the re-ordering is expected to move unused funds from some MDAs that can’t utilise them before the end of the year to MDAs that needs such funds to take care of some pressing challenges confronting the state.
Lagos Speaker Tasks Elites On Participatory Governance
Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, has implored the elites in the state to be participating in the process of governance instead of criticising government activities.
Obasa made this statement following the low turnout of elites at the recent Stakeholders meeting held simultaneously across the 40 Constituencies in the state.
Commenting on the meeting before the collated reports from the constituencies were passed to the state government for inclusion in the 2018 budget during plenary in the week, Obasa said that the meeting was a necessity.
He added “I appreciate you all for the success of the stakeholders meeting. The essence of being here is to represent our people and give them what they really want. We want to thank the Clerk of the House, Mr. Sanni Azeez and the entire staff of the House as well as the journalists for the success of the programme and wide publicity.I would like to enjoin the elites to be part of meetings like this rather than staying back and criticising the government. This is an opportunity for them to express their views on areas, where they want the government to focus on,”
Earlier, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade had brought the issues of the stakeholders meeting to the notice of the House.
Agunbiade added that the programme was a tremendous success and that it was commended by a lot of people, adding that it has enhanced development in the state.
While contributing, Hon. Rotimi Olowo, who represents Somolu Constituency 1, argued that the edition recorded an unprecedented success, adding that Lagos came alive on the day.
Olowo, who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, added that the report should be collated soon and sent to the state government for inclusion in the 2018 budget.
Also, the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Wasiu Sanni Eshinlokun observed that the time of the meeting should be adjusted so that the state government could have an ample time to work on it before a budget year.
Hon. Moshood Oshun from Lagos Mainland Constituency 2 said that the meeting is an inclusion of people in governance.
He stated that the success of last year’s edition contributed to the success of the one of this year and that it should be replicated at the federal level.
Hon. Bisi Yusuf from Alimosho Constituency 1 commended the Speaker of the House for the initiative, while adding that the House should ensure that the executive arm of government includes the recommendations in the 2018 budget.
The Speaker, however, ordered the Clerk of the House, Mr. Sanni Azeez to pass the bounded copy of the report to the state government after a motion by Hon. Agunbiade and this was supported by the Deputy Chief Whip, Hon. Omotayo Oduntan.