LAGOS ASSEMBLY THIS WEEK (June 3-June 7)
BY OKUNADE ADEKUNLE
As part of its constitutional responsibilities to assess budget performance and implementation process, the Lagos State House of Assembly has initiated moves to evaluate the implementation of the 2017 budget in order to gauge the mid-term performance of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the state.
The House initiated this move during Monday’s plenary session as the Chairman, House Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, Hon. Rotimi Olowo, informed the legislators that reviewing the budget performance in the past six months would help in giving direction for the 2018 budget appropriation.
“The exercise will help scrutinise how the MDAs are doing in terms of the revenue generated as well as their level of compliance with their capital and recurrent expenditure”.
The Majority Leader, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, who supported the move, said when carried out the exercise would help reveal whether the current budget estimates are working according to the House’s outlook.
Agunbiade said the move would also help the lawmakers to serve members of the public better, as the outcome of the exercise, which would be eventually made public would help taxpayers know how their taxes had been put into use in the past six months.
While commenting, the lawmaker representing Oshodi Isolo 2, Hon. Jude Idimogu, described the development as apt as it would help in scrutinising the activities of all the ministries, including those he deemed not to have really measured up to what was expected of them.
Idimogu, who questioned the performance of the agencies in charge of road maintenance in the state, lamented on the state of some roads in the state since the commencement of the rainy season, saying they have become impassable.
Buttressing the position of his colleagues, Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, said reviewing of budgets should not be made an annual thing only, but rather, emphasis should also be placed on their periodic review so that any perceived loophole could be promptly plugged.
Obasa explained: “This periodic review will help the parliament in ascertaining how the Executive is performing as far as the 2017 budget estimates are concerned. This review will also help in giving direction to the 2018 budget estimates. Not only will it help us in knowing the performance of MDAs, it will also help us to have an insight into their needs and what they might be lacking. For example, it will help us to know how much furniture public schools in the state need, or what the hospitals need.”
The Speaker, however, directed the committee to work on the issue and report to the House within four weeks.
It was revealed to WESTERNPOST that the 2018 budget estimate may be hitting N1trillion. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode may be presenting this to the House within the last quarter of the year.
Lagos Assembly Accuses Oriade LCDA Boss of Funds Misappropriation
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Assembly accused the Sole Administrator (SA) of Oriade Local Council Development Authority (LCDA), Habib Aileru, of misappropriating council funds, disobedience of local council laws and flagrant disregard of the Governor’s directives.
The House took the resolution at plenary after listening to the complaints of the Chairman, Committee on Public Accounts (Local), Hon. Bisi Yusuf, about series of misdemeanor of Aileru since he became the SA of the LCDA. This, according to the chairman, was discovered in the state Auditor- General’s report the committee is currently working on.
Yusuf said: “There was a clear directive as contained in the law that authorises the SA’s admnistration when they were sworn-in that they must not embark on new projects but rather they should settle outstanding debts of the council to make take-of for the incoming elected council admnistration seamless. But Aileru who was indicted by the Auditor-General’s report went ahead to embark on new projects and instead of settling outstanding debts, indeed increased within three months the debt of the LCDA from N285m to 406m.
“Against the directive of the Governor that collection of revenue by local council should not be contracted out, Aileru single-handedly appointed a contractor to collect revenue for Oriade LCDA, without the involvement or knowledge of the management of the council. When he was cautioned, he said as SA he could do and undo. The council chairman wrote him severally to disengage the contractor but the SA refused and the contractor is still collecting revenue and nobody knows where the revenue is paid into. A total of about N17.8m IGR of the council has been diverted to only where Aileru knows”.
He informed the House that the committee has recommended that Aileru be suspended immediately so that he does not incur more debts for the council and that he should be investigated and prosecuted if found guilty. He is also found guilty of disregarding council laws.
Other lawmakers condemned the attitude of the SA and called for his immediate suspension.
On his part, the Appropriation Committee Chairman, Hon. Rotimi Olowo, called for Aileru’s arrest “because he has changed the structure of the appropriation law.”
A member of the Public Account Committee (Local), Hon. Adefunmilayo Tejuoso, explained: “The height of irresponsible misappropriation of funds and flagrant disregard of the directives of the state perpetrated by the SA are unprecedented. He has turned Oriade LCDA to his personal business like a sole ownership business. He does things without the knowledge of the council chairman, he does not know what the law or what the Governor’s directives are. He has failed as a sole administrator and he should go back to school. The money he misappropriated is too much to be overlooked and it is all in the Auditor-General’s report.”
Chairman, Committee on Information, Hon. Tunde Braimoh, decried putting misfits in position of responsibility. He said: “he should be dealt with to erase the notion in some quarters that we are running a paddy-paddy government”.
The Majority Leader, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, added that the Auditor-General report had indicted the SA and that he should be suspended before he incurs more debts to serve as a deterrent to others.
Political watchers feared it may be difficult for the lawmakers to suspend the indicted Sole Administrator because the House was not instrumental to his appointment. The Sole Administrators’ appointments did not pass through the House for its approval when the appointments were made last year.
Lawmakers Move to Summon SA on Education, PS Ministry of Information over Statement on Proposed Law on Yoruba Language
The Lagos State House of Assembly has, however, directed the Special Adviser to Governor Ambode on Education, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Mr. Fola Adeyemi, to appear before its Committee on Education over a press statement they allegedly issued against a proposed law by the lawmakers on Yoruba language preservation.
The duo was summoned to come and explain the reason why their ministries issued the said press statement against a bill on compulsory teaching of the language in schools.
The development followed a motion moved on the floor of the House on Monday by the Chairman, House Committee on Education, Hon. Olanrewaju Ogunyemi, condemning the statement.
Ogunyemi condemned the statement, saying the House had done so much to protect the native language from going into extinction.
In the press statement issued by the Ministry of Education, the state government condemned the report on social media that Yoruba language’s teaching would be compulsory by 2017/2018 session.
The statement claimed the reports trending on social media that the government has directed that teaching and learning of Yoruba be made compulsory from Primary to Senior Secondary Schools (SS.III) as from next session is false and unfounded.
It said the clarification became necessary following stories on the social media, which have been generating reactions.
The statement said such reports were capable of misleading the pupils, students, education stakeholders and the general public.
The ministry reassured the public that Lagos State Government does not implement policies without far-reaching consultations and communication with relevant stakeholders.
The ministry further called on members of the public to disregard such stories trending on social media platforms.
However, the lawmaker said such a release without consulting the House Committee on Education was a “setback” to its drive to preserve Yoruba Language from going into extinction.
Ogunyemi said: “The Ministry of Education cannot claim ignorance of what the House has been doing on the need to protect Yoruba Language from going into extinction.We held a Public Hearing where the Speaker directed the Ministry of Education to sensitise all stakeholders including the six education districts. We must avoid unnecessary acrimony; we must not be seen by the public to be working at cross purposes. The release is in bad taste to undermine the efforts of the House.”
Supporting the motion, Hon. Rotimi Olowo, the Chairman, House Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, urged the House to set up an ad-hoc committee to look into the matter.
Olowo said: “It is imperative that we set up an ad-hoc committee to look into this. I see no reason why another organ of government should frustrate this effort. Those behind it should be brought to book.”
Meanwhile, Speaker Obasa, who differed from the submission of members, said such release should be disregarded since the House was in the process of making the law.
“It does not matter what the release states, when the Bill is passed , we will send it to the Executive and if they turn it down, we will come back here and do the needful,” Obasa said.
He, however, agreed with members that the Ministry of Education ought to have consulted its counterpart in the House before issuing the statement.
Assembly to Revive Teaching of History in Public Schools
The Lagos State House of Assembly has passed a resolution to revive and enhance teaching and learning of History as a subject in state’s schools for nation-building.
The House called on Gov. Ambode to direct the Deputy Gov. Dr Idiat Adebule, who supervises the Education Ministry, Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board and other relevant agencies to enhance the teaching of History.
The lawmakers also called on the Ministry of Education to brief its House Committee on Education on the strategies to be used to achieve the teaching of History.
The prime mover of the motion and Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Olumuyiwa Jimoh, said: “There had been a decline in the teaching of History in schools. Historical events have now become in vain. Our history and collective patrimonies should be taught in schools to address some of the fundamental issues on nation-building and give us direction. Without history, we are a lost race, it is through history that we know our origin and tradition. We need to resuscitate it and make its teaching compulsory. Without our history, there is no way we can develop.”
The lawmakers, who took turns to decry the decline in the teaching of History in schools, said the country as a whole had suffered hugely from such decline and negligence.
According to them, history is so important for nation-building as well as the socio-economic, cultural and political development of the nation.
The lawmaker decried the decision of the National Council of Education in 2007 rendering the teaching of history unnecessary in schools.
Contributing to the debate, Chairman of the House on Education, Hon. Olanrewaju Ogunyemi from Ojo Constituency 2, confirmed that History was no longer being taught in the primary and secondary in the state.
He explained that the importance of History in the schools could not be over-emphasised, adding further that it helps the people to remember their past and make plans for the future.
Ogunyemi said: “The Minister of Education once called for the re-introduction of History in our schools. The subject was replaced with Civic Education and Government. All these have not been able to give the students what they need to know about the society. No one can kill History no matter how hard they try. The earlier we bring back the subject the better.”
In his contribution, Hon. Abiodun Tobun from Epe Constituency 1, said learning is a continuous process, adding that History should be taught from primary to secondary school and the university.
He said most Nigerians know about their national and political leaders through history and that people adopt role models by learning about them.
Hon. Bisi Yusuf, who represents Alimosho Constituency 1, explained that the decline in history was affecting the nation’s social institutions.
“We have moral decadence in our society today because we don’t study History anymore unlike what used to happen in the past,” said Yusuf
In his comment, Speaker Obasa described history as a “teacher”, saying its teaching has so many benefits to the nation.
Obasa said: “History is like a teacher teaching us where we were, where we are and the way to go. It is to our own advantage-politically, economically, culturally and others. It is important to return History to our curriculum.”
He, however, concluded by saying there was a need for a total overhaul of the educational curriculum to move the nation forward.