Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly have threatened to impeach the Executive Governor of the State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, over the spending of the 2019 budget without being laid before the House.
The lawmakers made the threat at the plenary session on Monday at the Assembly Complex in Ikeja, Lagos, as the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt(Hon) Mudashiru Obasa, said that members can start gathering signatures for the Governor’s impeachment.
The lawmakers took turn to react to a report presented by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni as the Chairman of the Committee set up to look into the issues surrounding the 2019 budget during a parliamentary meeting of the lawmakers.
Members of the Committee included Hon. Moshood Oshun, Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts (State), Hon. Moshood Oshun, Chairman, House Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu, Chairman, House Committee on the Environment, Hon. Dayo Saka-Fafunmi and the Chairman, House Committee on Works and Infrastructure, Hon. Abiodun Tobun.
Eshinlokun-Sanni explained that the committee met with relevant commissioners and heads of agencies.
He stated that the committee met with the Commissioner For Budget and Economic Planning, Hon. Segun Banjo, who said that no money had been spent for the year.
He said that the Accountant General told the committee that warrant had been issued that they could spend up to 25% of the preceding budget before the approval of that of the new year.
He said that they would have to make a recourse to the House if they wanted to spend up to N200 Million.
“We pointed out that the Governor ought to lay the budget of the New Year before December 31st, but so far the budget is yet to be laid. We asked them to bring out the law that allows them to spend up to 20% of the budget of the preceding year. They could not bring out such law and we said what they did was wrong”, said Eshinlokun-Sanni
“We discovered that people have started receiving alerts and this has a grave implication for the executive. It is our finding that for smooth running of government, there must be a strict adherent to the constitution and it must not be violated. We decided to bring the report before the lawmakers for us to take action,” he said.
In his comment, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu revealed that the Committee on Budget discovered during budget appropriation review that there were some specific expenditure in the budgets that ought to have been approved by the House over which funds were expended.
Yishawu stated that these were misnomers, and that they noticed variation in the expenditure and budget approved.
“We had issues of virement and monies being spent without approval”
“We had cases of items that were not budgeted for being carried out, it shows the executive rewrite the budget at will”
“The Constitution states that the State House of Assembly must approve all expenditures,” he added.
According to him, things are shutting down, things are being slowed down by the government.
He said that it was as if the executive was tired and that the people were complaining.
“It is as if nothing is happening in the state now. Breach of the constitution and gross misconduct are being committed here, and the punishment is clear”
“We should begin an impeachment process of need be if the executive does not retrace their steps,” he said.
This was corroborated by Hon. Tunde Braimoh, who said that the manner of revelation was of serious concern.
He stated that they all swore to uphold the tenets of the constitution of Nigeria.
He added that Sections 120 and 121 explainedthe roles of each arm of government when it comes to financial expenditure.
“If we continue like this, it means we are moving on the ebb of destruction. The issue of gross misconduct should be closely looked into and necessary sanctions applied,” he said.
This was supported by Hon. Bisi Yusuf, who pointed out that the Governor is an accountant, and that he was an Acting Auditor General in 2001 and was confirmed in 2005.
“With his level of exposure, he cannot claim ignorance. He is being surrounded by intellectuals, so they ought to have advised him including the Deputy Governor and the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning”, said Yusuf
“The Attorney General ought to have been removed for quoting a law that does not exist.All those, who are given the Governor bad advice should be removed. “In the whole of Lagos, things have shut down. This is an offence that is not pardonable. I want to say this is an impeachable offence for the Governor and the commissioners,” he said.
While commenting on the alleged gross misconduct of the governor, Hon. Rotimi Olowo, stated that rewriting of a budget by the executive arm is an impeachable offence, lamenting that government has been shut down and roads are in a sorry state.
” There must be continuity of projects in the budget and this is not followed. Borrowing without informing the house is impeachable. IPP is being owed. If the Governor is tired, he should resign”, said Olowo
Another Lawmaker who also supported his colleagues in the debate, Hon. Rasheed Makinde, stated “Three years down the lane, the executive cannot tell the people of Lagos that they don’t know what they are doing. It is obvious that the Governor is tired, so they should all go. They even made a mistake in the letter they wrote to the House. Lagos State used to present it’s budget before others even before the Federal Government”
“They ought to work based on the budget or they come for reordering. All government agencies have been rendered useless, civil servants are sleeping in their offices. The State House of Assembly must approve the budget. We must pass a vote of no confidence on the Attorney General, Commissioners for Budget, Finance, the Governor and the Deputy Governor”, said Makinde
According to Hon. Yinka Ogundimu, the Governor has always been disobeying the House motions.
“They refused to follow our motions on the environment, which is why everywhere is dirty. If you look at the various projects not provided for in the budget that are being done, then it is breach of the constitution. The people concerned should resign before we invoke the aspect of the constitution that gives us power to remove them from office. We should make it clear that there have been warnings from us”, said Ogundimu
The Majority Leader, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, explained that there are three arms of government of which the executive is one, saying that government is still running and not shut down.
“What we want to do is to ensure that the infractions from one arm of government does not affect another. It is clear that the budget has not been presented before the House. My colleagues have addressed all the issues. We should let the public know that we do not have the budget before the House”, said Agunbiade
“The Commissioners, who were approved by the House and are working with the Governor should have vote of no confidence passed on them. They have failed in their responsibilities”, said Agunbiade
“The next is for the Governor to resign or we should begin an impeachment process against the Governor. We can communicate to him to reign or failure to do that is for us to start collecting signatures of lawmakers so that we can be seeing to have done our job”, he concluded
However, the Speaker of the House, Rt( Hon) Mudashiru Obasa, ruled that it was important to give the Governor a fair hearing over the issue involving the executive and the 2019 Budget.
Obasa stated that there have been violation of the constitution and infractions on the part of the Governor.
“The Attorney General, Finance Commissioner and Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning that ought to have advised the Governor did not do so. The most important thing is that we should let the people know that a budget that was yet to be approved was being spent, which was why we could not attend to the Governor on the budget on Monday 21, January”, said Obasa
“We must give them a fair hearing to come and explain what happened. The point has been made that there must be something before the House before you can commence expenditure. We want to call on the Governor to come within a week to explain himself along with the Governor”, said the Speaker
“We can start gathering signatures for impeachment. We can exercise patience and wait till another time,” he concluded
It was noticed that four lawmakers were absent at the plenary session where the alleged misconducts of Governor Ambode was debated.
Those absent were; Hon. Segun Olulade ( Epe 2), Hon Tobun Abiodun (Epe 1), Hon. Adebayo Osinowo ( Kosofe 1) and the only PDP Lawmaker, Hon Dipo Olorunrinu ( Amuwo Odofin 1).