By Okunade Adekunle, Lagos
Investigations have revealed that the Lagos State House of Assembly was not in possession of the 2019 Budget as against the claims by the State Government.
The State’s Commissioner For Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Olusegun Banjo had in a press statement entitled: “Lagos 2019 Budget Already In The House- Budget Commissioner,” had on Wednesday January 2 said that the 2019 Budget was already before the State House of Assembly, which he said would have been read before the House on December 24, 2018.
Banjo said that the Governor had sent a verbal information to present the budget on Monday, December 24, 2018 after the State Executive Council approval on December 19, 2018, but the ceremony was postponed as the House was on recess and thereby could not form a quorum.
He said that in order to meet the traditional presentation, a formal letter was sent to the House on Friday, December 28, 2018, forwarding the contents of the budget.
“It is expected that when the House reconvenes, the Speaker would inform members of the content of the Budget proposal sent by the Governor and take necessary action,” he said.
The commissioner said that the size of the 2019 budget proposal forwarded by the Governor to the House is N852.317 Billion.
Investigations however, revealed that there was no way the budget would have been secretly presented to the Assembly, when the constitution of Nigeria stipulated that the budget should be laid before the Assembly in the presence of the lawmakers and members of the public.
Investigation further revealed that the State House of Assembly had been waiting for the budget since September 2018, and that the Governor never communicated to the Assembly to inform the lawmakers that he would bring the budget before the end of the year.
“How could the budget had been presented after the House had gone on recess only for the Commissioner to say that the Assembly was verbally informed that the budget proposal would be presented to the House on December 24.
“How did he bring it or did the Governor brought it personally and who would have received it from him.
“It is funny that the executive was talking about not forming quorum. How did they know this. Would the Assembly form quorum after it had gone on recess? Which quorum are we talking about?Is this the first time Governor Akinwunmi Ambode would be presenting budget to the House. Lagosians should not be fed with lies by the Executive,” said a source close to the Assembly.
It was also gathered that the budget delay was deliberate on the part of the executive arm of the government, which ought to have informed the authorities of the Assembly that the budget would be brought before the end of the year so that the House would not adjourn to January 7th during its last sitting on Tuesday December 18, 2018.
“It was on the State owned radio stations that the lawmakers were hearing the breakdown of the proposed budget which to many of them was strange”, the source lamented.
“It is clear to us now that the Governor is at war with the Assembly, for his Comissioner For Budget to have lied that it has been sent to the Assembly, said the source close to the Assembly.”
From all indications, it is obvious that the executive arm of government is on a collision course with the legislative arm of government if it continues to feed the masses with information that the budget has been submitted whereas the Assembly is claiming the opposite.