By Okunade Adekunle
Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa has restated that the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests across the country destroyed the economy of the state.
Obasa in his speech during the presentation of Budget 2021 by Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of the state titled; “Budget Of Rekindled Hope” estimated at N1.15trillion in the Assembly premises on Tuesday, stated that the devastating effects of the disruptions that followed the #EndSARS protests, in the state particularly, were beyond imaginations.
“The anarchy, burning, and looting of businesses have hit the economy with a blow beneath the belt.
“At the backdrop of the destruction of public and private properties and businesses in the wake of the #EndSARS protests, businesses have been counting their losses while economy experts have listed the immediate challenges the crises will throw-up against Nigeria’s struggling economy.
“Also, the replacement cost to Lagos State Government, which is the worst hit by the crises, is put at N1 trillion. More so, the overall cost to the private businesses has been put at several billions of US Dollars,” he said.
Obasa added that it was evident that the role social media played in all of these could not be overlooked.
According to him, “while we continue to support freedom of expression, willingness to interact with everyone be it youths, elderly and all categories of people as government, there is the need for us to be wary of those who use social media as a weapon of destruction, intimidations, assault and violation of the rights of others.
“When social media is employed in a ruthless manner such that causes disharmony, disaffection, and disintegration among family, friends and ethnic groups, it can no longer be considered to be beneficial to the society as a whole.
“For those who lost their lives and property, particularly the gallant Nigerian police, those whose businesses were destroyed, City Hall, Lagos judiciary, the TVC family, all the petty traders and affected banks and the residents of our dear state, I identify with you all at this trying period.”
The Speaker stated that just like last year, the Governor was in the Assembly to make a formal presentation of the Y2020 budget, but that it was unknown to everyone that a major crisis that would rock the entire world in the name of Coronavirus was in the offing.
He said that COVID-19 really hit the state bad as a people, and that the state recorded many sad deaths in the hand of the deadly virus including those of Hon Tunde Braimoh and Senator Bayo Osinowo, who were members of the Assembly.
“At the same time, all sorts of events have happened in the year 2020 that will take time and resilience to address.
“These events have deepened the projected economic contraction this year, causing disruptions in supply-chain, and faster rise in inflation. As we have heard Mr Governor, the major focus of the Y2021 budget will be to address some of the challenges posed by these unprecedented events.
“You will agree with me that the effects of COVID-19 on the world economy cannot be over-emphasised. Right now, many people have been made unemployed by COVID-19. Some companies are still counting their losses.
“We were still grappling with the resultant effects of COVID-19 when the END SARS protests gritted us. Even though the protesters had good intentions to make their grievances known as regards police brutality in the country, it is sad to note that the action in the long run turned sour as some unpatriotic elements not only hijacked the situation but also saw it as an avenue to unleash mayhem,” he said.
Earlier, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had presented the Year 2021 budget estimates of N1.155trillion.
Recall that on November 8, 2019, Sanwo-Olu proposed fiscal plan of N1.168 trillion, tagged: “Awakening to a Greater Lagos,” which he said would be funded from a projected Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N1.071 trillion. The budget deficit, put at N97.53billion, with N115 billion for public infrastructure, to be financed through internal and external loans.
Besides, the fiscal proposal also included a provision for the new minimum wage.
The initial budget seize was subsequently, reduced to N920.5 billion against N1,168.6 trillion, earlier approved by the State House of Assembly due to unforseen ravaging COVID-19 pandemic economic challenge.
Sanwo-Olu, presenting the budget at the Hallow Chamber of the state House of Assembly, Alausa, Ikeja, unveiled his administration’s plan to remain focussed in the acceleration of the growth of State’s economy despite challenges of COVID-19 pandemic and #EndSARS protests occasioned by destruction of lives and property.