Politics, internal wrangling delay presentation of Lagos budget
Politics and infighting in the Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC), occasioned by fallout of its government primaries, may be responsible for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s delay in presenting the 2019 appropriation bill to the House of Assembly.
Ambode presented the 2018 budget on December 11, 2017, about 20 days to end of year as against the current situation, which is less than 18 days to the end of 2018.
This year’s budget, the biggest the state ever presented, was the second largest state budget in the country. Also, the 2017 budget was presented on November 29, 2016, about 32 days to end of year.
With the 2018 budget hitting the N1 trillion mark, it is also expected that the 2019 budget would not fall below the 2018 appropriation act and as such, it would require thorough scrutiny by the Assembly, yet it has not been presented to the House.
It took about 35 days for the Assembly to approve the N812 billion 2017 budget, which to some analysts, was hastily passed, just as it took about 51 days to pass the N1.046 trillion 2018 budget.
The development has created fear that the budget could be ready by February 2019 at the latest, as lawmakers would be campaigning to return to the Assembly, which might limit their time consider the appropriation bill.
A few states have presented their 2019 budgets, but stakeholders have argued that Lagos should be among the first to do so, since it has the largest state economy in Nigeria.
The state economy is also ranked the fifth largest in Africa. There are fears that delaying budget may slow down the execution of projects, as funds may not be released early.
It was learnt that politics, executive and the legislative rift and other interests were responsible for the delay.
A source told The Guardian that the overbearing influence of the legislature on state matters has made the executive to buy time in presenting the budget, since presenting the budget after APC’s primaries could further heat up the policy, which were seen in some of the pronouncements made by the Assembly after the exercise.
The source noted that the case is worsened because the Assembly seems to be enjoying some support from the party leaders in the state, who are using the assembly to check the power and influence of the governor.
The source cited the resignation letter of immediate past Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Wale Oluwo, in which he alleged that a powerful block in the party was using an arm of government to intimidate other institutions of government.
Attempts to get the state government’s response were not successful, but the Public Relations Officer (PRO) in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget said only Ambode could explain why he had not presented the budget.
Also, attempts to reach Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan on phone through calls and text message failed.
He acknowledged receiving the text and promised to revert, but failed to do so as at the time of filling this report.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has scored Ambode high on performance in office, especially between November 2016 and February 2018.
The group said the governor consolidated on his first year record and implemented other policies, programmes and executed projects that touch more lives at the grassroots level.
Its Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran, stated this at the public presentation of a book titled: Lagos Open Parliament 4: Hitting a Desirable Paradigm yesterday.
“It is evident that within the few years Ambode has been in power, his contribution towards transforming Lagos into a modern mega city has been commendable given the workload left behind as a result his predecessors’ recklessness,” he said.
Activist and former students’ union leader, Lanre Adeleke, who reviewed the book, tasked Ambode on speedy passage of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) for the purpose of accountability.