Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s request for the Lagos State Assembly to re-order the 2017 budget, ran into stormy waters when the second reading of the bill was taken at plenary. It was stepped down pending further clarification and information from the executive.
Immediately the Clerk of the House, Mr. Azeez Sanni read the re-ordering bill that sought to re-order N42.028billion of the 2017 budget the second time, it set the stage for a debate.
The chairman of the Appropriation committee, Hon. Rotimi Olowo arose to say, despite the desirability of the budget re-ordering, because of the environmental and security issues plaguing the state; the House was in need of more information and clarification from the Ministries Departmental and Agencies (MDA), so as to ensure a proper budget re-ordering.
He opined that the January to June budget performance report from the Executive, which also took into consideration an interaction with these MDAs, clearly showed that monies meant for the execution of projects were not released to them. Which in hindsight is the same funds the executive is seeking to re-order.
Contributing to the debate, Hon. Bisi Yusuf representing Alimosho constituency 1 and a member of the Appropriation committee wondered why the executive should be talking of a budget re-ordering in October when it is meant to be concerned about presenting the 2018 budget before the House.
According to Hon. Yussuf, “budget re-ordering is a failure of the budget Ministry, as most MDAs have been unable to assess their funds. We need explanation why some MDAs are pampered and others are treated otherwise.”
The Chief Whip, Hon. Rotimi Abiru condemned aspects of the budget re-ordering of a Ministry, that has an ambitious housing project for the state and the release of funds for the bulk purchases of buses for public transportation, saying “the government should provide an enabling environment for business instead of purchasing buses for public transportation directly”.
Hon. Abiodun Tobun also frowned at the re-ordering of funds meant for important corporations, like water corporation considering the terrible drinking water situation in the state.
All of the lawmakers who contributed to the debate agreed that the executive should give more clarification and information on the re-ordering bill before the House considers its request.
Agreeing with his colleagues on the need for further clarification and information from the executive, Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa said “we are doing this in good faith, we are asking questions in good faith for the sake of the people. I hereby step down the bill pending clarification from the executive”, Obasa said.
It will be recalled that Ambode wrote to the Assembly about three weeks ago, requesting for the re-ordering of the 2017 budget.
Although the budget size remains N812.998b for the year, the re-ordering is expected to move unused funds from some MDAs that are unable to utilise them before the end of the year to MDAs that needs such funds to take care of more pressing challenges confronting the state.