• Says Ex-Gov Implemented 97% Recurrent, 29% Capital Expenditures •Seeks Budget Re-ordering
The frosty relationship between the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, and his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, further degenerated yesterday as a letter indicting the previous administration of abysmal implementation of the 2015 budget was read on the floor of the state House of Assembly.
Ambode took over from Fashola on May 29, 2015. He has, since then, cancelled some of the contracts and agreements entered into by the Fashola’s administration and also released indicting information about the amounts approved by the last administration for certain contracts.
The Government had posted information on the official website of the state’s Public Procurement Agency (PPA) http://www.lagosppa.gov.ng about the list of contracts awarded under the Fashola administration. The list stated that Fashola had spent N78.3 million on his personal website, http://www.tundefashola.com, in 2014, and another N139 million on the drilling of two boreholes at the Lagos House, Ikeja.
The information generated uproar from the public who had viewed the former governor as a Spartan administrator. Fashola, however, fired back describing the development as an attempt to drag him into a dirty pig fight.
Government has, however, removed the controversial information from the section listing all the contracts awarded under the Fashola administration between 2013 and 2014.
In a letter dated September 3, 2015, Ambode had urged the House of Assembly to grant the re-ordering of the N489.690 billion 2015 budget to jumpstart some infrastructural projects approved by the Fashola administration and complete certain ongoing projects in the state.
The governor, in the letter, revealed that as at June 30, 2015, a month after Fashola handed over to him, the overall performance of the budget stood at 63 per cent, a distant leg from the set target of 100 per cent.
Ambode had described the Fashola administration’s attention to capital projects in his last budget as “abysmal”.
The governor writes: “When further analysed, the recurrent expenditure stood at 97 per cent, while capital expenditure was at an abysmal 29 per cent performance, portending a 24:76 capital/recurrent ratio.”
This level of performance, according to Ambode, made it imperative to go back to the drawing board to structure a more conscientious approach to tilt the total capital investment in the remaining months of the 2015 budget so as to meet the target capital/recurrent ratio of 51:49.
According to the Governor, a sum of N23.97 billion would need to be re-ordered, out of which, the sum of N18.278 billion would be voted for capital projects, while N5.697 billion is meant for recurrent expenditure.
Reasons for the re-ordering, according to the letter, include construction of pedestrian bridge at Ojodu Berger and construction of fly-over bridges at Ajah Roundabout and Pen Cinema, Agege.
The letter said further that the budget re-ordering proposal would cater for the continuation of the construction of blue light rail project; continuation of the construction of Lekki-Epe Expressway and acquisition of emergency/rescue helicopters and heavy duty equipment (cranes and forklift) and for employment, trust fund and wealth creation programmes.
He, however, noted that the government would not present any supplementary budget for the remaining year because of lack of new revenue sources to fund the appropriations.
“It is worthy of note that we are constrained by the fact that there are no new revenue sources for the remaining months of the year, and as a result, we would not be in a position to propose a Supplementary Budget. Hence, the recourse to a re-ordering of the Y2015 Budget,” the letter reads.
Meanwhile, the Assembly has constituted an eight-man ad hoc committee to look into the governor’s letter.
Rotimi Olowo from Shomolu Constituency 1 would serve as Chairman of the committee, while members include Desmond Elliot, Ibrahim Layode, Rasheed Makinde, Dayo Saka Fafunmi, Yinka Ogundimu, Mojeed Fatai Adebola and Alimi Kassim.
The committee is to report back to the House on Tuesday, September 22, 2015.
Debating the matter on the floor of the House, Saka Fafunmi had suggested that it was necessary to set-up a committee to look into the request, and Segun Olulade supported, saying the letter was overdue.
Olulade said further that the state yearns for infrastructural development, adding that the issue should be addressed as early as possible.
In his contribution, Olumuyiwa Jimoh, who is the Deputy Majority Leader of the House, said that the presentation of the 2016 budget was close-by and that this could affect the budget re-ordering, adding that the attention of the governor should be called to the need for the House to approve the merging of ministries.
Gbolahan Yishawu from Eti Osa Constituency II suggested that the matter should be given a speedy attention and a thorough look by the House.
“The executive council should give us enough insight into collections of revenue to know how the different agencies are performing. We should look at this when we are considering next year’s budget. A particular source can increase even if we don’t have a new source,” he said.
However, Tobun Abiodun from Epe Constituency 1 observed that the content of the letter was straightforward enough and that there was no need for the House to raise an ad hoc committee to handle the matter.
He urged the House to give an express passage to Ambode’s request, as the House had done so in the past.
But Ibrahim Layode from Badagry 1 faulted Tobun’s comment, and urged the Speaker to ask him to withdraw his statement.
Layode said he had been in the House since 2007 and there was never a time when the House gave express passage on such request.
Others such as Funmilayo Tejuosho, Kasunmu Adedamola, Victor Akande and Saka Solaja supported the setting up of a committee to look into the request.
In his submission, Speaker Mudashiru Obasa said that Ambode should be commended for continuing with the projects of the former governor.
“It shows that members of our party work hand in hand. Most of the things written in the letter are part of the resolutions of the House. The Governor deserves commendation and we should support him at all times,” he stated.