By Kazeem Ugbodaga
The Lagos State House of Assembly on Thursday insisted that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode must appear before it to present the 2019 Budget as required by the law.
This followed the information read on the floor of the House by the Clerk, Mr. Azeez Sanni intimating the lawmakers that his office received a message from Ambode dated Monday, 17 December, 2018, but which he received on Friday, 28th December containing the 2019 Budget.
However, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, who commended the lawmakers for their reaction to the message, stated that this was not the time for resentment, acrimony and agitation, adding that the stake before the lawmakers was beyond 2019.
“We must do everything to sustain our government, party and the state. You have all shed light on the issue in a matured matter.
“We went on break on 18th December, 2018. The first call I received on the budget was on 24th December that the Governor was willing to present the budget on that day.
“We normally go on break for six weeks, but we went on break for two weeks as we were waiting for the budget. Also, we received the budget on 28th December, when we were waiting for the New Year break. There is no reason to shift the blame on the House that we were not willing to receive the budget,” he said.
Obasa added that the lawmakers were willing to receive the 2019 budget, saying that this was one of the reasons they were elected into office.
The Speaker, however, said that this must be done properly by the Governor in accordance with the Section 121 of the Nigerian Constitution which stated that the budget must be presented to the House before the end of a financial year.
“We are ready to receive the budget if it is done properly. We have no resentment, we have no bad blood. Our stake is beyond 2019. What we have here is not even a letter, it is presentation of budget by the Governor. The executive headed by the Governor must be ready to present the budget and we are ready to receive it,” he said.
In his contribution, Hon. Yinka Ogundimu (Agege 2) said that the letter on 2019 Budget from the Governor got to the House on 17th December, 2018 and was received on Friday 28th, December, 2018.
“We normally close early, but we closed late to receive the budget, it came about three days to the New Year and there was nothing we could have done.
“The House normally have a date with the Governor, when he would present the budget. This is a clear departure from the norm and I think this should be addressed by all,” he said.
Also contributing to the matter, Hon. Olanrewaju Ogunyemi (Ojo 2) stated that he listened to the Clerk of the House about the correspondence from the governor, which he said ought to have been read out.
Ogunyemi said that if it was the actual budget, then they would excuse the Clerk for not reading it.
He emphasized that the budget got to the House three days away from the New Year, which he said was unusual.
According to him, the second reading of the budget could not come until January, 2019, and that the House was alive to its responsibility.
In his comments, Hon. Dayo Saka-Fafunmi (Ifako-Ijaiye 1) said that the observation raised by Hon. Yinka Ogundimu was apt, and that the budget was part of the reasons they were elected into the House.
“The first reading of the budget ought to be done by the Governor, who ought to lay the estimate before us. Since this has not been done, then we must insist on the proper procedure,” he said.
This was corroborated by Hon. Moshood Osun (Lagos Mainland 2), who read Section 121 of the Nigerian Constitution, which addressed the issue of budget presentation to the lawmakers.
Oshun said that it was on record that the House normally passed the budget before the next financial year.
He said: “If the budget was brought on 28th December, there was no way we could work on it. The leadership of the House should take it up,” he said.
The Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, who said that the budget issue was in public domain, revealed that he received several calls on the issue, but that he did not make any comment because he wanted to get proper information from the House on it.
“It is clear that we were ready to work on the budget before the Christmas break, but we could not work on it because we did not get it in time. We all know that there were always bilateral meetings between the executive and the legislature before the budget is presented to the House.
“The constitution states that the Governor should lay the budget before the House. May be the correspondence before the Clerk is about the presentation of the budget. So, what is before the House is a document that ought to be laid before the House and the committees of the House would sit on it.
“The report could not be considered by the committees if it is not laid. “Members of the public may not know the procedure of the budget. “Section 121 of the Nigerian Constitution states that the budget must be laid before the House before the end of a financial year.
“We should handle it in our usual family way and ensure that the executive does the normal thing as we are ready to do our work,” he said.
The House then adjourned sitting to Tuesday 15 January, 2019.