Lagos: Showdown looms over 2019 budget

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Lagos State House of Assembly has insisted that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode must appear before it and present the 2019 Appropriation Bill, in line with parliamentary tradition.

The lawmakers resolved that Ambode must personally present the budget, in plenary, after the Clerk, Mr. Azeez Sanni, informed the assembly that his office received a Monday, December 17, 2018 message from governor Ambode on Friday, December 28, 2018, containing the 2019 budget.

The chamber said contrary to reports, it did not receive details of the new budget before it went on recess on December 18, 2018.

Regardless, the Majority Leader, Sanai Agunbiade, refuted this. He said the assembly could not work on the budget because it was not sent on time.

“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 on time. We all know there are 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. Maybe 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 will 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,” Agunbiade said.

On his part, Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, who presided over the session, insisted that governor Ambode must appear before the assembly to present the budget, insisting that things must be done properly in accordance with the constitution.

“We are ready to receive the budget if it is done properly. We have no resentment or bad blood. Our stake is beyond 2019. What we have here is not even a letter, it is the presentation of the budget by the governor.

The governor’s media office did not respond to enquiries on the matter.

Last Thursday, Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Olusegun Banjo, said, in a statement, that the new budget was with the lawmakers and that the governor had sent a verbal information to present the budget on December 24, 2018; after the state Executive Council’s approval on December 19, 2018.

According to him, the presentation did not take place as the House was on recess and could not form a quorum. He said in order to meet the traditional presentation, a formal letter with the proposed budget attached, was sent to the House on December 28.

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