AMBODE MUST DO THE NEEDFUL- LAGOS ASSEMBLY MAJORITY LEADER

By Ebun Sessou

Mr. Sanai Agunbiade is the Majority Leader in the Lagos State House of Assembly. In this interview, he speaks on the issue of budget infractions and the impeachment threat against the state Governor Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

Why is impeachment against the governor coming now?

There is no budget before the House of Assembly. Budget estimate is to be considered and passed by the legislature. So, we are anxious to receive it and all through last year, there were arguments whether it was before the House of Assembly and we kept saying that it was not before the House of assembly because it had not been laid. We were willing to take the budget but we did not have the budget.

And asides from that, what we discovered was that expenditure has been incurred and warrants have been issued in respect of the budget that has not been laid before the House of Assembly.

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This, we find as inappropriate and a committee was set up. Before this time also, we have find some infractions in the 2018 budget, where we discovered that some expenditures were made aside the budget without the approval of the House of Assembly.

And that takes us to some of the allegations that we have read in print media and the social media that the current disagreement between the executive and the legislators was because the House of Assembly wanted the governor to fund their campaigns. How can the governor fund the campaign of individuals when we have a Peoples Democratic Party member among us? The issue we are talking about is the budget.

We want to say that the House of Assembly is doing this in the interest of the public and to the extent that we want Lagos to continue to flourish without compromising the constitution. We have made efforts to invite the Governor over all these infractions to come and explain his own side of the issue.

Of course, the constitution is so clear about what is to be done where there are infractions and that was why the issue of impeachment came that where these infractions continued with impunity and nothing was done even when an opportunity has been given to clear it, we will apply the strict provision of the constitution which is impeachment and that is why we cannot put the cart before the horse. While members of the public are calling on the House not to impeach, they should also tell the governor to do the needful in respect of the budget. This is the first time this is happening in the history of Lagos State.

Why are you bringing infractions of the 2018 budget now?

The fact is this, when you are operating a budget there is something called media review, that is, to review the budget as it is being spent. And when you gather comments from various committees, each committee will handle the budget of the corresponding Ministries and MDAs and will review it once it is passed. Some of these issues would have dragged and some addressed but if they cannot be solved completely before the end of the session or before another budget is presented, all these issues will be addressed while you are defending your budget.

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You don’t just present the budget and go. You lay your budget and the House will now commit it to the various committees and you will go before the various committees to defend your budget estimate for the current year vis-a-vis the preceeding year and give justification why you have to take more or take less, why the figures are to be changed. So, it is an opportunity for you now to answer some questions that have been observed. So, if the budget has been presented, it would have been committed to the committees and most of these questions would have been asked and answered.

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