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Confusion over Lagos 2019 budget presentation

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Increased security presence at the Lagos State House of Assembly early on Monday raised speculation that Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode was set to officially present the state’s 2019 budget proposals to the state lawmakers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that there was heavy security presence at the entrance to Lagos Assembly in the morning, which is not unusual during such important events.

The atmosphere, however, later changed after some hours when the security men dispersed, leaving many to believe the presentation was not to be.

Some lawmakers and high ranking officials of the House, who spoke on condition of anonymity, in the morning also said that they were not aware of any budget presentation by the governor scheduled for the day.

However, the situation took another turn when the press crew from the governor’s office, came in around 3:30 pm., only to leave again moments after.

NAN learnt that they had earlier been notified about the presentation and had assembled as early as 7a.m., but had to wait till around 3pm before they were invited into the premises of the House of Assembly.

After a 20-minute wait in the lobby of the legislative building, a man who identified himself as the OC House of Assembly told the crew that what was happening was just a normal session.

The officer said that the ongoing session was not the budget presentation.

The speaker’s aide then politely asked the journalists to leave the lobby of the state assembly.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers who were supposed to sit for plenary session at noon, rose from a parliamentary session at the Lateef Jakande Auditorium and commmenced plenary on the floor at 4:47pm.

NAN reports that numerous observers in the chamber who had waited for hours for the commencement of the sitting, left before it could begin.

As the manner of proceeding is, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, the Speaker of the House, asked the Clerk of the House, Mr Azeez Sanni, if there was any message from the governor, but the Clerk told the House that there was no message.

At the session, Mr Moshood Oshun, the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, laid the report of the public hearing on a bill for a law to amend the Lagos State Audit Law handled by his committee.

NAN reports that a bill for a law to amend the Lagos State High Court Law Cap H5 was read for the third time and passed by the House.

Obasa directed the clerk of the House to forward a clean copy of the bill to Mr Akinwunmi Ambode for assent.

The house rose and adjourned at 4:57 pm until Jan. 28.

Recall that the Lagos State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr Olusegun Banjo, on Jan 2, said the 2019 Budget proposal is already in the State House of Assembly.

Banjo said in a statement that the budget was to have been read before the house on Dec. 24, 2018.

He said that the 2019 budget proposal forwarded by the governor to the House was N852.317billion

The Commissioner said Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode had sent a verbal information to present the budget on December 24, after the state Executive Council approval on Dec. 19.

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 Dec. 28.

“It is expected that when the House reconvenes, the Speaker will inform members of the content of the budget proposal sent by the governor and take necessary action,” he said.

However, the Lagos State House of Assembly on Jan. 10 said Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode must appear before it and properly present the 2019 Appropriation Bill in line with legislative procedure and constitution.

This resolution followed observations raised at its sitting, after the Clerk of the House, Mr Azeez Sanni, read a correspondence from Ambode on the presentation of Year 2019 Budget.

Sanni said that Ambode’s letter on presentation of Year 2019 Appropriation Bill, dated Dec. 17, 2018, was received on Dec. 28, 2018.

The Speaker, Mr Mudasiru Obasa said,“The head of the executive must be ready to come and perform his constitutional responsibility and we are also ready to receive him’’.

He said that nobody else could present the budget according to section 121 of the constitution except the governor.

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