By Olawale Abdul-Fatah
The Lagos House of Assembly has challenged the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to publish the monthly allocation to the lawmakers.
They also demanded that any civil society that has proof of the House monthly allocation should publish their facts.
It would be recalled that some Civil Society Organizations (CSO) had alleged that the lawmakers spend N800 million monthly as running cost.
Speaking on behalf of the lawmakers on Tuesday, the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, made the demands on Tuesday after chairing a plenary session where Ambode presented the 2019 budget which was N852.317billion.
He expressed sadness that despite what he described as false allegations, the executive ‘didn’t deem it fit to address the accusations’.
Despite denying the allegations, the Speaker remained silent on the specific amount spend monthly even as he claimed that the smear campaign may have emanated from the executive.
Obasa said: “The role of budget in economy and its essence are key as provided in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) in Section 121, stipulating that the Governor must prepare and lay the budget before the House, which now creates the avenue to incur expenditure.
“All the arms of government must work together to ensure economic growth and human development. We also need to know that infrastructure of the state is crucial, and the position of Lagos State is germane in Nigeria and its West African suburbs. Being the fifth largest economy in Africa, everything must be done to sustain the leadership quality of Lagos State in all spheres.
“However, the fallout of the budget brawl has led to series of negative publications both on social media and in the print media, which are being sponsored by a faceless group calling themselves the Legislative Probity and Accountability (LPA) led by one Olu Fajana with its pseudonym. This started immediately the misunderstanding between the Executive and Legislative came up in respect of the Y2019 budget; which means that such could not be ruled out to have emanated from the executive.
“A section of the media has even been mischievously misled into sensationally writing all manners of write-ups against this assembly. Some of our friends in the media are personalizing the issue thereby misinforming the public. The fact of the matter is that the issue is between one arm of government and another. What was at stake then was nothing but the matter of appropriation.
“Unfortunately, no one from the Executive has risen to refute the baseless allegations. Since no one has come up to address this, it is incumbent on us then to come forward and debunk the allegations. As such, I use this medium to challenge the governor, the Finance Commissioner and the Accountant General of the state to prove that we have been collecting N800 million per month since the onset of this administration. Thank God the governor is before us here today; so also, is the Finance commissioner sitting in this hallowed chamber.
“I likewise challenge the faceless group to prove that this Assembly has been collecting N800 million per month as alleged. In the same vein, this is also an opportunity to shed more light on unsubstantiated allegations regarding financial misappropriation, which is a clearly well-orchestrated campaign to disrepute my character and integrity as the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, and by implication tarnish the image of the legislative arm of the state government.
“It must be known that the monthly running cost of the Lagos State House of Assembly covers the entire expenditure of the House comprising the 40 elected legislators and the administration of over 700 staff. It includes sundry items such as travels, training (both local and overseas) office running and maintenance, vehicles, entertainment, publicity, security, protocols, logistics and administrative costs among others.”