Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was summoned by the Lagos State House of Assembly yesterday to appear before it within one week on the controversy concerning this year’s budget.
The year’s Appropriation Bill has not been presented to the lawmakers, causing hot disagreement between the Executive and the Legislature.
Last month, the governor sent the budget to the Assembly against the tradition of laying it before the Assembly.
Speaker Mudashiru Obasa told his colleagues at yesterday’s plenary that it was important to give the governor a fair hearing on the budget.
The Speaker recalled that there had been violations of the Constitution and alleged infractions by the governor.
He said: “The Attorney General, the Finance Commissioner and Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, who ought to have advised the governor did not do so.
“The most important thing is that we should let the people know that a budget that was yet to be approved was being spent. This was why we could not attend to the governor on the budget on January 21.
“We must give them a fair hearing to come and explain what happened. The point has been made that there must be something before the Assembly before you can commence expenditure. We want to call on the governor to come within a week to explain himself along with the other officials.
“We can start gathering signatures for impeachment. We can exercise patience and wait till another time.”
The lawmakers were reacting to a report presented by Deputy Speaker Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni as the Chairman of the committee set up to examine issues surrounding the 2019 budget at a parliamentary meeting of the lawmakers.
Members of the Committee included the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts (State), Moshood Oshun; the Chairman of the House Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, Gbolahan Yishawu; the Chairman of the House Committee on the Environment, Dayo Saka-Fafunmi and the Chairman of the House Committee on Works and Infrastructure, Abiodun Tobun.
Eshinlokun said the committee met with relevant commissioners and heads of agencies, including the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Segun Banjo, who said no money had been spent in this year’s budget.
The lawmaker said the Accountant General told the committee that a warrant had been issued that they could spend up to 25 per cent of the preceding year’s budget before the approval of the new year’s appropriation.
He said they would liaise with the Assembly if they wanted to spend up to N200 million.
Eshinlokun said: “We pointed out that the governor ought to lay the budget of the New Year before December 31, but that so far the budget was yet to be laid.
“We asked them to bring out the law that allows them to spend up to 25 per cent of the budget of the preceding year. They could not bring out such a law and we said what they did was wrong.
“We discovered that people had started receiving alerts and this has a grave implication for the Executive.
“It is our finding that for smooth running of the government, there must be a strict adherent to the constitution, and it must not be violated.
“We decided to bring the report before the lawmakers for us to take action.”
Yishawu said the Committee on Budget discovered during the budget review that there was specific expenditure that should have been approved by the Assembly on which funds were expended.
The lawmaker averred that these were misnomers, and that the Assembly noticed variation in the expenditure and budget approved.
“We had issues of virement and funds being spent without approval. We had cases of items that were not budgeted for being carried out. It shows the executive rewrite the budget at will.
“The Constitution states that the House of Assembly must approve all expenditures,” he added.