Moshood Adebayo and Chinelo Obogo
The rift between the executive and legislative arms of government in Lagos State deepened, yesterday, as the much-anticipated presentation of the 2019 budget was stalled.
The two arms of government have been trading blames over the budget which ought to have been presented at the last quarter of 2018. But, on Sunday, there was information that the governor would present the budget at about 10:00a.m, yesterday.
As early as 8.30a.m yesterday, there was heavy security presence at the assembly premises, in readiness for the governor’s arrival. But, up till about 11:00a.m, there was still no indication that the governor would come as security operatives, who had earlier stood guard at prime spots around the assembly complex, vacated the area.
Daily Sun gathered that the governor had informed the lawmakers, last Friday, that he would present the budget yesterday.
This followed a peace meeting said to have been brokered by ‘an influential personalty’ in the state last week, raising the hope of total reconciliation until the new development.
But, a lawmaker, who spoke privately with correspondents, said they were not aware of plans by the governor to present the budget. He said they only heard about the speculation when they got to the office.
“You know the norm on budget presentation. Usually, the governor would write to the House to inform that he would be coming to present the budget. This letter would be read on the floor of the House during plenary, and preparations would commence to receive him.
“In this case, we are yet to hear anything. Remember we adjourned sitting till today. I’m not aware, except the letter came in this morning,” one of the lawmakers said.
At about 2:30p.m, yesterday, the governor’s advanced team, including the police anti-bomb and other security operatives, stormed the complex, raising expectation that the governor would soon arrive and make the formal presentation of the budget.
However, there was a twist as a police officer, who claimed to be the ‘OC’ of the House, told the governor’s press corps that he had information from the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, that they should leave the premises.
The police officer, who was in plain clothes, quoted the speaker as saying the House was not ready for the governor’s budget presentation as earlier expected.
He said the speaker was having a private meeting with other lawmakers and would not want to be disturbed, and ordered journalists to leave.
“The speaker is having a private session and will not like to see people loitering around the complex. As a result of this, we ask that you leave the premises,’’ the security officer said.
When the House commenced sitting at about 4.30p.m, Obasa asked the Clerk, Azeez Sanni, if there was any message from the governor, to which he replied there was none.
The budget impasse between the executive and the assembly came to a head on January 11, when the assembly insisted that governor 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 informed the assembly that his office received a letter dated, Monday, December 17, 2018, from governor Ambode on Friday, December 28, 2018, containing the 2019 budget.
The assembly said contrary to reports, it did not receive details of the new budget before it went on recess on December 18, 2018.
The speaker had insisted that governor Ambode must appear before the assembly to present the budget, stressing that things must be done properly in accordance with the constitution.
“We are ready to receive the budget, if it is done properly,” Obasa said. In December 2018, the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Olusegun Banjo, said, in a statement, that the 2019 budget was with the lawmakers and 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.