Former Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Olusegun Banjo and his Energy and Mineral Resources counterpart, Mr. Olawale Oluwo have denied that they indicted former governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, before an ad-hoc committee of the Assembly.
Accountant-General of Lagos State, Mrs. Shukrat Umar buttressed the claims of the former commissioners when she appeared before the ad-hoc committee, confirming that the State Executive Council (SEC) approved the budget for the purchase of the 820 vehicles.
She said the report of Ambode’s indictment were a deliberate misrepresentation of what transpired at the proceedings of the investigative committee probing Ambode’s administration.
The Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, had constituted a nine-man ad-hoc committee under the chairmanship of Fatai Mojeed, representing Ibeju-Lekki I state constituency to probe the procurement of 820 high occupancy vehicles, by the Ambode administration under its Bus Reform Initiative (BRI).
He had also claimed that the administration did not seek approval for the procurement of the vehicles and directed the committee to invite Banjo and other top functionaries involved to state their roles in the purchase.
At the proceedings, reports had claimed that Banjo said Ambode sidelined his ministry in the controversial purchase of 820 mass transit buses and that the way the ministry was structured under Ambode did not allow him to function well.
However, in his statement, Banjo denied the reports, noting that he did not say anything before the committee to condemn or indict the Ambode administration under which he served as the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning between February 2018 and May 2019.
He explained that he appeared on October 15 before the committee based on a letter of invitation dated October 11, requesting him “to answer some questions on the purchase of 820 buses as they relate to the function of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget headed by me during the last administration.”
Banjo said he told the committee that he was appointed in February 2018 when the issue of bus purchase had already been on the ground, pointing out that the bus issues were not contained in the budget he managed, though could have been in earlier budgets.
In his own statement, Oluwo acknowledged that he attended the second session of the committee proceedings on October 15 alongside former commissioner for Agriculture, Toyin Suara, noting that reports in some sections of the media were not true.
“Suara and I were called into the conference room at the same time. The lawmakers asked both of us questions in the open. While Suara was asked questions about Lagos Rice Mill Project in Imota, I was asked questions about the LED-UK streetlights installation, a UK Exim Bank funded project.” The former commissioner said it was strange to read reports that Suara and Oluwo said many of the projects including Oshodi Transport Interchange and others were never captured in the state budget.
“This is rather strange. For the avoidance of doubt, I reiterate that I did not and could never have indicted former governor Akinwunmi Ambode. I am a committed democrat, a loyal team player and a strong believer in the principle of collective responsibility,” he said.