By MOSHOOD ADEBAYO
The entire Lagos State House of Assembly complex, Alausa, Ikeja was a beehive of activities last Tuesday (November 29), when Governor Akinwunmi Ambode presented the 2017 budget to the lawmakers.
To show the seriousness of the event, Ambode came with his team in the State Execurive Council even as menbers of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) turned up in large numbers to witness the presentation of the budget, christened, “Golden Jubilee” which is to mark the creation of Lagos State.
The budget estimates are to consolidate on the gains in terms of fixing infrastructure and indeed, the delivery of democracy dividends to the people. The government plans to begin work on the Fourth Mainland Bridge next year among other projects that would improve people’s lives.
Though the exercise would not be the first in the history of the Eighth Assembly, the atmosphere within and around the complex spoke volume about the importance attached to the exercise by stakeholders.
Before the exercise billed to commence at 10am, the Assembly complex had been filled to the brim, while security operatives had their hands full on that day.
Even Governor Ambode’s team in the state Executive Council including his Deputy, Dr. (Mrs) Idiat Adebule and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Tunji Bello, were already seated. On the political side, the APC was led by the state chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale, while party top shots including Chief Olorunfumi Basorun, AlhajiMutiu Are, Chief Stephen Oyedele, Cardinal James Odunmbaku, Chief Murphy Adetoro, Senator Tony Adefuye, Chief (Mrs) Kemi Nelson, were also in attendance.
A former governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, was represented by his wife, while the traditional institution was represented by Lagos white cap chiefs. An activist, Dr. (Mrs) Joe Okei-Odumakin was also in attendance. Ahead of the event proper, the lawmakers debated the rising cases of kidnapping and other violent crimes in the state, against the backdrop of recent events, especially the kidnap of five persons in Epe .
The lawmakers resolved to call on the state government to redouble efforts at stemming the tide of criminality in the state. The moment almost everybody was waiting for eventually came when Governor Ambode was ushered into the chamber for the business of the day, presentation of the ‘Golden Jubilee’ budget in view of the state’s 50th anniversary in 2017.
Said Governor Ambode: “The year 2016 budget of N662.588billion was approved and signed into law on January 4, 2016 to focus on the expectations and priorities of our people. As at the end of October, 2016, the overall performance of the budget was 71%.
He said revenue stood at N350billion/77.5% while capital expenditure closed at N200billion/62% and the recurrent expenditure performed at N180billion/82%. “As you are all well aware, we shall continue to render our performance/activities through our Quarterly Town Hall Meetings in which the last three meeting showcased all our activities in all sectors. “It is my strong belief that by the end of this year, there would have been more improvements in the performance indices due to our strong investment in in fracture.
“It is worthy to note also that the reforms and restructuring in the public service have continued to yield positive and encouraging results as we continue to invest resultant saving in other economic sectors of the state.
“Mr. Speaker, honourable members, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the people’s budget of 2016 has positively impacted on the lives of Lagosians and I am confident that the 2017 budget will consolidate on our modest achievements and propel our state to enviable heights.
“The 2017 Budget will be in effect at an auspicious time when the state will be celebrating its golden Jubilee anniversary. The proposed budget with a size of N812.998 billion will continue the massive renewal of our infrastructure and the enhancement of Lagos as one of the foremost tourism and investment destinations in Africa.
“While we focus physical on infrastructure, we shall continue to pay due attention to social infrastructure, especially health, education, youth and social development in 2017. “The key components of the golden Jubilee budget are: budget size – N813billion recurrent expenditure – N300.53billion capital expenditure – N512.464billion capital/recurrent ratio – 63:37.
“A key focus of the budget for the 2017 is road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance. Our government will focus on roads that will open up the hinterlands, improve connectivity in the state and reduce travel time. Some of these projects will include: Murtala Muhammed International Airport road from Oshodi, Agric-Isawo-Owutu-Arepo road in Ikorodu, Igbe-Igbogbo phase II,Bola Tinubu Way in Ikorodu, Ijegun-Imore phase II Amuwo in Ojo axis, Oke-Oso-Araga-Poka in Epe Epe-poka-Mojoda in the Epe axis.”
What further made the speech even more pleasant to the ears of many was the announcement of commencement of work on the Fourth Mainland Bridge in 2017, to run across no fewer than three local governments in the state They were even happier that their requests for better infrastructure submitted trough their lawmakers during this year’s Stakeholder’s summit put together by the House of Assembly is yielding results. The Obasa-led Assembly initiated the idea on assumption of office and has used the medium to attract several projects across the state.
Now it was the turn of Speaker Obasa:
“Ladies and gentlemen, when I assumed the Speakership of this House about 18 months ago, I promised to lead an Assembly that would make and sustain positive impact on the lives of Lagosians by enacting laws that would aid socio-economic development and growth of the state. “In this regard, fellow Lagosians, since the inception of the Eighth legislative Assembly, your House of Assembly has made immense contribution through legislation and resolutions that are geared toward legal backing for policies, programmes and other activities of the government as well as to aid development in all areas of the state. “With the feat achieved by Governor Ambode in the last one year, there is no doubting the responsiveness and readiness of this noble House to pass pro-people and pro-development legislations. The supportive role played by this honourable house has contributed in no small measure to the creditable performance of Mr. Governor in the outgoing year, much to the admiration of Lagosians.” Against the backdrop of the cordiality existing between the House and Ambode who shook hands with all the lawmakers after his speech, expectations are high that the budget will be ready by the end of the year. When the House received the 2016 budget estimate, it did promise that the document will be ready before the end of last year and kept to its promise. Observers believe that the lawmakers will once again toe a familiar path in line with its avowed commitment of giving the governor quality support because the budget also focuses on education, health, social and youth development along side physical infrastructure, which are top on the agenda of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). This much was the line of thought of the Chairman, House Committee on Information and Strategy, Hon. Tunde Braimoh who assured that the lawmakers will remain pro-people “if you look at the antecedents of this legislature, you will know that will stand for the good the people of Lagos. We remain committed to that promise,” he said.