Budget Of Continuity? Here’s A Breakdown of Sanwo-Olu’s N873.7b Newly-signed Budget of Lagos State

After so much drama, intrigues and power-play, the 2019 budget of Lagos State has finally been signed into law by the newly sworn-in governor of the 20 million plus inhabitants strong Lagos state, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

The Governor, just four days after being sworn-in signed the 2019 Appropriation Bill into law on Monday.

The budget which totaled at N873,532,460,725 has a recurrent expenditure totalling N393, 841,387 and is about 45 per cent of the entire budget with Capital expenses of N479, 691, 775 which is about 55 per cent of the entire budget.

The Budget Of ‘Drama’

This ride towards the signing into law of the budget has been an interesting and controversial one. A short background recall would suffice here.

On January 30th, just about 30 days to the end of his tenure, news filtered out on the attempted impeachment moves going on against former Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode and what was the reason? The Lagos state lawmakers were annoyed that the governor was disbursing funds from the state purse without a budget being passed. They saw this as an affront on their legislative powers and therefore vowed to impeach him.

The obviously frosty relationship between the Executive and the Legislative arms of the government had nose-dived as the lawmakers reconvened sitting, on Monday, with a move to impeach Governor Ambode over financial misconduct and violation of the 1999 Constitution.

At the sitting, the issue led to a division in the Assembly. While a faction believed to have a score to settle with the governor, insisted on Ambode’s impeachment, another faction sympathetic to Ambode opined that impeachment should not be the last option. A one week ultimatum was thereafter given to the governor, summoning him before it to respond and defend himself against the accusations levelled against him or risk impeachment.

The intervention of the national leader of the All Progressives Congress over the weekend eventually saved the day. The matter was resolved in a meeting which had the Speaker of the House, the governor and the national leader in attendance.

After this, the governor would later go ahead to present the budget before the house and it was passed on April 30th but alas, either in retaliation for his effrontery or as a directive from the national leader himself (we never would know), the House of Assembly foot dragged on transmitting the passed budget to the governor and ensured that he didn’t get to sign the budget until he handed over on May 28.

A source who spoke to Punch Newspapers said, “The governor submitted a budget of N852bn based on the revenue projections of the state and federal allocation. However, the lawmakers padded the budget by N21bn and held unto it, knowing that Ambode, who is an accountant and permanent secretary, would not sign it without scrutiny.

“They waited until May 27, which was the eve of Ambode’s departure, to submit the budget. Of course, there was no way he would have been able to scrutinise the budget within such a short period and sign it in 24 hours.

“The lawmakers made sure they increased the funds allocated for constituency projects and their own budget.”

So much drama for a budget you would say.

The Budget Explained…

The 2019 budget has a difference of about  527 billion from that of 2018. The 2018 budget was the first to cross the one trillion naira mark with a total of N1.4 trillion!

Explaining the reason for the reduction, Ambode had explained that there was a reduction in the projected revenue of the state, which affected the implementation of the 2018 budget estimates.

According to him, “In the outgoing year, however, we experienced a reduction in our revenue projections, which affected our projected performance and our desired implementation of the Y2018 Budget. The overall Budget performance as at November 2018 stood at 60 per cent/N574,206billion with actual cumulative total revenue of N530,192billion/64 per cent, Capital Expenditure closed at N311,930billion/49 per cent and Recurrent Expenditure performed at N262,276billion/82 per cent.

Another twist to the budget is the fact that the entire budget passed by the Assembly  comes with a difference or addition of N21.215 billion from that presented by Ambode. This ostensibly was added by the lawmakers as they increased their own running cost and also constituency project costs!

Giving a breakdown of the expected coverage of the budget while outlining the key components of the 2019 budget and the sectoral allocations, the governor said with priority given to completion of major infrastructure projects and smooth transition to the next administration, the government was proposing a total budget size of ‘N852,316,936,483,’ including a deficit financing of N77.086billion which is expected to be sourced from internal loans and other sources.

He added: “The projected total revenue for Year 2019 is ₦775.231billion, of which ₦606.291billion is expected to be generated internally, ₦168.940billion is expected from Federal Transfers while a total of ₦77.086billion will be sourced through deficit financing within our medium term expenditure framework.

The projects expected to be covered and finished within the life span of the budget include the Oshodi-Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road; Agege Pen Cinema Flyover; Phase II of Aradagun-Iworo -Epeme Road, Oshodi Interchange Terminal; completion of JK Randle Complex, Onikan Stadium; Imota Rice Mill; Renovation/Furnishing of Lagos Revenue House, amongst others in order to meet their specified deliverable outcomes without any bias or prejudice to others.”

And Sanwo-Olu Hits The Ground Running

And so the Sanwo-Olu and Obafemi Hamzat administration hits the ground running with the signing of the 2019 Appropiation bill into law and it promises from all indications to be an eventful ride ahead.

With his signature appended and putting the budget into effect, Lagosians will be looking forward to a smooth delivery and the fulfillment of all his campaign promises like that on transportation where he has promised to build the next Badagry ports in order to de-congest the Apapa ports as well as provision of basic amenities.

On the issue of alleged budget padding, inflation with increase in their own running cost as well as constituency projects, it doesn’t seem the Sanwo-Olu led administration is ready to ruffle any feathers  at all, at least not yet. This can be gleaned from the response the new governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile who confirmed to Punch Newspaper while he confirmed the signing of the budget on Monday.

Akosile had allayed fears of budget padding saying that the new government would ensure transparency and accountability.

He said, “The budget will be signed on Monday. The people of Lagos are desperate to get to the next level and this budget will cater to their needs. We don’t know anything about budget padding because we just got into office.

“A budget is a plan for spending. It doesn’t necessarily mean that all the money will be released.”

And so with this tone, it is obvious that the governor has decided to take the easy route, ruffle no feathers but just move on with the status quo. As it appears, he has learnt quite a lot from his predecessors travails and is not ready to make same mistakes.

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