…May Begin Impeachment Process
By Fumnanya Ojugbana, Lagos
Lagos State House of Assembly has summoned Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to appear before it within one week over the 2019 budget, which has caused disagreement between the two arms of government.
It would be recalled that Governor Ambode had sent the 2019 budget to the House in December against the tradition of laying the budget before the House.
Mudashiru Obasa, Speaker of the House, told the lawmakers that it was important to give the Ambode a fair hearing over the issue involving the governor and the 2019 Budget.
Obasa stated that there had been violation of the constitution and infractions on the part of the governor.
He noted that “the Attorney General, 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, which was why we could not attend to the governor on the budget on Monday 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 House before you can commence expenditure. We want to call on the governor to come within a week to explain himself.
We can start gathering signatures for impeachment. We can exercise patience and wait till another time,” he said.
The lawmakers had reacted to a report presented by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, as the Chairman of the Committee set up to look into the issues surrounding the 2019 budget during a parliamentary meeting of the lawmakers.
Members of the committee included Moshood Oshun, Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts (State); Gbolahan Yishawu, Chairman, House Committee on the Environment; Dayo Saka-Fafunmi and the Chairman, House Committee on Works and Infrastructure, Abiodun Tobun.
Eshinlokun revealed that the committee met with relevant commissioners and heads of agencies. The Deputy Speaker stated that the committee met with the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Segun Banjo, who said that no money had been spent for the year.
He said that the Accountant General told the committee that a warrant had been issued that they could spend up to 25 percent of the preceding budget before the approval of that of the New Year, adding that they would have to make a recourse to the House if they wanted to spend up to N200 Million.
“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, which was on January 23, 2019.
“We asked them to bring out the law that allows them to spend up to 20 percent of the budget of the preceding year. They could not bring out such law and we said what they did was wrong.
“We discovered that people have started receiving alerts and this has a grave implication for the Executive.
“It is our finding that, for smooth running of government, there must be a strict adherence to the constitution and it must not be violated. We decided to bring the report before the lawmakers for us to take action,” he said.
Gbolahan Yishawu revealed that the Committee on Budget discovered during budget appropriation review that there were some specific expenditure in the budgets that ought to have been approved by the House over which funds were expended.
He noted that these were misnomers, and that they noticed variation in the expenditure and budget approved.
We had issues of virement and monies being spent without approval.
We had cases of items that were not budgeted for being carried out, it shows the Executive rewrites the budget at will.
The Constitution states that the State House of Assembly must approve all expenditures,” he added.
“Things are shutting down, things are being slowed down by the government. It was as if the Executive was tired and that the people were complaining.
It is as if nothing is happening in the state now. Breach of the constitution and gross misconduct are being committed here, and the punishment is clear.
We should begin an impeachment process if the Executive do not retrace their steps,” he said.
Tunde Braimoh, while corroborating this, noted that the manner of revelation was of serious concern, adding that they all swore to uphold the tenets of the Nigerian constitution.
He added that Sections 120 and 121 explained the roles of each arm of government when it comes to financial expenditure.
“If we continue like this, it means we are moving on the ebb of destruction. The issue of gross misconduct should be closely looked into and necessary sanctions applied,” he said.
Bisi Yusuf, who was in support of this, pointed out that the governor is an accountant, and that he was an Acting Auditor General in 2001 and was confirmed in 2005.
“With his level of exposure, he cannot claim ignorance. He is being surrounded by intellectuals, so they ought to have advised him, including the Deputy Governor and the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning.
“The Attorney General ought to have been removed for quoting a law that does not exist.
All those, who are giving the governor bad advice should be removed. In the whole of Lagos, things have shut down. This is an offence that is not pardonable. I want to say this is an impeachable offence for the Governor and the commissioners,” he said.
According to Rotimi Olowo, “Rewriting of the Budget is an impeachable offence. The government has been shut down and our roads are in a sorry state. There must be continuity of projects in the budget and this is not followed. Borrowing without informing the House is impeachable. IPP is being owed. If the governor is tired, he should resign.”
Corroborating his colleague, Moshood Oshun noted that “When you apply for a job, and you are given, if you are tired, you can leave. If the governor is tired, he should go. The budget is a law, when we pass a budget, they rewrite their own. What they say is that they are above the law. If you go to Alausa today, all the MDAs are shut down. All their files are with the Governor and he did not work on them.”
Richard Kasunmu said that “This is a non-compliance with the rule of law. The state is about to be totally shut down, so we should checkmate the situation. If the Governor is tired, he should throw in the towel. We cannot keep on standstill because some people are tired.”