With N813bn Budget, Ambode Moves to Change Face of Lagos

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Niyi Anibaba

For residents in Lagos, the year 2016 was by far a good year. Despite the nationwide economic recession, the State witnessed tremendous growth especially in the areas of infrastructural development and economic growth.

When the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on December 17, 2015 presented the N662,588billion 2016 Budget, tagged ‘The Peoples Budget’ he was very optimistic that not only would the budget propel the state to greater development, but would also work for all Lagosians. Two weeks after the House of Assembly passed the budget, precisely on December 31, 2015 Governor Ambode wasted no time in assenting to the document on the first working day of the New Year and immediately hit the ground running.

By all standards, this year’s budget lived up to expectation despite
cynicism in some quarters who at the onset posited that the Lagos 2016
budget was overambitious and unrealistic. In the last 11 months,
series of projects have dotted  the metropolis including slip roads,
lay-bys, segregated bus parks, pedestrian bridges rehabilitation and
construction of road networks.

Little wonder, as at the end of October, 2016, the overall performance
of the budget stood at 71 percent. It was with this momentum that Governor Ambode on Tuesday, November 29, presented the Year 2017 Budget proposal of N813billion to the House of Assembly, so far the biggest ever by a state in the
Federation.

Much as the size of the budget looks ambitious, the projects expected to benefit from it would certainly go a long way to improve the economy of the state and make life more comfortable for Lagosians. At the brief but impressive ceremony, the governor assured thousands of Lagosians who had thronged the hallowed chambers of the House of Assembly, including former speakers of the House of Assembly including party chieftains, members of the State Executive Council, traditional rulers, religious leaders, among others that the budget would be judiciously implemented to continue the massive infrastructural renewal and the enhancement of Lagos as one of the foremost tourism and investment destination in Africa.

Christened “The Golden Jubilee Budget” as it coincides with the State’s 50th Anniversary, Governor Ambode said it would focus on physical infrastructure, while social sectors especially health, education, youth and social development would get adequate attention. Giving the key components of budget, he said recurrent expenditure would gulp N300.535billion while N512.464billion would be dedicated to capital expenditure, representing a Capital/Recurrent ratio of 63 percent to 37 percent.

According to the governor, road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance would be one of the key focuses of the budget, adding that efforts would be geared towards roads that will open up the hinterlands, improve connectivity in the state and reduce travel time. He listed some of the road projects to include Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road from Oshodi, Agric-Isawo-Owotu-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 and the completion of the Abule-Egba, Ajah and Pen Cinema flyovers.

The governor also said that within the course of the budget implementation, his administration would enter into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to execute some road projects including Oke Oso-Itoikin dualisation Project in the Epe axis, Okokomaiko-Seme Road Project in Badagry axis and Ikorodu-Agbowa-Itoikin-Ijebu Ode Road Project in Ikorodu axis, just as he disclosed that the Phase II of the 114 Local Government Roads project as well as the construction of the Fourth Mainland Bridge would also kick off in 2017.

On the revenue expected from federal allocation, the governor said a
conservative approach was taken owing to the falling oil prices, which
according to him, was about $41.98per barrel at the time of finalising
the budget.

He however expressed optimism that the state would get an increase in Federal allocation through the 13 percent derivation from Oil & Gas in 2017. “In view of our financing gap, we shall continue to sustain deficit financing in the short-to-medium term; enhance revenue growth throughout the year on several initiatives including automation and efficient revenue administration.

Giving a sectoral breakdown of the 2017 budget estimates, Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade, said the governor earmarked N205.85billion for General Public Services representing 25.32 percent of the budget, N36.43billion to Public Order and Safety, representing 4.48 percent, while Economic Affairs received a lion share of N295.84billion representing 36.39 percent.

In other sectors, Ashade told journalists at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa Secretariat that Environment got 56.31billion, representing 6.93 percent, Health got 57.29billion representing 7.05 percent, while Education got N92.4billion representing 11.37 percent of the budget.

The Commissioner said the Budget would be funded from a total revenue
estimate of N642.849billion while the balance of N170.150billion would
be funded through a N100bn Bond Issuance program and a combination of
internal and external loans.

On the N138.249b earmarked for road infrastructure, the fund will be used to complete the Abule-Egba overhead bridge, Ajah bridge, continued massive road rehabilitation in partnership with the Local Governments/Local Council Development Areas, Murtala Mohammed 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-Majoda in Epe and Pen Cinema flyovers, among others.

The N51.376bn budgeted for transportation has been earmarked for the Blue Rail Line, advancement of 10-Lane Lagos-Badagry Expressway, construction of jetties and terminals (especially at Epe and Marina with shoreline protection) and procurement of ferries to improve water transportation and encourage tourism.

“The government is also committed to the expansion of BRT Lanes in Lagos and we shall pay due attention to Oshodi – Abule Egba BRT Corridor. In the course of the 2017 Financial Year, we shall carry out fundamental reforms on all our modes of transportation – Roads, Water and the Walkways. In this wise, a Public Transport Infrastructure Bond will be issued in the course of the year,” Ashade said.

On housing, Ashade said the N50.290bn investment would allow government to focus on affordable housing units through rent-to-own schemes (Badagry, Lagoon View Topo-Idale and Imota), while the total sum of N15.291bn out of the allocation is committed to completion of on-going housing estates (Sangotedo, Odo Nasa Agowa, Ikorodu Ibeshe). On health, N57.290bn earmarked is for the continuous

upgrading/renovation of health facilities and completion of on-going healthcare infrastructure, including MCCs, upgrading / renovation of primary healthcare centres, completion / equipping of Drug Quality Control Laboratory (DQCL), prevention of blindness / special health projects, construction of specialist hospital, construction of Medical Park, among others.

On education, the N92.4bn earmarked has been set aside for continued rehabilitation/ upgrading of public school buildings/facilities, continued provision of furniture for secondary schools, construction of new schools, schools improvement plan for secondary schools, provision of equipment for science laboratories, among others.

In the area of Science and Technology, Ashade said the sum of N11.006bn had been proposed for strategic information management, building and upgrade of IT infrastructure statewide, e-GIS land automation, single billing system and ease of payment for taxes, levies and other revenue items, as this would include Smart City project targeted at deploying technology to enhance security in the state and will also enhance our revenue generating efforts.

In the budget, the sum of N11.098bn has been proposed for spending in the area of governance, which Ashade said N1.250bn out of the amount would be spent on various capacity building programmes through the Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions to expose public servants to both local and international trainings in order to equip them for their role in actualizing the Lagos State Development Plan 2012-2025.

The commissioner explained further that the sum of N3.8bn had been set aside for the 7.5% government share to pension contribution and N7.15bn for Pension Redemption Bond Fund-shortfall. On women affairs, Ashade explained that N2.193bn had been proposed for various initiatives, such as upkeep and maintenance of skill acquisition centres, special poverty alleviation intervention programme for women, construction/maintenance of skill acquisition centres and other poverty alleviation related projects at Isheri, Ibeshe, Eredo, among others.

The commissioner said the sum of N6.177bn has been proposed under
Commerce for the on-going development of Lekki Free Zone, Industrial
Park development, development of enterprise zones, Badagry Deep Sea
Port, Eko Atlantic project and other areas.

However, the budget proposed a total of N9.457bn has been earmarked for the development of four mini stadia, upgrading of Teslim Balogun Stadium hostel, construction of 50 community youth recreation centres across the state and provision of sporting facilities in schools and Local Governments across the State. N18.181bn has also been proposed for advancement of Adiyan waterworks (phase II) and rehabilitation of mini waterworks all over the State and the improvement of water pipeline and reticulation.

The tourism sector, with the sum of N20.247bn will provide for the development of heritage centre for leadership (Lugard House), Centre for Yoruba Culture & History (Lagos House), J.K Randle Centre, transformation of the Onikan Museum, establishment of Museum for Art and Culture in Ikeja, development of tourism hubs in Lagos-West and Lagos-East and the construction of 5 Cultural Theatres in Alimosho, Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu and Ikeja.

More so, the N4.795bn earmarked for Agriculture and Food Security will cater for accelerated food expansion programme focused on rice production, animal husbandry and root crops as well as collaborate with other States in the Federation in the area of food production. Receiving the budget, Speaker of the House, Rt Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, commended the governor for keeping faith with the 2016 budget in the area of implementation, adding that Lagos has witnessed a quantum leap in the last one year.

Obasa, while assuring the governor that members of the House would give the 2017 fiscal document due diligence for the benefit of Lagosians, called on the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to furnish the House with all the necessary documents to enable it fast-track the budget approval process.

The Lagos Speaker also seized the occasion to call on the Senate to reconsider the Special Status Bill for Lagos State, saying there was no better time to accord the State such recognition.

With the Year 2017 fast approaching, there is a sense of optimism in the air among Lagosians that as the state gets set to roll out the drums to celebrate its 50 years of existence, Governor Ambode would yet again wield his magic wand and unravel the ‘Golden Jubilee Budget’to consolidate on the modest achievements and propel the State to enviable heights.
––Niyi Anibaba is a public affairs analyst