The Lagos State House of Assembly yesterday rejected the request of the state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, to formally present the 2019 appropriation bill valued at N852.317 billion.
Contrary to the position of the office of the Chief Press Secretary to the governor that the 2019 budget would be presented yesterday, the request was not listed as part of the agenda of the state House of Assembly for the day.
THISDAY findings revealed that Ambode had since last week contacted the state assembly that he was ready to present the 2019 budget, though it was not clear if the assembly agreed to the governor’s request to present the budget yesterday.
Based on the invitation to journalists for the budget presentation, the state house correspondents trooped to the state assembly for the exercise.
However, the correspondents were denied access to the legislative chambers, the venue of the budget presentation.
THISDAY observed that Ambode’s security aides including Chief Security Officer (CSO) were on ground at the state assembly, apparently awaiting the arrival of the governor, whose attempts to present the budget proposal since December 28, 2018 had met brick wall.
THISDAY also sighted the convoy of the Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, at the Assembly complex while the governor’s anti-bomb operatives were fully on ground for the exercise.
Despite high expectation that the budget would be presented yesterday, security operatives at the assembly denied the state house correspondents access to the legislative chamber after waiting for about 30 minutes or more for the presentation of the 2019 budget.
After about 30 minutes, a police officer, who introduced himself as officer-in-charge, asked the state house correspondents to leave the assembly complex, perhaps acting on the directive of the speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.
The police officer claimed that he received information from the speaker that the lawmakers would not take the governor’s budget presentation as earlier expected.
He said the speaker was having a private meeting with other lawmakers and would not want to be disturbed.
He, therefore, said the assembly would entertain budget presentation, thereby directing all journalists to leave the complex.
He said, “I know you are journalists and here for your job but the budget will not be presented today. The speaker and the lawmakers are having a private session and would not like to see people at the lobby”.
Ambode had been having frosty relationship with the lawmakers after he fell out with the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
There were reports of attempt to impeach Ambode, though the speaker denied it.
At a plenary in November 2018, however, Obasa said the governor would determine whether he would be impeached or not.
The speaker, however, denied the reports that the assembly was plotting to impeach the governor if he refused to fund the governorship and legislative elections from the state treasury.
Obasa noted that the reports of some social and traditional media platform on the impeachment plan “is not true. I received telephone calls from prominent citizens over the alleged impeachment plan against the governor. Honestly, we had no such plan”.
He lamented that the Solidarity Group of Nigeria (SGN) and factional Chairman of Lagos APC, Mr. Fouad Oki “have been alleging that we threatened the governor to open the state treasury for us and that we threatened to impeach him if he failed to do so.
“So, nobody can threaten us, if it happens, because we are representatives of the people. We do not need the wailers to guide us in performing our duties. It is not out of place for us to do our job,” he said.
The speaker had further noted that the lawmakers “are not embarking on any impeachment proceedings against Ambode now. If there will be impeachment proceedings, it will be from the governor. If there will not be any need for impeachment, it will be from him based on governor’s actions.”
He, also, observed that impeachment “is constitutional and procedural. All over the world, many speakers, senate presidents and presidents, among others have been impeached. So, nobody can threaten us if it happens because we are representatives of the people.”