31st December, 2013
Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly, western Nigeria could not hide their confusion and disappointment on Monday evening when the House could not pass the 2014 as expected because the House Committee on Economic Planning and Budget handed to the House an incomplete report.
The bill was scheduled for passage by the House after the committee chairman, Mudashiru Obasa, last week laid the report of his committee containing the approved budget for the year, other explanations and details to the House in preparation for a presentation before the Committee of the Whole, in this case referred to as the Committee on Supply.
The lawmakers had all gathered for the day’s sitting on Monday and had resorted to the Committee on Supply when a member of the House, Suru Avoseh, raised an observation complaining that copies of the report were not available to the members.
On enquiry by Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Obasa informed the House that the report was not complete as 10 government ministries, departments and agencies refused to present some required documents to aid the preparation of the report and passage of the budget estimate.
His explanation jolted his colleagues many of whom felt disappointed as they had waited patiently for the late commencement of sitting with the hope that the budget would be passed.
Obasa listed the defaulting ministries, departments and agencies as the ministries of Housing, Works and Infrastructure, Transportation and Economic Planning and Budget.
Others are the Eko Secondary Project which has existed for four years but has never appeared before the House, the state Building Control Agency, the state Registration Agency, the Lagos Waste Management Agency, LAWMA, the Lottery Board and the Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project, LMDGP.
The committee chairman said the affected government ministries and agencies actually appeared before the House and were asked to present the documents, but that up till the sitting period, the committee had not received any of the documents. He further said he had laid the report hoping that before the presentation, the documents would get to the House.
He said the committee had written to the affected government institutions, yet there had been no favourable response.
An infuriated Speaker Ikuforiji questioned why Obasa did not inform the House earlier that the committee was not prepared adding that he had raised “our blood pressure up.”
Adefunmilayo Tejuosho representing Mushin Constituency 1 queried the committee for laying a report considered incomplete.
Sanai Agunbiade representing Ikorodu Constituency 1 complained that Obasa had misled the members into believing that House was set to pass the Appropriation bill.
Ipoola Omisore, who represents Ifako/Ijaiye Constituency 2 said it was actually the design of the House to pass the bill at the plenary session for the development of the state in 2014, but lamented that the effort of the House had been thwarted by the government ministries and agencies.
He urged the House to “frown” at the agencies for their unserious attitude as portrayed in their refusal to present the documents.
Speaker Ikuforiji, later disclosed that the House would have proceeded on recess after passing the bill but added that this was no longer possible as member must wait for the bill to be passed before embarking on such recess.
“If there are agencies delaying the passage of the budget, we can give some few days and ask the Clerk to write them to supply the documents within the next three days.
“Between now and Thursday, all the MDAs concerned must send the requested documents to the Budget Committee,” Ikuforiji said adding that the development was “annoying.”
While the Deputy Whip of the House, Rotimi Abiru and Tejuosho opposed the Thursday date for the submission of the documents arguing that the time was too short considering the holiday for Wednesday as a result of the New Year celebration, Omowunmi Olatunji-Edet, Mufutau Egberongbe, the Whip of the House, Abdulrazaq Balogun as well as Speaker Ikuforiji maintained that the date should not be changed.
According to Balogun, “some of these MDAs take this thing with levity. They don’t think it is a serious issue and they deliberately withhold some of these documents.”
The Speaker then mandated that the Clerk of the House, Segun Abiru, to write the affected government establishment asking them to submit the documents by close of work on Thursday.
Some lawmakers who spoke to P.M. NEWS over the incident lamented the rush with which the committee attempted to make the House pass the budget.
They also disclosed that the budget would not be passed until next week since the House does not sit on Friday and the committee must be given time to study the documents and review the report.