…As lawmakers weigh options
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Uncertainty currently pervades the Lagos House, Office of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and State House of Assembly Complex, Alausa, Ikeja, following move by lawmakers to impeach the governor over alleged infractions and due process regarding both the 2018 budgetary provisions and the 2019 Appropriation Bill which is yet to be approved.
The lawmakers had on Monday given the governor one week to appear before it to address the issues and respond appropriately or risk impeachment.
Citing the 1999 constitution, the lawmakers alleged that the governor, who was yet to lay the budget before the house for consideration, was already spending from the state funds, an action they described as an “aberration.”
The House of Assembly had lamented that the 2018 budget did not perform above 50 per cent after deliberating on the report of a special ad-hoc committee set up on budget performance in the state.
Vanguard had reported that there were unresolved issues between the lawmakers and Governor Ambode, which delayed the passage and signing into law of 2019 budget.
However, in spite of the threat, Ambode seemed unperturbed as he continued to keep mute over the development and barely 24 hours after the threat, Ambode led few executive members on inspections of some projects in Lekki area of the state.
At the plenary on Monday, 36 out of the 40 members of the Assembly, rolled out many reasons why the governor must appear before it or face the sledge hammer of impeachment.
It was gathered that in a move to save their faces after public outburst, the lawmakers, particularly the leadership had been involved in series of marathon emergency meetings in order to give the governor a soft landing at the end of the day without resorting to impeachment.
Many believed that the development which has elicited various reactions from the public, was the handiwork of “fifth columnists” bent on disgracing the governor out of office, even after his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, had denied him ticket for second term.
According to one of the public commentators, “the lawmakers could not have carried out the threat without the blessing of the leadership of the party in the state. This is like applying the sledge hammer to kill a fly. The governor has been disgracefully denied of a second term ticket, is that not enough for him to be left alone and be allowed to walk away? He has two months to go, after all.”
All efforts to speak with any of the APC executives in Lagos at press time were unsuccessful as they declined comment on the issue.
However, an official of APC who spoke with Vanguard on condition of anonymity blamed the governor for “grandstanding” instead of “playing ball” as a politician.
In a new twist, a group sympathetic to the governor, stormed the Assembly Complex last Wednesday to protest the impeachment plan by the lawmakers.
Lagos Liberation Movement, LLM, in a statement by the convener, comrade Mark Adebayo said, it viewed the latest move against Ambode as the “height of legislative rascality and abuse of office by the lawmakers.”
The group accused the Assembly of having deviated from its statutory responsibility of law making, and planning to hijack executive responsibilities. “It beats our imagination that Lagos State, that should play the leading role when it comes to democratic practices and respect for the rule of law would be disgracing itself before the nation and the international community with this kind of development, being embarked upon by the Obasa led House”, the group said.
While condemning the people’s representatives, LLM called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on National Leader of APC, BolaTinubu not to proceed with the impeachment plan as such would be self-destructive, saying it was important for the APC to sort out its internal conflicts without putting the whole state into crises.
“We will like to reiterate that Ambode is the governor of Lagos State and not the governor of the APC. If they have internal issues within their Party that should not be allowed to negatively affect the smooth running of government and make people suffer. The whole state cannot be reduced to the parochial shenanigans of a highly corrupted political family.
“The office of governor of Lagos State is beyond Ambode and as such any further humiliation, disrespect and embarrassment from any quarter will be utterly resisted by the people. Lagosians are unequivocal in their view that Ambode is a performing governor based on his style of governance and project execution, and as such, any further attack on him will be tantamount to attacking the people. And no one can win against the people,” Adebayo said.
Earlier, Tuesday, another statement was released by a group under the umbrella of The Legislative Probity and Accountability (LPA), through its Chairman, Olu Fajana, which asked the Assembly to account for the N28.8 billion it collected as running cost under Obasa’s leadership.
Meanwhile, some of the groups, have called on the Lagos House of Assembly to justify the expenditure of N350,000,000 it got from the State Government to host conference of speakers. The speaker requested for the money from the state government on June 22, 2018.
The groups also asked: “Is it true that the Lagos Assembly Speaker and six Assembly members got N51 million for a summit in Vienna, Austria on 18th and 22th September 2018 but did not attend.?
“Is it true that members get N2 million impress monthly and the House gets a monthly allocation of N650 million from the state government?
“Is it true that the House spends N30 million monthly to take care of the environment of the assembly? Can we know the exact details,?” they asked.
Another pressure is however coming from Mr. Segun Aka-Bashorun, former Vice Chairman, Kosofe Local Government Area, and an APC chieftain, when he expressed displeasure over the action of the Assembly.
He exonerated Ambode of any wrong doing, quoting Chapter 5, Part 2 Section 122 of the Constitution which stipulates that, “If the Appropriation Bill in respect of any financial year has not been passed into law by the beginning of the financial year, the Governor may authorise the withdrawal of moneys from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the government for a period not exceeding six months or until the coming into operation of the Law, whichever is the earlier: Provided that the withdrawal in respect of any such period shall not exceed the amount authorised to be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State under the provisions of the Appropriation Law passed by the House of Assembly for the corresponding period in the immediately preceding financial year, being an amount proportionate to the total amount so authorised for the immediately preceding financial year.”
Aka-Bashorun who said he has formed a movement against impunity in Lagos said he would resist every move of the Assembly to impeach the governor.
He however, challenged the Assembly, particularly, the Speaker to explain to the public how N800 million monthly running cost was spent.
The leadership of the Assembly has refused to respond to the allegations at press time.