Lagos NCP tackles Ambode on accountability
• APC lawmaker dismisses allegations
The Lagos State chapter of the National Conscience Party of Nigeria (NCP) has tasked the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode to disclose the financial status of the state to the public.
In an interaction with The Guardian, the Chairman of NCP, Mr. Fatai Ibuowo said it is imperative for the Ambode-led All Progressives Congress (APC) to be financially accountable to citizens instead of the secrecy surrounding the economic status of the government.
Ibuowo said the demand is coming at a time when citizens of Lagos are asking for a better deal from a government that has borrowed billions of naira with little to show for it.
He expressed worries that the state currently has the highest domestic debt among all the 36 states of the federation with the highest foreign debt as at December 31, 2016 based on official figures.
The NCP chairman said the official breakdown of the figures showed that Lagos topped the list of foreign indebted states with a total of $1.380 billion, saying, “NCP cannot but notice the growing agitation for financial accountability from Ambode. We are not surprised by this development and we are confident that more are bound to join this movement that we have always been part of from the beginning.”
He alleged that Ambode’s administration has deplored crude and corrupt determination to blackout the public on the details of its budget and financial transactions, which are supposedly public documents.
According to him, “The reason is not far from the fact that massive plundering is going on in Lagos State combined with a monstrously mounting debt. On October 4 2017, an online media, in a publication titled “In Amobode’s Lagos, citizens have no right to know government budget spending,” alleged that individuals and the media seeking for the details and breakdown of the Lagos 2017 budget were frustrated and denied access.”
Ibuowo added that the details of the N813 billion budget remain hidden from the public months after it was approved with just few weeks to the end of the year and the beginning of the 2018 budget process, saying, “There had never been an independent evaluation of the finances of Lagos over the past 18 years from the era of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) to Action Congress (AC); Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and APC.”
The NCP chairman also said despite the fact there are several construction sites and projects in Lagos, ‘there is no official master plan or direction or purpose and the cost of all these activities is not available anywhere to the public.
“It is very important that the public must know how much is been generated, how much loan the state is taking, how their money is being spent and the numerous deals being made in the name of the state. The reason why the details are kept secret is clear. The APC knows that the figures would alarm the public the way the figures of the immediate past governor’s spending alarmed the public.”
But a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, the legislative arm of the state government, which functions include monitoring of state finances, Hakeem Olusola Sokunle, picked holes in the allegations of the NCP chairman.
Sokunle a member of the ruling APC who represents Oshodi-Isolo Constituency 1, in a chat with The Guardian, dismissed the claim that the government is preventing people from accessing financial documents of the state.
He said the proceedings of the Assembly are transparent enough and “if such thing happened, we would have investigated and summoned the governor.”
Sokunle said the governor had already submitted the re-ordering of the 2017 budget to the Assembly and that the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa had forwarded same document to an ad-hoc committee to address.
According to him, “The manner money is spent is monitored by the House because it is part of our oversight function. There is no information on Lagos spending that the House cannot provide.”
He also countered the insinuation that Lagos legislators are mere puppets to the governor, saying, “Summoning is the easiest thing to do to lawmakers. There is also nothing difficult in also summoning the governor to the House to answer some questions if found wanting.”
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