REMARKS BY THE SPEAKER OF LAGOS STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, RT. HON. MUDASHIRU OBASA AFTER 2016 BUDGET PRESENTATION BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MR. AKINWUMI AMBODE, GOVERNOR, LAGOS STATE, ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2015
Before anything at all, we give praise and adoration to the almighty Allah, the giver and taker of life, the One who reverses the irreversible; for giving us the opportunity to witness this significant budget presentation.
I am delighted to welcome you to this 8th Assembly, His Excellency Mr Akinwumi Ambode, the Governor of Lagos State and his amiable wife; His Excellency Alhaji Lateeef Kayode Jakande; Former Speakers of our House here present; distinguished members of the National Assembly; Members of the State Executive Council; the Head of Service and through him to all members of the body of Permanent Secretaries here present; Spouses of Members of Lagos State House of Assembly; Chairman and Members of LAHASCOM; our Traditional Rulers; Obas and Chiefs; our Spiritual Leaders; our highly esteemed royal fathers here present; Captains of Industry; Leaders of our pace-setting party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Elders; members of Diplomatic Communities; Community Leaders, market men and women, our energetic youths, all Lagosians and members of the 4th Estate of the Realm. I thank you all.
Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of my colleagues and our highly dedicated staff, it gives me a great pleasure to heartily welcome you all to this occasion of the formal presentation of the year 2016 budget to your House of Assembly, Nigeria’s leading legislative House, by His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Governor of Lagos State.
As you all know, our state of Lagos, the Centre of Excellence, has continued to be seen both within and outside our country as the very place where good governance is the norm, which readily explains why our state is home to all Nigerians, having attained the enviable status of a mega city.
It is for instance on the record today that even leading members of opposition parties in our country readily attest to the fact that our dear State remains the positive response point when good governance is being discussed.
This assertion was even recently confirmed by the Civil Resource Development Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), an independent, non-governmental and not-for-profit organisation, whose launching of the 2015 National Budget Transparency Survey declared Lagos State as the third most transparent state in Nigeria in the area of budget performance and transparency. The reason, however, is not far to seek.
Here in Lagos State, the three tiers of government: the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary have always been striving to put our people first in all that we do. This House of Assembly comprises industrious, brilliant and diligent men and women who are making a difference in their various constituencies.
Despite their distinct status, these government institutions have continued to regularly collaborate to deliver the dividend of democracy and the very best for our dear state and the people.
It is however pertinent to note that the very cordial relationship existing between this Legislative House and the Executive has not stopped us from performing our constitutionally assigned roles of exercising control over the state’s purse.
This has obviously resulted in the First Class position that our dear state has attained in our country today, which makes Lagos the symbol of good governance.
You will all agree with me that the responsiveness and readiness of this honourable House to pass pro-people and pro-development legislations is rightly on the course in giving Mr. Governor the much needed enabling environment to perform creditably well to the admiration of our people. This indeed is the confirmation that ‘‘behind every successful man there is a woman;’’ which in this case can be rewritten as: behind every performing Governor there is a pro-active, pro-people and pro-development House of Assembly.
The recent commissioning and handing over of patrol vehicles, motorcycles, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), gunboats and helicopters to the Nigerian Police and the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), to combat crime in the state among other things is a pointer to this affirmation.
Without much ado, the commissioning, is believed, would attract more investors to the state, since a crime free state is expected to put the minds of the investors at rest as far as safety is concerned.
Your Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, I commend you for being astute, courageous, insightful, forthright, thorough, and determined. You have really displayed, during your few months in office, that you are capable to maintain a track record of resourceful consistency, which has been obvious for the last sixteen and a half years; you are truly a unique breed and first among equals.
Mr. Governor, on behalf of other Honourable members, myself and the staff, I appreciate you for always giving us all the necessary supports as most of our resolutions are treated with immediate positive response. We appreciate the promptness with which you execute our resolutions particularly the issue of the dissolution of the Judicial Service Commission, the recent purchase of security equipment and more importantly the proposed construction of a FLYOVER at PEN CINEMA in AGEGE. The immediate embedment of these projects in the reordering of 2015 budget is a testimony of your desire to give the people necessary infrastructure which will engender socio-economic growth.
Let me therefore assure all Lagosians that the Lagos State House of Assembly shall continue to promote the best practices in the governance of our dear state. You can rest assured that all Hon. Members of this Assembly shall continue to put you – our people – first in all that we do.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have all listened with rapt attention to how the wealth of our state will be utilized for our common good in year 2016; the responsibility is now on the members of this Honourable House to do the needful; and I assure you that we will meticulously perform our constitutional duty.
However, permit me to remind this gathering that the matter of budget presentation is essential. Beyond its constitutional stipulation, it requires the backing of law to make it implementable and executable; without which it becomes an offence punishable under law.
The above claim is stipulated in Section 121 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended in 2011, which states that, “The Governor shall cause to be prepared and laid before the House of Assembly at any time before the commencement of each financial year estimates of the revenues and expenditure of the State for the next following financial year”.
This, no doubt, is necessary to obtain Legislative consent or approval for the amount of money to be spent on specific items in the coming financial year.
The 2016 Appropriation Bill is significant in that it is the first budget proposal to be presented by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode; it is also the first I will be receiving as Speaker of this House, the foremost House of Assembly in Nigeria. For this singular reason, we are all hopeful and expectant that this coming year will witness more of democracy dividends for betterment of Lagos and Lagosians.
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, as the head of an institution that is closest to the grassroots; I must confess, some of our people still live in abject poverty.
In treating this budget, we will not forget that we are trustees for the people. A lot has indeed been done in the area of job creation and economic empowerment of Lagosians. But there is a dire need to create more opportunities for our people; more jobs will definitely lead to greater economic growth.
Be that as it may, we will like to call the attention of our governor to the situation of traffic jam in the state, which I believe the governor is so much aware of and has taken steps in managing since his resumption in office. Though this may not be our own doing, it is an inherited circumstance, we must continue to proffer lasting solutions to it. It is our thought that addressing the issue of traffic in this state will further simplify life for commuters and engender economic growth.
We need not be reminded that easy movement of people and goods is essential and important to the economy of a state. Therefore, we must continue to forge ahead.
Apparently, the establishment of BRT lane, LAGBUS was to boost economy of the state. BRT is a transport option, which relies on the use of dedicated ‘interference’ free segregated lanes to guarantee fast and reliable bus travel. It is a high performance public transport bus service which aims to combine bus lanes with high-quality bus stations.
The system also aims at encouraging motorists to park their vehicles at home and make use of public transport with the hope to free our roads from traffic congestion, which will reduce cost of transportation, pollution and wasted manpower on the road. Our focus, of course, is to make BRT/LAGBUS a convenient mode of transportation for the haves and have-nots as it is being witnessed most especially in the UK. It is one of the several options available for tackling the huge public transport predicaments of Lagos.
We believe that successful means of transportation not only benefits the people but also increases the state revenue, enhances employment opportunity, improves health system as well as helps standard of living.
Nevertheless, Mr. Governor, a lot still needs to be done in making sure all these projections are achieved. In line with this, we of the Lagos State House of Assembly are ready all the time to support and cooperate with you in the interest of our state to ensure infrastructural and economic development.
Good people of Lagos State, you will recall that some weeks ago, town hall meetings were organised by the House in all the forty constituencies in the state for all its lawmakers not only to update their constituents on their various achievements since June when the eighth assembly commenced, but also to feel their pulse, seek their suggestions and know their opinions on how they are being governed. The town hall meetings indeed gave us an opportunity to listen to the challenges of our constituents and make same available to the executive arm of government as areas of focus for the 2016 budget. This was one of our promises during electioneering and you can rest assured that all other promises will be addressed to the letter, while the issue raised during this exercise will be promptly addressed in the new fiscal year. The report of the town hall meeting will be presented to His Excellency before the closure of this ceremony.
However, I will like to congratulate our pace-setting party, APC, on the success recorded in the last general election. Indeed, it was a battle deservedly won on all fronts. The landslide victories recorded nationwide have proved to all and sundry that our great party has come to stay. Meanwhile, our manifestoes still remain the same, and the focus is still targeted at making life better for all. As such, we assure the good people of Lagos State that this current government will work assiduously in conjunction with the party by executing its manifestoes in ensuring that dividends of democracy are evenly and judiciously distributed.
Notwithstanding, dear colleagues, the recent victories achieved should not be taken for granted. As the saying goes: “to whom much is given, much is expected”. Our people expect much from us in this “change” era in return for the trust they already reposed in us. As such, I charge you to keep the vision aflame; we have set a standard, and it must be sustained. The wellbeing of Lagosians should always be our priority while the long-term prosperity of this state must remain our focus.
Besides, we should not forget that public office is a privilege. As lawmakers, our duties are well spelt out; it is our responsibility to represent those who do not have voices of their own and recognize the interests of others; we must always consider the consequences of our actions and also ensure that our work is geared towards bringing about positive CHANGE.
Let me particularly thank our party leadership starting from our Governor Emeritus, Asiwaju of Nigeria, His Excellency, ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU, a discerning, financially ingenious, reliable and able leader who kept our state going even when the Federal Government deliberately and illegally starved our treasury then. His brilliance also has eventually made it possible for us to have a Federal Government that shares the same progressive mind with us in this side of the country.
In this same vein, I also congratulate members of the G16, all party leaders and most especially our party chairman, Chief Henry Oladele Ajomale whose penchant for winning hard-fought battles such as battle of “capture”, battle of “do-or-die”, and the last one which was battle of dollars orchestrated by various PDP administrations at the federal level, now gives him a new name of “Mr. Victor”.
However, in appreciating past deeds, posterity will not forgive me if I fail to mention the first Civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, the man who set the pace for all the governors that have emerged since he first governed Lagos. Indisputably, his foundation then has been what others have been building on, which gives us today an enviable Lagos as well as the light that glorifies Nigeria.
As I conclude, I implore us to give every support needed for this administration both at the state and federal levels. Our party preached “change” during electioneering. Nevertheless, to bring about this change, we have our roles to play.
In the words of President Barack Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Let’s make our diversity the strength of our federation.
As for me, I will never sit on the fence when the battle is to ensure that good governance works in the genuine interest of the people.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I will not relent in my agitation for quality education; because in this lies all the ingredients of developmental strides known to man.
Let me therefore at this juncture assure Mr. Governor and all our people that my colleagues and I shall promptly and diligently commence work on the year 2016 budget just presented to this Honourable House and will ensure that Lagos State occupies the enviable position that has always been reserved for us. We will work diligently for the early passage of the budget so that developmental work can start in earnest in the state.
Simply put, our intention is to make this budget a special New Year gift to the people of this great state.
I wish you all merry Christmas and happy new Year in advance.
Long live Nigeria. Long live our dear state of Lagos. Long live the Lagos State House of Assembly. Itesiwaju ilu Eko, lo je wa logun.
I thank you all for listening. It is time now to make a formal presentation of the report of the town hall meeting to His Excellency.
Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa
Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly
December 17, 2015