Tuesday, December 12, 2017
The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has presented the 2108 budget to the State House of Assembly. The budget tagged “ Budget of Progress and Development” proposed N1.046Trillion to be spent for the completion of on-going projects, commencement of new ones and social infrastructural facilities including health, education, transportation, security and welfare schemes to mention a few. The breakdown shows that N699.082Billion would be spent on capital project and N347.039Billion on recurrent expenditure representing 67% and 33% respectively as well as 28.67% increase over 2017 budget. A number of critical narratives are imperative on this budget proposal.
Indeed, it is not praise singing to note and applaud the fact that in the entire country, it only in Lagos that there is a semblance of governance in the country. There are various developmental projects and investment embarked upon by Mr. Ambode, the general improvement in the road network, bridge construction like the Abule Egba flyoversis worthy of commendation. The State plan to explore and refine oil is a huge and golden investment in the future of the State and its citizens. Yet, the 2018 budget demonstrates that the State is not sleeping on its oars. The budget is not just its highest in the history of the State and second only to that of Cross Rivers State Government in the country. However, while most States and even the Federal Government are enmeshed in budget financed by debt, Lagos is sustaining. The State does not also have any notorious case of owing workers or retirees’ pensions.
As much as we identify with the pivot focus of the budget, we believe that a well blessed State like Lagos should also spend more of its budget on social infrastructures. The allocation of less than 12% to education is not acceptable; Lagos should be able to execute the UNESCO recommendation of 26% of its annual budget. The same goes on provision for health, housing and pipe-borne water. It is apposite to equally insist that a State desirous of taking on developmental flight, there two critical projects of the State which this administration is in the best position to execute. The Independent Power Project and Subway Transport System which has been denied the over populated State on the political intrigues can be initiated now. With the State and the Federal Government controlled by the same Party, there should be conscious policy initiatives to implement these projects. In the same vein, the clamour that Lagos should be recognized as a Federal Capital Status should be a major projection in every policy of the State, showing in the Budget what the State loses or can gain with this status.
We are aware that in advanced industrial democratic world, budget is not a ritual of just the Executives and the Legislature but a festival of the entire society. The inputs of social stakeholders, business, labour, informal sectorand civil societies are rarely factor into processes of budget passage in the country and when done, it is conducted shoddily. Lagos should be a leading example in this direction. This is even more important because under democratic governance, the general populace are supposed to owned the budget.
The question of peoples ownership and transparent passage of budget is even more critical for a society like ours where the eternal vigilance of the populace is necessary for budget monitoring and execution. This is in addition to the fact that it serves as veritable tool to block leakages and wastages in the system. Corruption is best resisted when the citizens are aware the project, the cost and time of execution in their various areas. In the same way, citizens’ support can be mobilized for the projects in their constituencies.
It is our fervent hope that Lagos State would take the leap forward to ensure the citizens of the State owned this budget. We call on the State House of Assembly to request that the Executive furnish it of the list of projects contemplated for the Year 2018 and publish same for the entire society to be aware.
Executive Chairman, CACOL