Lagos Lawmakers Grumble Over Deduction From Intervention Fund
The deduction of N700 million from the Lagos state Local Government Intervention Fund for the purchase of 10 armoured personnel carriers by the state government is already causing ripples at the state House of Assembly Huhuonline.com can reveal. The Assembly had Monday at the a resumed sitting after a two week break approved the request of the state government for the purchase of 10 armoured personnel carriers to boost the security of the state in the wake of the frequent bombings and criminal activities going on around the country. The government sent the request through a letter signed by Bayo Sodade, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budgeting.
But Huhuonline.com has learnt that the grievances of the lawmakers erupted when the state government tried to play on the powers of the House. First, according to investigation, the state government actually wanted to outsmart the lawmakers in the procurement of the security vehicles just as it did in the purchase of a helicopter during Governor Babatunde Fashola's first term in office.
But after approving the purchase, it was realised that it would not be easy to source money for the purchase of the armoured personnel carriers. "I also learnt that the Security Trust Fund, STF, which was established by the state House of Assembly, refused to dance to the request owing to the fact that the money that comes to it is publicly generated and the books are audited annually by the Price Water House Coopers, a popular independent auditing firm in the country," a source told Huhuonline.com on phone.
This may be true as the former state Assembly Chairman on Information, Security and Strategy, Hon. Ipoola Omisore, informed his colleagues, while they were deliberating on the issue, that it had been difficult for him and his committee to go through the books of the STF. The comment surprised his colleagues who felt the committee had the power to investigate the finances of the Fund since it was established by an Act of the Assembly.
It was also learnt that the Ministry which had overlooked the authority of the House resorted to running back to the Assembly after it failed to get the approval of the state Tenders Board which sought to know where the fund for the purchase of the vehicles would be sourced.
While some of the lawmakers are aggrieved that there was no proper consultation and investigation by the lawmakers before the Speaker, Rt. Adeyemi Ikuforuji, forced his decision on the House, others feel the amount is too much for such project. When broken down, each of the armoured tanks would cost N70 million.
The legislators, who had vehemently rejected the proposal from the government before they were forced to accept it by the Speaker, are concerned that the about N20 billion in the Local Government Intervention Fund which is meant for constituency projects would further be depleted by the withdrawal of the N700 million.
Majority of the lawmakers had kicked against the move while arguing that the essence of the fund is for each member of the House to nominate projects in his constituency to be handled and executed.
One of them who spoke anonymously told Huhuonline.com that part of their grievances stem from the fact that the money had been left un-utilised for a long time. According to him, "Something like this happened in time past to the extent that the intervention fund was then spent on other things outside its relevance. At the end almost nothing was left to the members.
"Again, this time they have started the same thing. An amount that is exactly N19.3 billion is going to be further reduced for a project that has no direct bearing with it when there are still lots of challenges in infrastructure in the state. Look at the state of many roads in the state especially the link roads. This kind of money is meant for such projects and not for the purchase of armoured tanks that would not get good roads to move on."
He said since the amount has been approved, more deductions from the Fund should be expected in the course of the future. He also said that the members were not happy with the way the Speaker used his power to counter them as it would not augur well for him to begin on a dictatorial note.