By Mufutau Egberongbe
Since May 2015 when Governor Akinwunmi Ambode took over the mantle of leadership in Lagos, the state, for sure, has never witnessed a better last year. It is the end of 2018 and the state marches towards a new year. The governor knows this and has continued to maintain his passion to leave Lagos far better than how he met it.
Silent, less talking and ever smiling, he broke a financial record never heard in the state since its creation. The governor got to the House of Assembly, read out a short and very concise budget speech that held everyone breathing anxiously.
The governor knows how to suspend people till the end. He has done this with the many projects his administration has embarked upon. He waits to blow the trumpet when the result becomes positive. This was what he did on the floor of the chamber till he finally revealed the estimate. The budget of progress for 2018 is N1.046 trillion. Unprecedented.
Again, for a governor who knows why he is in office as well as what his state needs, the budget was further broken into a recurrent of N347 billion and a capital expenditure of N699 billion.
You may want to know that the governor scored another milestone in the management of the state resources. In the last one year, the state did not borrow a dime. It only maintained what was borrowed in the past. What this translates to is that the resources for all the projects embarked upon by Ambode were part of what accrued to the state in terms of internally generated revenue and allocation from the centre (which is oftentimes nothing much to be excited about). How many state can match this feat?
It is better to understand it this way: In the proposed budget, the estimated total revenue for 2018 stands at N897.423 billion of which N720.123 billion will be generated internally, while a total of N148.699 billion will be sourced through deficit financing within the medium term expenditure framework. So you see that with a round peg in a round hole, Lagos remains one of the only states that can survive in the country without allocations from the federal government.
I am not sure any resident of Lagos needs to ask what the government did in 2017 in the area of infrastructure. Every area of the state has been touched. Is it deep down Aboru in Alimosho or upscale Lekki? A friend told me recently he visited Epe and almost forgot the primary reason he was in the once sleepy town. “Epe is becoming a small London. You need to see the level of development going on there,” he said.
For anyone who has not visited Lagos state in the last four years, I bet you that person would find it very difficult recognising Berger area today. To now think that these projects were executed without any borrowing speaks a lot about the person in charge of affairs in the state and those who he has surrounded himself with.
Enter the Lagos state House of Assembly. This arm of government headed by Mudashiru Obasa has ensured, in the last two years, that the governor succeeds. At the inception of office, Obasa told some journalists that the paramount responsibility of the Assembly under his watch is ensuring the best environment for the governor to excel. Through these efforts, the House has been able to plug major holes and assisted, even though indirectly, to boost the state’s internally generated revenue.
Obasa further reiterated his resolve to move at the speed required for the development of the state with Governor Ambode, when the latter presented the 2018 budget recently. This is why the budget would be passed shortly. It is currently bring examined by a committee of competent hands.
The governor continues to have the assurances of the House that his zeal, dreams and mission for the state will be achieved.
The governor and Obasa do not doubt how the budget of N1.046 trillion could be achieved. The speaker has confirmed the state has the capacity just like Ambode shares same belief. The two officials have come a long way, starting from the lowest level of governance being the local government. The speaker was a councillor in 1999, while the governor started his career at the local government level too before moving to the state.
The duo had been part of the modern Lagos policies charted by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Hence they have both been students of the same school of thought – Tinubuism. Again, Obasa was the chairman in charge of the committee on budget of the Assembly before becoming its speaker. On the other hand, Ambode has been and remains a finance guru leading the state to success on many fronts even when he was yet to become the governor. The budget will surely be achieved.
*Egberongbe is the Special Adviser on Political and Legislative Matters to the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.