Nigeria: Lawmaker Clears the Air On Alleged Budget Padding Controversy

Following the revelation by a former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) in Lagos State, Dr. Ade Dosunmu, that there was ‘financial recklessness’ in the state 2022 budget, a member representing Eti Osa constituency 2 in the state House of Assembly, Hon. Gbolahan Olusegun Yishawu, has cleared the air on the 2022 budget, stating that there were projects not captured in 2022 budget, one of such was the rail line project, and that there’s anything as budget padding.

Yishawu, who disclosed this yesterday during the maiden edition of the Town Hall Meetings with the theme: ‘Closing the Gap Between The Governed and The Government’, stated that the rail line project was being financed through loan by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Debt Management Office (DMO) told the state government that if the project was not a budgetary item, they would not approve the loan, “so, N153 billion was to be put into the budget.”

He noted that the state was innovative enough to partner some private sector investors in an arrangement known as contractor financing to construct the Lekki-Epe road among other roads for them not in bits, but to complete the road projects in the state.

The lawmaker hinted that the banks would definitely not fund the contractor if the item was not a budgetary item because obviously they would look at the budget before they participate in it, “so that needed to also come into the budget.”

According to him, “It was said that the executive submitted N1.3 trillion budget, but when it was passed into law, the approved 2022 budget was N1.758 trillion which is made up of N1.167 trillion capital expenditure and N591.281billion recurrent expenditure, resulting in a capital to recurrent ratio of 66:34, strongly in favour of capital expenditure.

“Then, again, the state government went to the bond market strategically, but a bit late. So the amount that we subscribed was good, but they could not consume the entire fund within the last quarter of the year. If it is not in the budget, they will not be able to spend it-it will just be cash lying there. So we needed to include that in the budget so that the state could have access to the money they have taken as loan, so that they would be able to spend it.

“Other issues such as the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) funds that were supposed to come in, most of those issues happened in the last quarter of the year, and if you notice, all these funds are capital expenditures, so I don’t see any hanky-panky in what has happened. It is a normal process of budget expenditure and ensuring the executive is able to have access to the appropriate funds which it said it needed to spend. We don’t create any new projects; it is the same project that government provided.”

He added: “The ultimate solution to our economic, social and security challenges in Nigeria is to practice true federalism, where power is devolved to states. Items such as policing, mines and minerals, railways, electricity among others currently in the exclusive legislative list should be devolved to the states to increase their capacity and effective delivery of these services for the prosperity of the people. While I know some of these items are currently in the ongoing amendment of the CFRN 1999 as amended, some are conspicuously missing.”

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