Akinwunmi Ambode,of Lagos state,on Monday presented the Year 2018 Budget proposal of N1.046trillion to the House of Assembly, with a pledge that his administration will make every effort to complete all ongoing projects as well as initiate new ones to consolidate on the development recorded in the last 30 months. Governor Ambode, who christened the 2018 Budget as “Budget of Progress and Development”, said it would be used to consolidate on the achievements recorded in infrastructure, education, transportation/traffic management, security and health sectors. He said the Budget would also focus on mandatory capacity building for civil servants, all teachers in public secondary/primary schools, officers in the health service sector and women & youth empowerment alongside Medium and Small/Micro Size Entrepreneurs (MSMSE’s). Outlining the key components of the budget, Governor Ambode said capital expenditure would gulp N699.082billion while N347.039billion would be dedicated to recurrent expenditure, representing a Capital/Recurrent ratio of 67 percent to 33 percent and a 28.67 percent increase over Y2017 budget. The Governor said that despite the modest achievements recorded in 2017, there was still much work ahead, assuring that Government would not relent in its efforts to give Lagosians the best by way of continuous and efficient service delivery. “Lagos has always been a trailblazer and we must consolidate on the economic gains made so far by initiating people-friendly programmes and projects that will attract more economic improvement in Y2018. “It is our resolve in Y2018 to strive and complete all on-going projects in order to meet their specified completion period and embark on new strategic projects. We intend to improve on our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the face of the dwindling accruable revenue allocation from the Federal Government, sustain our vision on wealth creation and poverty alleviation,” Governor Ambode said. The Governor also listed key projects captured in the 2018 Budget to include the Agege Pen Cinema flyover; alternative routes through Oke-Ira in Eti-Osa to Epe-Lekki Expressway; the 8km regional road to serve as alternative route to connect Victoria Garden City (VGC) with Freedom Road in Lekki Phase I; completion of the on-going reconstruction of Oshodi International Airport Road into a 10-lane road and the BRT Lane from Oshodi to Abule-Egba. On infrastructural renewal, Governor Ambode said his administration remains committed to sustaining the tempo of continuous construction, rehabilitation, upgrading and maintenance of network of roads across the State including those within the boundary areas of Lagos and Ogun States and that the bus reform initiative would be consolidated with the introduction of high and medium capacity buses, construction and completion of bus depots at Oshodi, Anthony, Yaba and many others. He also said the movement of Mile 12 market to Imota had reached an advanced stage and would be completed in good time to pave way for relocation next year, while the 181 Local Government Roads will be commenced as contractors will be mobilized immediately, as well as continuous gridlock resolution, junction improvement, construction of more laybys and advancement of signalization that will improve traffic congestion especially along the Lekki-Epe corridor. In the area of job creation, Governor Ambode said the Government would construct an ICT Focus Incubator Centre in Yaba, commence the development of Imota and Igbonla Light Industrial Park as well as the provision of additional small scale industrial estate at Shala, while the State Employment Trust Fund will disburse more funds to Lagosians to support business and stimulate the economy. Governor Ambode also assured that his administration will vigorously pursue its planned direct intervention in the power value chain towards generating 3,000MW Embedded Power Programme within a three-year plan to achieving 24/7 power supply for the State, stressing that the challenge of inadequate power supply must be resolved for the economy to perform optimally. He said within the 2018 fiscal year, the Government would continue to rekindle its efforts in the area of Tourism, Sports, Arts and Culture as well as embark on some major projects that would ensure that the State emerges as the hub for tourism, sports and entertainment. He listed some of the projects to include completion of the five new Art Theatres; establish a Heritage Centre at the former Federal Presidential State House recently handed over to the State Government; build a world class museum between the former Presidential Lodge and the State House, Marina; fast-track construction of the proposed four new stadia in Igbogbo, Epe, Badagry and Ajeromi Ifelodun (Ajegunle) and complete the on-going Epe and Badagry Marina projects. On Housing, Governor Ambode said that all on-going projects especially those at Gbagada, Igbogbo, Iponri, Igando, Omole Phase I, Sangotedo and Ajara-Badagry would be completed for delivery under the Rent-to-Own policy. While acknowledging the cooperation and support received from Lagosians, members of the Business Community, Professional Bodies, Non-governmental Organizations and the State Civil Servants in years past, the Governor noted that the modest achievements by his administration within a short period couldn’t have been possible without residents who have been paying their taxes willingly and faithfully. Besides, Governor Ambode urged residents to embrace the Public Utility Levy as the Cleaner Lagos Initiative aimed at ensuring a cleaner and healthier environment would commence in 2018. Governor Ambode also commended members of the House of Assembly for their selfless service and support, saying that they have proven themselves to be dynamic and robust lawmakers and partners in progress. Giving a sectoral breakdown at a press briefing in Alausa, Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade said General Public Services got N171,623bn, representing 16.41 percent; Public Order and Safety, N46.612bn, representing 4.46; Economic Affairs, N473,866bn, 45.30 percent; Environmental Protection, N54,582bn, representing 5.22percent while Housing and Community Amenities got N59,904bn, representing 5.73 percent. Ashade also told journalists that Health sector got N92.676billion, representing 8.86percent; Recreation, Culture and Religion got N12.511billion, representing 1.20 percent; Education got N126.302billion representing 12.07percent, while Social Protection got N8.042billion representing 0.77percent. Receiving the budget, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon Mudashiru Obasa commended Governor Ambode for faithfully executing the year 2017 budget, saying the positive impact of such had been felt across the State with various projects such as the Abule Egba, Ajah and Pen Cinema Flyovers, among other numerous projects in various sectors. Obasa, who specifically lauded the fact that the 2018 budget estimate had provision for continuous infrastructural development in various sectors such as transport, security, environment, housing, health and capacity building for all public servants including teachers and health workers, however assured that the House would scrutinize it and ensure that the budget delivered on its promises to stimulate the economy of the State by focusing on infrastructure development, delivering inclusive growth and prioritizing the welfare of all Lagosians. The event was attended by dignitaries in the State including members of the State Executive Council led by the Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Adebule, former Speakers of the Lagos State House of Assembly, members of the National Assembly from Lagos State, former Deputy Governors of the State, party chieftains, traditional rulers, religious leaders, among others.
Tambuwal, Mark, others collected N17b bribe to pass 2015 Budget – Okonjo-Iweala
Former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwella, has alleged that former President of the Senate, David Mark; former Speaker of the House of Representatives and now Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal; and other members of National Assembly collected a N17 billion bribe before the 2015 Budget was passed.
Okonjo-Iweala, who served under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, made the shocking revelation known in her new book: “Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines.”
Okonjo-Iwela said this on page 80 of the book as Twitted and pictured by the spokesman of the President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, Festus Keyamo (SAN).
The former Minister said the bribe money, which was added into the budget was N20 billion initially, but was reduced to N17 billion.
She added that the N17 billion was padded into budget as election expenses.
She said: “By the time we presented budget on December 16, 2014, the oil prices has further fallen down to $58 per barrel. We were prepared and knew we had to trigger the additional expenditure and revenue measure in 2015 to make the budget work. This would be tough, given that we had entered election year.
“Indeed, legislators initially refused to accept pay cuts to their regular N150 billion budget, despite dwindling revenues. But, eventually agreed to 13 percent cut against backdrop of Ministers accepting voluntary 50 percent to their basic salaries.
“In a tough session with the National Assembly ad-hoc committee on budget (made up chairs of Finance committee and Appropriation Committee of both chambers and other leaders of National Assembly), an additional N20 billion was reintroduced as election expenses for the National Assembly members.
“We insisted that the amount should be dropped because it nullified the 13 percent cut to their statutory budget, but managed N20 billion figure by only N3 billion to N17. This become the price to have 2015 budget passed.”
But it was not clear as at the time of filling this report whether all members of the National Assembly benefited from the N17 billion budget padding.
Birnin-Gwari: Again 42 passengers kidnapped
In a daring and consistent operation along Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna Highway, armed bandits have kidnapped 42 passengers en-route to Kano within 24 hours.
A leader of National Union of Road Transport Workers in Birnin-Gwari, who pleaded anonymity, told PRNigeria that the incidents occurred tetween evening of Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
The union leader said: “At least 42 passengers have been kidnapped along Birnin-Gwari and Kaduna Highway between yesterday evening and this morning.
“This Wednesday morning around 8am, the armed bandit intercepted three vehicles conveying 21 people from Birnin-Gwari, Kuriga and Kagara and abducted them into the bush.
“Meanwhile, yesterday evening around 5.15pm, another 21 people inside commercial VW golf (saloon) cars were also kidnapped.
“Some of the drivers of the vehicles who escaped on sighting the kidnappers narrated their ordeal to us.
“Majority of the passengers, including women and children, were travelling to Kano when the kidnappings occurred.”
PRNigeria has gathered that relevant security agencies have been informed of the development and action is being taking to rescue the victims and apprehend the kidnappers.
Recall that PRNigeria had reported activities of armed bandits operating along Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna Highway, where they recently kidnapped 107 passengers, which prompted the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, to charge troops to end the wanton killings and destruction of property in the axis in three weeks.
Concerned with the incessant kidnapping and killing, the National Union of Road Transport Workers in the area cautioned its members from plying the route pending deployment of troop and other security agencies.
An official of the NURTW told PRNigeria that most of the kidnapped victims were passengers travelling between the Northern and Southern parts of the country.
Lagos to subsidize staff housing for civil servants, says HoS
The Lagos State Head of Service, Folashade Adesoye has said that steps are currently being taken to ensure that the Rent-To-Own Scheme of the State Government eases the accommodation problem confronting employees in the Civil Service.
Adesoye disclosed this on Tuesday at the ongoing annual Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the third anniversary of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration held at Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa
She stated that efforts are in top gear to review the Staff Quarters Manual to further strengthen the basis of the relationship between the Government and occupiers of the Staff Quarters.
Adesoye gave assurance that her office will not rest on its oars until affordable housing units are provided for members of staff, just as she expressed optimism that the Rent-To-Own Scheme would create a veritable platform for Public Servants to benefit maximally from this mortgage scheme at a subsidised rate.
Speaking further, the HOS stated that the budgetary provision for Housing Loan for civil servants in the State has increased from N50 Million N100, saying that the development lays credence to the State government’s commitment to staff welfare.
“Within the period under review, 280 Public Servants from various MDAs benefitted from a total sum of N95,033,564.14 as housing loan,” she said.
The HOS stated that the government has a total housing stock of 1,121 Housing units spread across the State as staff quarters, stating that the units have served as an avenue through which the government ameliorates accommodation issues for its workforce.
She disclosed that the State government through the Office of Transformation, Creativity and Innovation, OTCI, has completed the design of an advocacy programme aimed at enlightening Public Servants on the need for a change from a “Fixed” to a “Growth” Mindset, stressing that governance in Lagos State has been characterised by promises fulfilled, anchored through a vibrant and purposeful Public Service.
“I take pride in stating that our Public Servants are competent professionals who are committed to the tenets of Service delivery. We boast of loyal, dedicated, and effective Officials across the broad spectrum of our employees from the Management Staff to the Cleaners, Drivers and Office Attendants. Let me, therefore, use this forum to celebrate the diligent Public Servants of Lagos State for their readiness to embrace change as we consolidate on our efforts to becoming a Smart City.” Adesoye stated.