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Since 2007, Lagos State government has maintained a practice of presenting a succeeding year’s budget before the end of the current one. This practice was adjudged to be in tune with the state’s status as the fifth biggest economy in Africa and the commercial hub of West Africa.
Things seem to be different this year. Governor Ambode seems not to be ready to present the last budget of his administration to Lagos State House of Assembly (LAHA) for their approval. This is worrying as businesses and service providers in the state will have to plan under unclear circumstances for 2019.
The situation may not be different for investors whose major investment destination in Nigeria is Lagos.
Many sources close to the government have identified the poor relationship between the executive and the legislature as the cause of this delay. Many of the recent pronouncements of the state legislative arm have shown this might be true.
This has made the executive to buy time in presenting his spending plan for 2019. To sum the situation up, the economic progress of the state is being threatened on a platter of the political game and fight for power.
A leading newspaper in Nigeria also quoted a legislative source who attested to this fact. And this was the same reason was cited by immediate past Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources of the state, Mr Wale Oluwo, for his resignation from both the government and the party.
According to Oluwo, “The indifference of the APC to the continued use of an arm of government by a powerful group within the party, to intimidate critical institutions of democracy in the state, undermines the doctrine of separation of powers, creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and impairs government’s ability to implement policies and programmes that will benefit the majority of the people.”
If the situation is not addressed, major projects currently on-going in the state will be affected. The halt in the project would bring untold hardship to residents of the state who are already put in a bad situation by the construction of the project. A sign of this could be attested to by commuters along the Ipaja-Ikeja axis of the state.
More so, Lagos accounts for over 95% of annual Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) to Nigeria. This huge FDI is due to positive sentiments of foreign investors to the level of governance of the state. A drawback from this pattern of good governance would affect both the state and Nigeria as a whole.
Welfare level of residents of the state will be affected by this delay. The multiplier effect of government spending will be postponed and funds for critical projects will not be disbursed on time. Industrial activity will be reduced and might lead to partial unemployment of some workers in the state. This will drag the economy into a state of inertia and economic decline.
The purchasing power of households will be affected and causing a decline in consumption level in the state. This delay is feed into the economic cycle of the state which will lead to a low standard of living and increasing absolute poverty level in the state.
Looking at these scenarios, It is better for Governor Ambode to ensure a quick work perfection of 2019 budget for presentation to the legislative arm. Stakeholders in the state are also implored to assert needed pressure to get this done as soon as possible.
Playing politics is for the good of all, and when it fails to achieve this then it doesn’t worth playing at all.