– says palliatives to residents should be more impactful
– Urges more focus on youth engagement through sports, employment
– House to closely monitor implementation of budget
The 2024 budget proposal of N2.246 trillion presented by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday faces the realities of daunting economic challenges and must be tailored towards improving the lives of residents, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, has said.
Speaking at the Assembly chamber immediately after the presentation of the budget by the Governor, Dr. Obasa said the government must begin to look at better ways to alleviate poverty beyond giving out packaged foodstuff.
A breakdown of the budget shows a capital expenditure of N1.224 trillion and a recurrent expenditure of N1.02 trillion.
While calling for the employment of more people for the effective implementation of government policies, Obasa further urged effective youth engagement through sports and related activities.
“It is highly important for us to apply the right indices towards ensuring a performing and functioning budget that would lift our people out of poverty and reposition the state towards infrastructural growth and renewal.
“Palliatives should move from just giving people garri, rice, beans or even money. We should have a direction that is focused, impactful and deeply backed up by effective policy implementations.
“For instance, in the name of palliative care, let there be provision of drugs at all public hospitals in the state at subsidised rates. At the same time, focus should be on a downward review of treatment costs in these hospitals.
“Also, provision of subsidised school materials should be encouraged. In like manner, raw food merchants who bring food items from the hinterlands should be put into consideration. The Government can help subsidise their transportation system too. This will in turn lead to a crash in the cost of food prices and make them affordable,” he said.
Read his full remarks below:
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, esteemed colleagues, I give praise to the Almighty Allah who in His infinite mercy kept us all till this day to witness another budget presentation to this House.
2. I would like to extend appreciation to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his diligent efforts in presenting the year 2024 budget themed Budget of Renewal with total estimates of over 2 trillion Naira for the prosperous state of Lagos. This budget indicates his commitment to the growth and development of our dear state.
3. It is worth noting that this budget is the first one for Mr. Governor since the renewal of his mandate earlier this year. This translates to new expectations, new requests and new aspirations from the people of Lagos.
4. Mr. Governor, it may interest you that this House has an obligation to the people and with the pursuit of its constitutional roles and duties, it has assiduously worked on your previous requests and has its findings especially on provision of palliatives, zero tolerance of potholes, completion of various projects, which include the Lekki- Epe Road, Phase VI and others stated in the requests.
5. Today, you have presented the Y2024 budget estimates of over 2 Trillion Naira to Lagosians. The euphoria that accompanied past budget presentations is gone as this budget would face the realities of daunting economic challenges.
6. According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics, the national inflation rate is now 27.3 percent. The country is also faced with multifaceted issues of rising prices of goods and services, high forex and other societal problems, which require urgent attention and drastic solutions.
7. In this regard, it is highly important for us to apply the right indices towards ensuring a performing and functioning budget that would lift our people out of poverty and reposition the state towards infrastructural growth and renewal. The Lagos State House of Assembly is committed to this and would use all constitutional instruments to achieve it.
8. Mr. Governor, while we talk of giving palliatives to the people to ameliorate the present economic situation, I believe it is time for a paradigm shift. We must now move from intangible things to concrete things. Palliatives should move from just giving people garri, rice, beans or even money. We should have a direction that is focused, impactful and deeply backed up by effective policy implementations.
9. For instance, in the name of palliative care, let there be provision of drugs at all public hospitals in the state at subsidised rates. At the same time, focus should be on a downward review of treatment costs in these hospitals.
10. Also, provision of subsidised school materials should be encouraged. In like manner, raw food merchants who bring food items from the hinterlands should be put into consideration. The Government can help subsidise their transportation system too. This will in turn lead to a crash in the cost of food prices and make them affordable.
11. While we appreciate the increment in salary, it is expedient to note that it has always led to inflation. In that case, it has never been helpful. Right from time immemorial, we have had cases of salary being increased. But it has usually been counterproductive as it has never really solved the economic challenges of the masses. In providing more viable alternatives, the State Government should engage labour as well as knowledgeable consultants in poverty alleviation and economics so that a well-defined programme can be initiated to improve the standard of living.
12. Concerning this need to improve living standards, I make bold to say here that sports stands out as an avenue to create jobs. It is an industry that is huge enough to accommodate thousands of people. Aside the fact that it is a major strategy for youth engagement, it has its economic chain that cuts across different vendors such as water, food and all sorts of sellers around where any sports activity takes place. Even adverts of various sorts speak to the number of people that get engaged directly or indirectly in the name of sports be it football, boxing, table tennis, athletics, and the likes. Government should pay good attention to this.
13. May I use this avenue too to reiterate my stand on the need to improve the enforcement and implementation of State polices, which is highly necessary. It is on record that most people flout the laws of the land with impunity. We hear of people’s total disregard to traffic laws every now and then. There is the need for us as a State to employ more hands. If Kaduna, for instance, can employ up to 7000 security personnel, there is nothing stopping us in Lagos from engaging up to 10,000 for enforcement and implementation considering the population of our State. Though it is necessary for our officials to put human faces in their activities, imagine hearing of LASTMA officials being lynched by touts or miscreants on the road. It has reached a stage where officials have to leave the road sometimes for their safety. This requires immediate intervention.
14. Distinguished guests, it is evident enough that the people of Lagos have high expectations and dreams for a better future, and it is our duty as their Representatives to effectively address their needs and aspirations. We understand the pressing challenges our residents face in the critical sectors such as infrastructural development, healthcare, education, job and wealth creation and others. Therefore, we hold the responsibility of meticulously scrutinising this budget to ensure that it adequately meets the demands and desires of our constituents. We shall equip ourselves with the principles of Transparency, Accountability, Probity, and Fairness.
15. To my colleagues, I urge you to be steadfast, courageous and determined as you perform your constitutional duties. Remember you represent the interest of your various constituencies. We must ensure that developments cut across all the 40 constituencies. The legislature Is empowered and protected by the constitution. So, as legislators, and to all the standing Committee Chairmen and their members, be bold enough to ask questions, and seek clarifications.
16. May I reiterate that we shall monitor the performance, execution, and compliance of the provision of this budget. We shall hold State officials that would drive the lofty initiatives of Mr. Governor, as stated in this budget, accountable in line with their ministerial responsibilities. We are partners in progress, but we will not compromise on our duties of Oversight. Hence, Commissioners, Permanent Secretaries, Directors and Heads of Parastatals are advised to up their game, and this process starts with the budget defence. We will do a painstaking and thorough scrutiny.
17. We, as lawmakers, and by the virtue of constitutional power reposed in the legislature, are poised to make the Lagos of our dream a reality. We are determined to put smiles on the faces of our people. No doubt, times are harder than before. The only opportunity we have is to take our people more seriously while they also consciously perform their civic obligations by paying their taxes regularly.
18. Notwithstanding, we pledge our support to Mr. Governor and will join hands with him to achieve that greatness for our dear State. We will work tirelessly to bring about positive changes and progress in every nook and cranny of the State, together with Mr. Governor and his team.
19. At this juncture, I wish to congratulate, yet again, Mr. President, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR and the Vice President, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, our Party: the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party leaders both nationally and in the States and all our party flag bearers in the last general elections for the party’s success and victories. The nationwide victory of our party at the last general elections is an attestation that the people believe in us; and we can’t afford to let them down.
20. However, it is worthy of mentioning that six months after inauguration, our people in power should start looking at the sides of party members who worked tirelessly for the party’s successes for further encouragement. Good arrangements should be made in this regard to appreciate their efforts.
21. I will like to appeal to Nigerians to be patient with this administration. Our President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR is aware of the economic challenges that bedevil us as a nation. His team is working on turning around the economic situation of the country. Let us all support them in our prayers. I believe that there is light at end of the tunnel for us as a nation.
22. As I bring my speech to a close, I wish to thank my colleagues for their unwavering support in this 10th Assembly.
23. Once again, I commend Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his vision and dedication to the growth and development of our State. I call upon all Lagosians to support us in this collective quest for a better Lagos. Together, let us build a future that we can all be proud of. Thank you and God bless.
Rt Hon Dr Mudashiru Obasa
Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly