By Elizabeth Chukwuma
For daring to pose as a threat to Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and national leader of All Progressive Congress, APC, regarded in political circles, as a godfather , the state Lawmakers appear not to have forgiven Akinwunmi Ambode, the immediate past governor.
They are determined to make life uncomfortable for him despite being frustrated in his first term in office to ensure that he did not fulfill his electioneering Campaign promises which is in line with the party manifesto.
Signs that the former governor would have problem with the lawmakers for daring Tinubu, their political mentor and sponsor, began , last August when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, dragged him to Court over alleged discovery of a huge inflow of about N10 billion from the state account into a First City Monument Bank, popular, FCMB, account on September 17, 2018.
Note that that the Mudashiru Obasa led House of Assembly may have known about some the Capital project transactions which was undertaken by the Administration but not approved by them that when they House passed the N873.532 billion 2019 budget , they refused to transfer it to him to sign into Law to forestall him from spending out of it. More so, they were said to have threatened him with impeachment to force him to soft pedal on his insistence on signing the budget which was prepared by his government into Law.
The Lawmakers , according to sources were said to foot dragging on the budget in order to give Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his successor and the godson of Tinubu, an opportunity of signing the budget into Law, when he resumes duty on May 29, 2019.
The worry of the lawmakers was that the former governor had a hidden agenda over the implementation of the N873.5 billion 2019 budget. This si evident going by the N21 billion 2019 extra budget which was said to have been prepared by the Administration and passed by the House. They may have had their way as Sanwo-Olu, the governor they have been were waiting for was said to have finally signed the N 873.5 billion into law , more than one month after it was passed into law during Ambode’s last year in office.
Many had had expected that after the House had denied the former governor of his Constitutional role of signing the state 2019 budget into Law , the party refusal to endorse him for a second term in office and the EFCC harassment, to give him a breather but that is not to be.
Barely three months after leaving the plum office, the Lagos Lawmakers who have never been happy with him over some of his capital expenditures, particular, the purchase of the 820 mass transit buses , estimated at about N45 billion, were said to have set up a Committee to investigate the transactions. Note that the former governor had bought the buses ,which are parked in undisclosed location for the state mass transit project.
The Value News learnt that the then Ambode government had proposed to spend N17 billion to purchase the mass transit busses which was turned down by the Obasa led House of Assembly in 2017. It was gathered that in the 2018 and 2019 budgets, the government also proposed to spend N24 billion and N7 billion on the purchase of the buses but it could not scale through the House, an indication that it was not approved.
Political watchers believe that the Tinubu boys in the House may have been angered that Ambode went ahead to import the 820 buses . A Sources informed The Magazine that until he left Office on May 29, 2019, 300 of the mass transit buses have been delivered by the oversea suppliers while 520 are still awaiting clearance at the sea port.
This may have informed why the Obasa led APC controlled House of Assembly, in what people regarded as bottled anger , to invite the former governor to appear before an ad-hoc Committee that was set up , to explain all that he knows about some of the financial transactions that took place his close watch.
Some of the special financial transactions, according to the Committee include, unauthorized discounting of Promissory Note, purchase of 820 buses without approval, Misappropriation of Special Expenditure funds, Improper Implementation of the Appropriation Law and non-adherence to the Financial Regulations of the state.
The lawmakers may have shown that they are all out to make a mockery of the former governor, who many believe is in the good book of Lagosians as being in the class of Raji Babatude Fashola, a former governor of the state and minister of Works and Housing regarded as a performer, by asking him to ‘’furnish the Committee with 15 Copies of all relevant documents relating to all the issues being investigated by the ad-hoc Committee, on or before Tuesday ,October 29, 2019.
Political watchers knew that the former governor would not not honour the invitation in first instance because of the issues involved which he considers laughable. They believe that the way and manner the Obasa led House of Assembly had handled the investigation may have given Ambode the ammunition to sub the Committee and dam the Consequence on the first invitation.
A source close to the Speaker informed the Magazine the House Speaker was not happy that the former governor could not honour an invitation of a legitimately set up ad-hoc Committee, describing it as an insult to the House. This may have informed why the House was determined to get at him by all means. In spite of the refusal of the former governor to appear before the Committee, he never stopped them from doing their work as mandated by the House.
Going by the Committee findings, the Ambode Administration had used the refund of the Paris Club to the state for the ‘’purchase of the 820 buses without the approval of the House. The Committee was said to said to have further uncovered in their investigation that that over N48 billion was spent on the purchase of the buses and additional N22 billion spent on import duties. The Committee may not have bothered to find out the Company contracted by the government to process the buses import document at the port and the cost of clearing.
The Committee may have suspected something fishy about the whole transactions when the state Accountant General disclosed that the purchase of the buses was based on the approval of the then governor but could not provide the vouchers to back up the payment of the buses.
It is not surprising why the Committee has threatened to arrest the former governor and four Commissioners who server under his government because of their alleged roles in the purchase of the buses, described as a big fraud. The former may not have wanted his family member to witness the humiliation he is going through since he left Office May as he was said to have relocated them abroad.
Whether Ambode, who had snubbed the House ad-hoc Committee at first invitation to would appear before it on this second invitation remain to be seen.