Worried by perceived violation of the state’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) Act, the Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday summoned the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Wale Oluwo, among others.
Also summoned are the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem; General Manager, Lagos State Electricity Board and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.
They are to appear before an ad-hoc committee of the House in seven days.
The resolution followed a motion moved by Gbolahan Yishawu, the Chairman, House Ad hoc Committee on Budget and Economic Planning under Matters of Urgent Public Importance.
Mr Yishawu had informed the House of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Contract on street lights signed by the Lagos State Government with a UK company, which he read about in Punch newspaper dated March 6.
According to him, the government had carried out the exercise without recourse to the Assembly.
Mr Yishawu said: “I read from Punch Newspaper of March 6 that our government signed an agreement, MoU (Memorandum of Understanding, contract with a company in UK called Low Emission Designed.
“This is with respect to supply, installation and maintenance of 10, 000 street lights over 300 kilometres in our dear state.
“This I believe is unknown to this House of Assembly because
agreements are signed with the process which is known to the law that governs the procedures for signing of agreements.
“Also, unknown to this Assembly is where the money will come from.
“With the 2018 budget, the appropriation for anything in respect to street lights was moved to the special expenditure account and we are still expecting the appropriate ministry to come over and explain in detail what the money is meant for,” he said.
The lawmaker said there was the need to avoid giving room for rumours and speculations.
“We read that the sum of money is N2.52 billion. There is no clear cut information on exactly what this is all about.
“This is very fearful because I remember last week we talked about Visionscape’s contract and agreement.
“I am sure in that case money is being spent,, and if you check our constitution, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria section 120, sub-section 123 says that all funds that should be spent in the state should be appropriated for by the House of Assembly.
“This House resolves to call on the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Attorney-General of the state and General Manager, Lagos State, Electricity Board to come and explain to the House what is happening with respect to street lights in Lagos State.’’
Reacting, Adedayo Famakinwa, (APC-Ajeromi Ifelodun I), described the situation as worrisome.
He said that the executive arm decided to embark on a contract not known to the House and not complying with the PPP Act of the state.
“I think this act should be totally condemned by each and every one of us. We are in democracy where all arms of government have roles to play.
“Probably, the executive arm of government needs a little bit of tutorial in ensure keeping to rules and regulations,’’ he said.
Rotimi Olowo (APC-Somolu I) added:“If the House is in the know, we will be in the better position to defend the state.”
According to him, the project is not bad, as light is needed in Lagos for economic and security reasons.
He, however, said the commissioner needed to come forward to provide the lawmakers with information.
Some other lawmakers who took turns react to the matter said that the House should have first hand information on such matters.
The assemblymen, who noted that the issue bothers on the state resources, said that the executive could not be working without the understanding of the parliament.
Tunde Braimoh, Chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy and Security, who thanked Mr Yishawu for bringing the news to the knowledge of the House, however, called for caution in working with what was read on the pages of newspapers.
Mr Braimoh said: “The rules of the House state very clearly that when matters like this are raised on the basis of newspaper report, the newspaper report must be produced.
“Also, there is a big difference between the words ‘contract’ and MoU’.
“If there is an MoU, it is not a contract, it is an invitation to treat; it cannot qualify because there has not been offer acceptance and considerations.
“So, if the executive has embarked on having an MoU, that cannot totally equate to a contract.
“However, we should seek clarifications on this matter from the commissioner.
“I want to call for restraint in making hasty comments on this matter until all secrecy is properly explicated.”
In his ruling, Mudashiru Obasa, the Speaker of the House, said that such project could not have been considered to have the House approval.
He said this was because the parliament in 2018 budget had set aside the fund in the special expenditure account until the executive had recourse to the House.
“We should know, so that when our constituents engage us, we would have something to say.
“It has become necessary to emphasise that any MoU, or contractual agreement that has been entered into without the support of the House is not binding until due process has been followed.
“It is better to clear this so that we won’t have issues over what the
executive is doing.
“Whatever agreement — we have always been in support and will continue — the law has to be respected.
“Our position is that such must be brought to the House for the approval of the House,’’ he said.
After a voice vote by the Speaker, the House set up a five-man ad-hoc committee to attend to the summoned public officers.
The committee has Moshood Oshun, Chairman, Public Accounts (State) as its chairman.
Other members are: Jude Idimogu (APC-Oshodi-Isolo II), Rasheed Makinde (APC-Ifako-Ijaiye II), Lanre Ogunyemi (APC-Ojo II) and Mr Famakinwa.
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