A new phase of contention has opened between the outgoing government of Ayo Fayose and incoming governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, over a fresh N10 billion supplementary budget submitted to the House of Assembly by the former with four weeks left for his administration.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that Mr Fayose is sending the supplementary budget to the house in form of a budget review by simply increasing the earlier passed budget of N98.61 billion to N108.54 billion.
The reviewed budget dated August 30, has since been forwarded to the House of Assembly which had embarked on recess at the conclusion of the July 14 governorship election and had been scheduled to return to duty in October, few days to the inauguration of the new administration.
The All Progressives Congress in Ekiti State had alleged that the “revised” budget was only sent to the House of Assembly on September 10, but was backdated to August 30 to suggest that the bill had been at the house before now.
The actual additional figures on the appropriation bill totalled N9.93 billion.
It was gathered that although the house is still on recess, the Speaker of the House, Kola Oluwawole, has reached out to some members of the Appropriation Committee and work has commenced on the bill without recourse to the parliamentary procedure of taking the bill through the various readings.
The APC had also alleged that the bill was to be passed subtly and illegally before the alarm was raised over the matter.
In a statement on Wednesday, the APC’s Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, questioned the rationale behind Mr Fayose’s request for the approval of N10 billion extra budget. less than one month to the expiration of his tenure.
He said the action of the governor would be at the expense of the welfare of the pensioners and workers.
“Fayose and his cronies are recklessly looting the state treasury and they are smiling home with billions of Naira at the expense of Ekiti tax payers,” said Mr Olatunbosun.
But Mr Fayose has reacted through his media aide, Lere Olayinka, saying the APC and the Fayemi group lacked the understanding of how governance is run and should wait until they are sworn in before they can assume the roles they are trying to play.
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on the phone on Wednesday, Mr Olayinka said there was no question of propriety in dispute, as his principal remains the governor until the expiration of his tenure and would continue to carry out the functions of his office.
“Are they saying that the governor has no right to send a supplementary budget to the House of Assembly?” queried Mr Olayinka. “Is it not his right of the governor forward a supplementary budget to the house?”
He noted that it was also inappropriate to raise issues about the procedures of the passage of bills at the House of Assembly, as only the members of the house could determine their own procedures.
“It is the House that can say that the governor submitted the supplementary budget outside its rules and could reject or accept it,” said Mr Olayinka. “They make the rules that govern the procedures of the house and they are the ones who will tell us whether the bill had been properly submitted or not.”
Justifying the submission of the reviewed budget, he said the government was still spending money on ongoing projects that needed to reach “certain levels of completion before the expiration of the tenure of the present administration.”
He also argued that Mr Fayemi would be spending money as soon as he assumes office as governor and would not need to get a budget passed within the period remaining in the year before he starts spending money.
“A budget is not the money, budget is an estimate and that a supplementary budget has been sent to the house of assembly does not mean that the money has been released and is being spent,” Mr Olayinka argued.
“The governor is still the governor until his tenure ends and he will continue to carry out the functions of his office. Government is a continuum and the business of government will not be left undone until the next government comes into office.”
The House of Assembly Chairman on Information, Samuel Omotoso, told PREMIUM TIMES in his reaction, that the APC had “nothing doing” that is why it had so much time to read meanings into everything that is being done in the state.
According to him, there is no illegality in the process of considering the revised budget, saying that it was only carrying out its work in line with is legislative powers and privileges.
“Naturally the processing of budget is the exclusive jurisdiction of legislators, especially when it has to do with states, the state assembly takes over and looks at it, the same way the National Assembly look at the national budget,” Mr Omotoso said.
“We all live in this country and saw the president sent the supplementary budget of INEC to the National Assembly. They are on recess, and rather than waiting and keeping the work of the state in limbo, they sent it to the committee to look at it.
“Naturally the committee must look at it and invite the agencies involved and ask them to come and defend what they have put in the budget. That happened with INEC and we all saw it on national TV when the committee took them up.
“That is what is happening presently with the Ekiti supplementary budget.
“So, where they got their own information from that the house is trying to pass the budget illegally, we don’t understand. My advice to them is to just chill and be patient until they get to power. Maybe during their own time, and their own governor send a supplementary budget to the House of Assembly, they can throw it into the bin.
“We have the main budget and the supplementary budget. Why do we have the supplementary budget? We have supplementary budget because sometimes there are issues that come up that are not captured while the budget was processed at the beginning of the year.
“There may be new development that warrants the government to respond. When there was Lassa fever invasion of the state, a lot of money was spent that was not captured in the main budget, because Lassa fever was not here last year when we were passing the main budget.”