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Lagos state house of assembly and state covid-19 funds

By Dr Uche Diala



I have followed Media reports on the Lagos State House of Assembly plenary session held on Thursday, 7th May 2020, presided over by the Speaker, Rt Hon. Mudashiru Obasa where the House asked Governor Sanwo-Olu to introduce a co-chairman from the executive arm to represent the state’s COVID-19 Incident Commander before the parliament.

While I totally agree with the House that the Governor needs to diligently account for funds received from both the FG and private donors towards its COVID-19 pandemic control effort, I believe the government should be allowed to concentrate on the immediate task at hand and on using the funds to assist Lagosians who are at the frontline of the pandemic in the country. Especially, every day Lagosians who are suffering greatly both economically and psychologically.
The status and case of Lagos state in this pandemic can only be likened to that of New York in the United States of America.

The call on the floor of the House by the Lawmaker representing Mushin Constituency II, Hon. Olayiwola Abdul-Sobur, that “the donations and grants accrued to the state government should be domiciled in the Consolidated Revenue Funds and the Executive must be reminded that no money should be withdrawn from any public funds without the authorization of the House”, for me in all humility could be tenable in normal times but surely not in such emergency and abnormal times as we are in presently.

I have actually wondered why some states like Lagos cannot go out of their way for instance to seek for and procure massive quantities of COVID-19 Test Kits (irrespective of what the Federal government is doing) to start universal testing for the virus amongst their citizens, which is key to containing the virus and effective and safer re-opening? Such funds could be creatively useful in such.

Furthermore, it is not in doubt that every day Lagosians are suffering huge losses and hardships economically and otherwise. I sincerely think the House could better focus energy on formulating more creative and ingenious ways to use the Funds to assist them.

That in my humble view would be a more productive way to engage the Executive rather than the argument of whether the money should be placed in the consolidated revenue account. If I may say, those funds are not ‘normal’ revenues accruing to the state and my worry is that such monies when subjected to such level of politicking and governmental bureaucracy could end up not achieving the goals they were meant for which is to fight the disease and assist the people – which are my only interest here.

In my considered view, such funds should be domiciled in a special, emergency and dedicated account and the objectives, purposes and projects they are meant for clearly spelt out, of course with proper documentation and accountability at the appropriate time.

Let me state that such ‘squabbles’ between the Executive and the Legislature at any level are counterproductive to the current fight. The Executive should be reposed with a level of confidence and given a free hand to run these affairs under these dangerous and difficult times devoid of excessive politics. Of course while the Legislature carries out its constitutional oversight responsibility.

It is such power tussles that give some people the erroneous impression that the COVID-19 is merely a ploy by some states to make money out of the federal government and individuals which it is clearly not. We have a serious and real issue on our hands and the citizens must come first.

I hope someone listens.

@Dr Uche Diala

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