Kazeem Ugbodaga & Eromosele Ebhomele
Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola has warned that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is treading the path of destruction in the manner it is handling the distribution of the Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, and the continuous registration exercise.
Fashola, speaking during the presentation of the 2015 budget to the State House of Assembly on Monday in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, said it was unfortunate that there was no cheery words to say about INEC that seemed to have surpassed itself in its inefficiency and disorganization.
“As far as their conduct in Lagos is concerned, I can only come to the conclusion that it is deliberate and calculated to undermine the right and the freedom to choose.
“Let me use this occasion to appeal once again to INEC to retreat from this path of destruction that it appears to have deliberately chosen. There is time to do so. There is every good reason to do so. Nothing will threaten this republic to its foundation as an attempt to deny the people the right to freely choose who leads them to the future,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, who supported the governor’s advice that only the right person should become his successor, said: “your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, as the head of an institution that is closest to the grassroots, I must confess, some of our people still live in abject poverty.
“In treating this budget, we will not forget that we are trustees for the people; a lot has been done in the area of job creation and economic empowerment of Lagosians, but there is a dire need to create more opportunities for our people; more jobs will lead to greater economic growth.”
Ikuforiji, who waxed religious while plenary lasted, prayed to be that qualified person that Governor Fashola wants as his successor.
The Speaker went further: “our dear Governor, we are highly expectant that this budget proposal will address some important issues like the completion of ongoing projects, debt reduction, affordable housing, pension allowance.
“Healthcare that is good enough to eliminate infant mortality, transportation, gender empowerment, sustainable alternative energy, science and technology, the impact of climate change. Food security, entrepreneurship and innovative high-wage job creation, improved security, uplifting the physically challenged, sports, poverty elimination and most importantly, education.
“When this 2015 Appropriation Bill eventually becomes law, we all must remain fiscally responsible; our economic action plan should be driven by strong, sound and consistent fiscal management. We must not be ignorant of the fact that Nigeria is experiencing a sharp fall in oil prices, a 29 per cent drop from June, which has triggered an OPEC emergency meeting; we should also not forget the unstable nature of the Naira with its attendant macro and micro economic shocks.
“Beyond our municipality, China’s economic growth has slowed, thereby affecting the quantity of oil being purchased from Nigeria; Europe’s economy has stalled, and is likely to experience deflation; the United States and Canada who used to be big buyers no longer need to buy our oil – which ordinarily should be a good opportunity to diversify our oil-based economy.
“Some may say this has always been the pattern of oil prices, but bear in mind, it creates economic instability and distorts actual budget performance, especially for economies tied to the movement of oil prices.”
According to Ikuforiji, “as legislatures, we recognise that some of these economic externalities greatly affect socio-economic growth and are sharp enough to influence budget re-prioritization; a good example is the Ebola scourge or other ‘Acts of God’.
“Mr. Governor, we commend your administration for the precision with which your officials handled the Ebola Virus Disease; you made an epidemic look like a routine containment; the performance of your team is a reminder of the fact that well-trained individuals become competent personnel; competent personnel build enduring institutions, enduring institutions become a leader’s legacy.”
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