The Lagos State House of Assembly has continued the probe of the purchase of 820 mass transit buses by the administration of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, with the former Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Olusegun Banjo, telling the lawmakers that his ministry was sidelined in the deal.
The buses were said to have been purchased for N48 billion.
Banjo stated this when he appeared before the adhoc committee of the Assembly set up to probe Ambode over the purchase of the buses.
The former governor was expected to appear before the committee last Tuesday but he did not show up. Also two of his commissioners, Akinyemi Ashade, Finance and Oladejo See, Special Duties, failed to appear. They however wrote to the committee that they were out of the country.
While testifying before the committee, Banjo said former Governor Ambode shunned the procurement tradition he met on the ground and did not carry his ministry along as regards the purchase of the mass transit buses.
Banjo said: “The way the ministry was structured (under Ambode), it did not allow us to function well.
“The N24bn did not come to my ministry. We didn’t have a running system. As a commissioner, I could not approve one naira. All the MDAs approached the governor directly.”
According to Banjo, Ambode’s administration “was not transparent,” adding that “a lot of things could be done without the knowledge of the commissioners.”
“I don’t know what happens to unbudgeted funds when it comes because the Ministry of Finance does not inform my ministry; we don’t have a running system,” Banjo said.
The state’s Accountant-General, Mrs Shukrat Umar, in response to questions on whether the budget for the purchase of the buses was approved by the State Executive Council, said: “The State Treasury Office acted on Exco’s approval. The buses were in line with Exco’s approval. I would not know whether the Paris Refund Club was discussed or not.”
Speaker of the Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, also revealed that the House would invite Ambode through a newspaper publication, adding that if he failed to show up, the Assembly would resort to issuing a warrant for his arrest
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