GOVERNOR/ASSEMBLY FACE-OFF: How Tinubu Pressured Fashola To Sign Appropriation Bill

When Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, Governor of Lagos State put pen to paper to append his signature to elevate the Lagos State appropriation bill to the State appropriation act 2009, it was as a result of a parched work on tempers and what ought not to be in governance as canvassed by the Governor on one hand and the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly on the other hand.

As reported in last week’s edition of Fortune and Class Weekly, the Lagos State Governor had shunned the appropriation bill signing ceremony. Though he had provided no official reason than the explanation of his Special Adviser Legislative and Political Matters Mr. AbdulLateef AbdulHakeem to the seated audience that the Governor attention was needed somewhere else beyond the Government House venue of the signing ceremony, it later emerged that the Governor had misgiving over a certain imputation into the budget he submitted to the State Assembly especially with the addition of the proviso that the State Assembly be given its budgetary allocation every beginning of the month as a matter of priority and that it (Assembly) would only be accountable to itself. The Assembly was reported to have imputed this proviso on the strength of a self accounting bill passed by the first Assembly of the State and signed into law by the then Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Fortune&Class crosschecks at the State’s Assembly complex confirmed that though the bill was signed into law by the Tinubu its imple-mentation was put in abeyance throughout Tinubu’s tenure on account of the dominance of the Assembly membership by Tinubu’s acolytes.

Probes in the Alausa seat of Lagos State Governance asserted that it is this self accounting law and some other minor inputs that roused Fashola, Tinubu’s successor to dare the State Assembly, which has an absolute majority membership of the Governor’s Action Congress. Political insiders however, opined that the Governor indeed attempted to dare the Assembly at his own risk:

“I think it is the urge to take on the Assembly on a principled position that made the Governor to dare the Assembly the way he did penultimate Friday. It is obvious that the loyalty of the Assembly members is first and foremost to Asiwaju Tinubu, I real don’t think the Governor has a voice of his own in the Assembly to dare to take on the Assembly on his own.” An Alausa insider told Fortune and Class.

As it turned out, it was at the Bourdillon residence of Asiwaju Tinubu that the tension that had arisen from the Governor’s refusal to sign the appropriation bill was doused:

“I understand that the Speaker who was also ready to flex his muscle reported the Governor’s conduct at the aborted signing ceremony to Asiwaju with a threat to take on the Governor. Asiwaju called the Speaker and the Governor to a meeting at his Bourdillon residence, Oba Akiolu of Lagos was also present with the Deputy Governor, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele and the Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Muis Banire.

“The Governor was compelled to accept the appropriation bill as passed by the State’s Assembly and was persuaded of the need to preserve the outward poise of unity and harmony between the executive and legislative arms of government in the State. We don’t know yet if the Governor would treat the self accounting input of the Assembly the way Asiwaju treated it, I guess we would have to wait till next month when the first tranche of allocations are signed out.” The source added.

Perhaps, what has become more worrisome for Governor Fashola according to a source close to the State’s Executive Council is what the source described as the distraction caused the Governor by those members of the Governor’s cabinet that have become direct reporters to his predecessor in office, Asiwaju Tinubu:

“Of course it is no longer news that Asiwaju selected majority members of the State’s cabinet without recourse to Fashola, so naturally, their loyalty is heavily skewed towards Asiwaju, but I don’t think that is enough reason for some members of the cabinet to be acting as official moles to Asiwaju. We’ve heard of one or two of these cabinet members always excusing themselves during cabinet meetings to go to the toilet only to use the opportunity to phone Asiwaju and give him an update on what they were discussing at the meeting. Governor Fashola had cause at a time to reprimand these Commissioners to be focused at the task they were appointed for than acting as news carrier.” The source said.