By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
In his unwavering commitment to consolidate the recovery of the state’s economy and positively impact the lives of residents, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, recently presented a budget estimate of N1.388 trillion for 2022 to the Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA).
Tagged ‘Budget of Consolidation’, the budget, which saw an increase by N225 billion from the 2021 budget, is the biggest ever by any state.
Starting from Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu (1999-2007), to Babatunde Fashola (2007-2015), Akinwunmi Ambode (2015-2019) and now Sanwo-Olu, the state has had the good fortune of producing outstanding and impactful chief executive officers, compared to other states in the country.
Successive administrations, since the advent of democracy in 1999, have largely succeeded in restoring the glory of the state to its former state.
And within two decades, Lagos has gone from being a symbol of urban chaos, to a widely cited model of effective governance.
Aiming to beat the indelible records left behind by his predecessors, Governor Sanwo-Olu, apart from completing projects he inherited, also initiated ambitious reforms and projects of his own.
In the last two years, the state governor had articulated his vision through his T.H.E.M.E.S agenda, an acronym for his administration’s six strategic development agenda namely, Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism as well as Security and Governance.
Its impact has been felt in all the 57 local governments and 377 wards across the state.
Part of the agenda also includes the activation of a 30-year development plan (2021-2051) which replaced the previous 13-year growth plan developed in 2012.
In less than three years of assuming office, Sanwo-Olu has restored the dilapidated infrastructure, expanded public services, and law enforcement, receiving commendations from the citizens as well as winning several awards for his efforts.
Year after year, Sanwo-Olu’s administration has strived to transform Lagos to a prosperous state through the stages of budget process, namely formulation, approval, implementation and oversight.
For instance, the 2020 budget of N1.68 trillion, which was revised to N920.5 billion due to disruptions caused by the Covid19 pandemic, recorded total revenue performance of 93 per cent, total capital expenditure of 80 per cent and total recurrent expenditure at 86 per cent.
Available data suggests that the 2021 budget has reached a performance level of 90 per cent as of December 1, 2021.
Not one to be contented with little successes the state governor is not relenting in his efforts to leave behind unrivalled legacies.
Speaking during the presentation, Governor Sanwo-Olu had said that the 2022 budget proposal would allow the state government to consolidate on past achievements by completing ongoing projects, as well as tackling challenges faced by residents; challenges like insecurity and lack of access to good medicare.
“Year 2022 Budget is the next step on our journey to true and sustainable greatness in Lagos.
“The challenging environment requires that we focus our interventions on areas of greatest social impact and achieving the greatest good for the greatest number in the shortest possible time.
“It is in this light that we are presenting the Year 2022 Budget of Consolidation with a size of N1,388,285,459,990.51.
“This financial proposal is presented with a sense of duty and absolute commitment to the transformation of Lagos to a preferred global destination for residence, commerce, and investment.
“The budget projects to see a continuing but gradual recovery to growth in economic activity as the global economy cautiously recovers from the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.”
It comprises total revenue of N1,135,159,092,822.30, deficit financing of N253,126,367,168.21, recurrent expenditure of N564,934,331,886.41, made up of personnel cost, overhead, and debt services (41%) and capital expenditure of ₦823,351,128,104.10 (59%).
Further breakdown of the total revenue shows that while N898,891,092,822.30 will come from Internally Generated Revenue, N236,268,000,000.00 will come from the federation account.
The deficit balance of N253 billion, Governor Sanwo-Olu stated would be sourced from external and domestic loans, as well as bonds.
Major beneficiaries of the budget of consolidation include works, education, health and security sectors which received the largest chunk of the allocation.
According to the governor, N325 billion would be spent to deliver vital infrastructure projects in key sectors such as works and infrastructure, agriculture, energy and mineral resources, commerce and industry, waterfront infrastructure development, tourism, transportation, wealth creation and employment as well as the entertainment and creative industry to help grow the state’s economy.
Human capital development in the education and health sectors also got the attention of the administration in the 2022 budget, with the allocation of 21.24 per cent of the total expenditure.
The sum of N137.64 billion, representing 9.92% of the 2022 budget, is allocated for the funding of green investment in Environment, Social Protection, Housing and Community Amenities.
In the area of infrastructure, the state government is deploying huge attention to the rail transport system, with the governor promising that the state’s iconic rail mass transit projects would soon be ready for use.
“There has been significant progress on the Lagos Rail Mass Transit projects, which include both the 27-kilometre Blue line that will run from Okokomaiko to Marina, and the 32-kilometre Red line that will run from Agbado to Oyigbo, and eventually to Marina.
“These rails, when completed, will deliver a combined 32.5 million people every month on their respective routes, reducing travel time by over 250 per cent, increasing the productivity and quality of life of our people.
“The Red line will come with eight new modern train stations, 10 new overpasses and 13 pedestrian bridges. These ambitious projects are expected to be commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2022,” Sanwo-Olu assured.
If passed by the state lawmakers, the proposed budget will be the last full-year fiscal plan of the governor before the 2023 general elections.
Meanwhile, financial experts have lauded the proposed budget, saying it will boost the fortunes of the state if diligently executed.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BIC Consultancy, Dr Boniface Chizea, said it deserved commendation as it will go a long way in boosting the state’s economy.
“The fact that about 59 per cent of the budget goes to capital expenditure, while 41 per cent (N564bn) would be expended on recurrent expenditure at a period when even the Federal Government is doing about 30 per cent on capital expenses is an electrifying development.
“Once a state crosses the 50 per cent mark, it deserves commendation”, Chizea noted.
Chizea, an economist, said the effects would trickle down to the people as health and education got significant allocations in the budget.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Samuel Eguge, praised the allocation of over N823bn to infrastructure, education, security and agriculture.
Eguge said the budget would consolidate past efforts of the state government at eradicating poverty and infrastructure development.
The key areas of growth that will be focused on by the state government, Eguge stated, are works and infrastructure, waterfront infrastructure development, agriculture, transportation, energy and mineral resources, tourism, entertainment and creative industry, wealth creation and employment, as well as commerce and industry.
Speaking on the proposed budget, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa urged Sanwo-Olu to work more on policies to bring more dividends of democracy to the people of the state.
“Our policies must be channeled towards fighting poverty in our society and empowering our people, particularly those below the poverty line.
“Despite the numerous infrastructural developments going on in the state, the impact is not yet fully getting to all and sundry as it should be.
“It is a known fact that Lagos State has the highest foreign debt profile. Of course, this loan has been the secret behind most of the infrastructural developments we all see all over the state.
“Nevertheless, I will advise the executive to focus more on intense projects that will be geared towards alleviating poverty in our society with most of these loans”, the speaker advised.
“It is big, bold and audacious budget — the kind that Nigerians yearn for,” said an economist, Dr. Peju Fisher.
“Nigerians don’t expect much from the Federal Government. Just the right decisions to put the nation back on track. Like Lagos, Nigeria must start from somewhere, but in a bold, strong way,” Fisher admonished.