Senate Rejects Bill Seeking Special Grants For Lagos | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Senate Rejects Bill Seeking Special Grants For Lagos

Nigeria senate, JAMB
Posted: Oct 6, 2016 at 4:40 am   /   by   /   comments (0)



Rotimi Akinwumi


Abuja – A bill seeking special grants for the development of Lagos State openly divided senators on Wednesday leading to a rowdy session in the upper legislative chamber.

The bill sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central/APC) was eventually killed by lawmakers.

The bill titled ‘A Bill for an Act to make provisions for federal grants to Lagos State in recognition of its strategic socio-economic significance’ sought specifically to ensure the setting aside of one percent of the country’s annual revenue for Lagos State for developmental purposes.

In her lead debate, Tinubu submitted that the grants would be used in meeting the public infrastructural needs of Lagos State.

The proposal, according to the Bill, allows the grants payable to be determined by the president and commander-in-chief on the recommendation of the governor of Lagos State with the proviso that not less than 1 percent of the share of the revenue accruing to the Federal Government would be given to the state.

She explained that as the economic nerve centre of Nigeria, the grant would be used in improving rail infrastructure, decongest roads and promotion of conducive social economic environment for federal institutions as well as increase the state’s capacity to continue to play host to international events in the state.

The bill also seeks to establish a joint committee to host both the president and the governor of Lagos State on an annual basis.

“Lagos is of strategic, social economic significance as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria. Today, Lagos serves as the commercial capital of Nigeria.

“The strategic importance of Lagos State is inherent in several sectors of the economy”, Tinubu noted.

She said statistics indicated that six out of 10 international passengers arrived in Lagos while eight out of 10 departed from Lagos.

“Lagos is home to the major ports that served Nigeria. It accounts for over 90 percent of all maritime exports.

“The state delivers much of the funds and charges that go into the coffers of the Federal Government. It is incontrovertible that Lagos State generates much of Nigeria’s income outside its oil sector.

“According to FIRS report in 2008, 86.2 percent company income taxes were collected in Lagos, including 56.7 percent value added tax.

“As a city which caters for the welfare of residents and visitors, Lagos is placed under a huge strain that affects its infrastructure and has welfare implications for residents and transient citizens of other states in Nigeria.

“This grant will be utilised in meeting the public infrastructural need of Lagos State, including rail infrastructure to decongest the roads”, she added.

However, opposition to the bill was strong as lawmakers led by James Manager and Abdullahi Adamu stood on provisions of the constitution by citing Section 164 (1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) in kicking against the bill.

Both senators noted that the bill and its intendment was good but said their opposition was on the grounds that it ran against the letters of the constitution.

Opposition by Senator Phillip Aduda and Gershom Bassey from FCT and Cross River, respectively, was based on ethnic sentiment as both insisted that should Lagos get the special treatment sought then such should be extended to FCT and Calabar as well.

Attempts by Senator Adeola Olamilekan from Lagos West senatorial district to explain the importance of the bill to the lawmakers did not yield any positive result.

His argument that every tribe and race in Nigeria is represented in Lagos, and as such, that Lagos is a “mini-Nigeria” did not sway the lawmakers.

However, the plenary became rowdy after the Senate Chief Whip, Sola Adeyeye from Osun State, who spoke strongly in favour of the bill expressed the need that 13 percent of the total money realised from Value Added Tax (VAT) be given to Lagos State just the way oil producing states get 13 percent derivation from oil sales.

He, however, irked senators after he described the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as a “rotten pampered child” which had been enjoying too much attention even without contributing to the general purse.

“Until we have fiscal federalism, Lagos will not work, Calabar will not work, the FCT will not work. By the way, the FCT is a rotten pampered child”, he said.

He, however, retracted the words when the lawmakers raised their voices against him.

Despite his apologies for the comment, the bill was rejected after the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu put the question to voice vote three times and it was unanimously rejected.

It took the intervention of Ekweremadu who stood up from his seat calling for calm for more than five minutes before normalcy returned.

Other bills that passed first reading include National Archives Act (Amendment) Bill, Rights and Obligations under Tenancy Agreements (Regulations) for the Recovery of Premises in the Federal Capital Territory Bill, Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (Amendment) Bill, Animal Health and Husbandry Technologies Bill and Federal Capital Territory Water Board Bill.