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Senate in rowdy session over Lagos State special status bill

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Abuja   |   06 October 2016   |   4:25 am
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu

Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu

Lawmakers throw out proposed law
The Senate was thrown into a rowdy session yesterday following remarks on a bill which sought a special status for Lagos State.Even when the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu rose and shouted on top of his voice “Order! Order!! Order!!!” he was ignored.

He was shunned by the lawmakers who were angered by remarks by Olusola Adeyeye (APC, Osun Central) who had in his contribution to the debate declared that “the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is a rotten and over-pampered child.” Eventually, the majority of the lawmakers rejected the bill.

Trouble started when, while canvassing support for the bill, Adeyeye said that the FCT did not deserve the kind of privileges and support being accorded it by the Federal Government. This immediately attracted shouts of condemnation by many senators, including Phillips Aduda who represents the FCT in the Senate.

For over five minutes, Eķweremadu tried to calm down the lawmakers in the upper legislative chamber which had already been thrown into commotion. Oluremi Tinubu who sponsored the bill specifically asked the Senate to use its legislative powers to provide for “special federal grants for Lagos State in recognition of its strategic socio- economic significance.”

Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill, Tinubu said: “Today Lagos serves as the commercial capital of Nigeria and its major nerve centre. The strategic importance of Lagos State is inherent in several sectors of the economy. Available statistics indicate that six out of 10 international passengers arrive in Lagos while eight out of 10 depart from Lagos. This shows that Lagos is the window through which visitors travelling in and out of Nigeria leave the country.

“Lagos is home to the major ports that serve Nigeria. It accounts for over 90 per cent 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.”

Tinubu lamented that “As a city which caters to the welfare of residents and visitors, Lagos is placed under a huge strain that affects its infrastructure and has welfare implications for residents and citizens of other states in Nigeria. Many Nigerians travelling to Lagos experienced traffic congestion because of pressures on the road. Other problems faced in Lagos include overcrowding, emergence of slumps, overstretched healthcare facilities, decreased productivity because of hours lost in traffic, environmental challenges.”

She continued: “It is sad that Lagos State has been left to deal with these pressures on its own at huge cost. The state bears the burden for the wear and tear that many of the federal revenue- generating activities cause. Irrespective of its contributions to the economy, Lagos receives statutory allocations like other states which often translate into meagre sums when compared with other states generating revenue in the oil sector.”

The lawmaker told her colleagues that “The bill aims to remedy the problems faced by residents and visitors in Lagos by empowering the Federal Government to make provisions for economic assistance through grants as provided for under section 164 sub-section (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“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 the governor recommends the modest amount not less than one per cent of the share of the revenue accruing to the Federal Government. The amount is payable upon appropriation by the National Assembly.”

According to Tinubu, “This grants will be utilised in meeting the public infrastructural need of Lagos State. For example, improving on rail infrastructure to decongest the roads and for promotion of the conducive social economic environment for federal institutions as well as increasing the state’s capacity to continue to play host.”

But in his own contribution to the debate, Adeyeye argued that the provisions of the constitution should be amended in such a manner that the principle of fiscal federalism is upheld. He suggested that 13 per cent of money collected by the Federal Government as Value Added Tax (VAT) should be reserved for states like Lagos where such taxes are collected.

“We have among us a governor who made a law that banned the consumption of alcohol. That’s what the people want. I supported it. He has the right to make the law. However, if my own people consume alcohol and pay VAT on it, he should not take a penny of what my people have for VAT on alcohol.

“In Lagos, all of us were paying tax. And all of this VAT is taken to Abuja. What we need to do is to say that whatever is good for the goose is good for the gander. If it’s 13 per cent for Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers for oil, let it also be 13 per cent to Lagos for the VAT paid there.”

Adeyeye continued: “Mr. President, you led us to Washington DC on fiscal federalism. We were told that when we see federal roads in the U.S., it’s federal only in name. It’s federal only because the Federal Government of the U.S. provides 80 per cent of the money and the state government provides 20 per cent. 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.”

And just as Adeyeye was about ending his argument, an overwhelming number of senators booed him, shouting him down.Ekweremadu was however swift in asking Adeyeye to withdraw his remark that FCT was a rotten child and it was done. But noticing the anger from senators, Ekweremadu resorted to pleading for calm.

After the rowdiness subsided, Ekweremadu put the question to vote on whether the bill should be allowed to pass the second reading stage. The response was overwhelming as majority responded in the negative. Shocked, Ekweremadu repeated the question thrice. It was rejected and so he ruled that the bill had been thrown out.




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  • Tony Oshea

    Petroleum oil producing states should also be granted ” Special Status “.

    • amador kester

      Any geopolitical zone that has not up to the six states structure of other zones and thus had been monumentally and silently shortchanged in statutory revenue allocation for decades to the tune of trillions of naira should by same token mobilize and seek special status or immediate creation of additional two compensatory states with all bureaucratic protocols waived as a matter of utmost significance. Either special status or new states if at all justice,equity and fairplay are anything to go by. Either or …

  • Ayo Aiyelabola

    Already Niger Delta has been given special status with 13% allocation and a parastatal – NDDC. Whether anybody likes it or not God has given Lagos State a special status. Abuja is indeed rotten and over pampered.

    • Osanebi Osakuni

      This is the same reason Lagos may not get this request. You can’t insult others to get what you want. It is hypocritical to be advocating for fiscal federalism and at the same time advertising the return of paltry 13% of revenue derivation to Niger Delta. Sapele and cocoa ports in Delta State are the deepest port in Nigeria yet SW ganged up against Niger Delta to develop Lagos Port. Nigeria until this hour do not mind the loss of revenue to Republic of Benin as a result of this selfish politics. Let Nigeria be restructured. Simple!

      • youandme

        You are wrong. Very wrong.

      • Ayo Aiyelabola

        The likes of Osanebi, because of their phobia for the stature of the Yoruba race will pick holes in anything a Yoruba man says. Otherwise, I fail to see anything insulting in my confirming that God has giving Lagos a special status. For now I will not join issues with him other plead  that he allows love to percolate through him so he sees and appreciates the good in others.

        • Osanebi Osakuni

          My dear, I would have replied you earlier but wanted a reduced number of respondents to have access to this because it is largely personal. Hear it, I don’t hate the Yoruba race, I grew up from a UPN leadership family in the old Bendel and present Delta state, indeed Action Congress won in my community to the last time it existed in Delta. Hear it, the only car I have given out free was to a Yoruba man almost 3 years ago. However, I challenge you if you understand the subject of fiscal federalism to explain the rationale behind any sensible adult make such a statement about 13% revenue derivation to Niger Delta while clamouring for fiscal federalism. Absolutely silly, insincere and hypocritical to say the least. The unfortunate thing about most blind political followers is that objectivity means nothing. Go and ask your grandfather if he is still alive about the mess the Yoruba people are taking themselves through in the hands of Hausa Fulani today. Am sure that he will most likely will tell you that the spirit of Awo and Abiola must be placing seriously curses on your present leaders. Both of those fine leaders (particularly Awo) were sent to jail after hiring one of you to blackmail them. Soon, very soon, I can assure you that this pastor VP will blackmail Tinubu. Just wait!

          • Ayo Aiyelabola

            Now that  your language has become very uncivilised I find it very difficult to continue this discussion with you. I don’t know your age, but at 75 I will never send you to ask any question from your grandfather. However I should correct you when you think you were doing the Yorubas some favour by having sympathy for UPN and ACN because they were not Yoruba parties rather they were national parties.My kind regards and respect to your grandfather.

          • Osanebi Osakuni

            Thank you so very much sir. Please dear, you expected too much from me by expecting I should have known that you were too old to have a grand dad on the web platform where you don’t have such a profile. Secondly, UPN and AC were national parties, yes. Am also old enough to remember that it was all about nomenclature otherwise, those parties existed in SW (except Bendel in 1978-1983) alone in reality. You have only succeeded in feeding me half truth in that regards. Finally, Governor Ayo Fayose has corroborated my response to you in his condemnation of the way some Yoruba have been harvested to rubbish Tinubu within APC. Aribasala has again maintained same position today all in Vanguard. At 75 I expect better from you. Enjoy your weekend sir.

  • Basil Ogbanufe

    Lagos state does not deserve any special status.

    • ImpactK

      Do you mean it? what a way of narrow thinking.

      • Basil Ogbanufe

        What special status? Lagos state enjoys the advantage of being commercial capital of Nigeria because, 1. It was capital of the colonial government.
        2. It was capital of the federal republic of Nigeria since 1960.
        3. Because of 1& 2 the bulk of commercial activities in the country were in Lagos. 4. When Nigeria’s political capital moved to Abuja it left the commercial activities behind in Lagos.

        • youandme

          I pity you. Who were your teachers in school?

    • youandme

      Bad belle dey worry you. Yeye

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  • ImpactK

    If truly Lagos is the economic or commercial capital of Nigeria, common sense dictates that it deserves a place in National Priorities and considerations. Talking about Nigeria terrible ranking in global index of ease of doing business, the situation of things in Lagos is a major determinant. If politics and individual attitude consideration is now allowed to becloud a matter of National Interest as important as this, the Senate has just scored another own goal and Nigeria is further denied another opportunity for greatness.

  • ImpactK

    When will Nigeria Senate stop denying Nigeria the desired greatness?

  • ADE SAMUEL

    OUR LEADERS DO NOT ALWAYS LIKE TO LISTEN TO THE TRUTH. WHAT IS THE
    FCT CONTRIBUTING IN ECONOMIC TERMS TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF NIGERIA? IF
    OTHER STATES ARE GETTING 13% FROM WHAT THEY HAVE, WHY CAN’T LAGOS GET?
    AND WHO DOES NOT KNOW THAT THE PROBLEM LAGOS IS EXPERIENCING TODAY IS
    BCOS OF THE CITIZENS OF OTHER STATES WHO HAVE COME TO SEEK GREENER
    PASTURES IN LAGOS. IF THEY APPROVE THE ALLOCATION, WILL IT BENEFIT ONLY
    THE INDIGENES OR ALSO THE FOREIGNERS WHO ARE ALMOST OUTNUMBERING THE
    REAL INDIGENES?THEY THREW OUT THE BILL BCOS SOMEONE SAID WHAT IS OBVIOUS. IS FCT NOT REALLY A PAMPERED CHILD?

  • Jonathan

    I think the Senator who sponsored the bill needs to go back and do leg work among her colleagues before representing the bill again. Me think that there is a merit to that bill.

  • AmaraMr ikwuegbu

    lagos deserved no special status ,all states deserved 40 percent of its resources or more , the state that implement sharia law should be given sharia law benefit

    • Carlos el Primero

      is it by force to comment????

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  • John Paul

    The Nigerian Senate is an unnecessary middle man.

    Most of Nigeria’s revenue comes from rent collected from the sales of crude oil. When this money comes into the coffers of government, the FGN spends a staggering N360 million, per annum, in paying each senators’ wages, benefits and allowances.

    Meanwhile countries that are much richer than Nigeria – United Kingdom, France, Canada, Israel, India, Japan etc – practice the cost-saving parliamentary system whereby the executive is mainly elected from members of parliament

    If Nigeria cannot adopt the cost saving parliamentary system of Government, the least that we can do is to scrap the Senate and have a unicameral legislature. The N36 million that each senator makes every month can hire – at least – 700 police officers, for each of their senatorial zones, at a salary of N50,000 per police officer

    Nigeria needs more police officers than Senators

    While we are at it. There should also be a constitutional amendment, if necessary, to allow State governments to practice a parliamentary system. Whereby all the commissioners are appointed from members of the House of Representatives.

    If the UK etc uses this costs saving measure, what on earth is the logic of the 27 broke States, that cannot pay salaries, to be use all their allocations to be paying both commissioners and members of the House.

    Nigeria has to get serious.

    Otherwise we will borrow billions, sell all our assets and 70% of the funds that accrue to the government from asset sales and borrowing will go to unnecessary recurrent expenditure. Only for us to be broke again, with little or no infrastructure, in a decade or less

  • Ayo Faleti

    Why should Lagos have a special status? A continuation of the top-down mentality which leads to nowhere. Lagos will only be special by making itself special, not by executive/legislative fiat.

    • amador kester

      Nigeria could adopt the strategic dispensation of some other nations by having a commercial capital at lagos and administrative capital at abuja. But the pros and cons should be analytically weighed first

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