Lagos has special status: Let’s make it official – Part 2
Continued from yesterday
There had been two attempts, failed, sadly – for a bill to designate the state as special in terms of allocation of development resources due to its socio-economic significance and peculiar needs.
The bill sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the Senator for Lagos Central Senatorial District, proposed a law that allocates one per cent of federally generated revenues as a special grant for Lagos State. It was to compel the Federal Government to officially recognise Lagos as the country’s commercial capital. Some senators did not see any need for a constitutional intervention and others raised arguments for special status for their own states. Needless to say, a good bill was drowned under the weight and noise of political posturing.
It is not that Nigeria ought to grant Lagos special favours. Rather, the federal government ought to support and encourage Lagos to grow in the many ways it had grown and afforded Nigeria greater tax revenue, greater GDP growth, greater number and quality of jobs for Nigerians of all tribes, and greater influence in the comity of nations. Let the derivable content of a special status for Lagos State change from “special favours” as presently perceived to that of a fair share of stakes and opportunities.
It is equitable for Lagos to enjoy derivation benefit, as with oil-producing states, in regard to her 55% VAT revenue contribution to the federal purse. It is fair for Lagos to receive a derivation percentage of her 82 per cent contribution to the income tax revenue accruing to the centre. Prof Yemi Osinbajo was recently reported as revealing that all the 214 people who paid up to N20 million each as tax per annum were resident in Lagos. That of another 914 who paid between N10 million and N20 million tax, only two were resident outside Lagos.
It is actually fair; reasoning from the angle of a Lagos many would claim belongs to all Nigerians, to allocate that 1% of all federally collected revenue to address development challenges of this microcosm of Nigeria.
Nigeria has only one Lagos. Just like America has one Big Apple, New York City, New York when hit with a disaster was not another American state. It was a rallying point for national awakening, vigour, action and affirmation. As Nigerians, we have one state with the nature, character, significance and importance of Lagos. When Lagos is in distress we ought to listen. From all tribes and corners, from all works of life, we all have a part of us within the borders of this “every man’s land” – Lagos.
The Nigerian Senate and other stakeholders, can lead the way, reinvent Nigeria and her thirst for robust unity and development by showing that as a nation, we can collectively do the right thing in spite of the pressure to differ for personal reasons and parochial political interests. Let our federal lawmakers prove –now- that our diversity is truly a basis for a strong progressive country. Recognise and confirm Lagos State’s special status and let the attendant benefit revamp Lagos, speed her to becoming the major African hub of progress, commerce and development that the biggest city in Nigeria ought to be. This is for the well-being of all who reside in Lagos, for Nigeria’s trajectory of growth and for the pride it affords all Nigerians.
Hon. David is chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy, & Security Lagos State House of Assembly.