A special status and a special grant are fair requests that would have encouraged and rewarded Lagos State for what it contributes to the federal purse, the Lagos State government said yesterday.
The disclosure follows the Senate’s recent rejection of a bill by Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central) calling for the state to be accorded distinct privileges.
In a statement yesterday, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, said: “A yes for the bill would have provided an opportunity to truly reflate the economy and empower Lagos State in serving as home to more than 21 million Nigerians and as hub to the largest volume of businesses and foreign direct investments in Nigeria. But clearly, a spectacular opportunity has been missed by ignoring this important bill.”
He added: “The truth of the matter is that as the most populous Nigerian state and the commercial heartbeat of the entire West Africa; a state that would have been the fifth largest economy in Africa if it were an independent country, Nigeria needs Lagos in order for other parts of the country to continue to benefit from Lagos.”
The statement quoted Governor Akinwumi Ambode as saying: “At a time that our country needs courageous voices that seek solutions that can benefit millions of Nigerians, irrespective of where they are from, what the distinguished Senator Oluremi Tinubu has done is to draw attention to how Lagos State can provide more succour to Nigerians, being home to the largest assemblage of Nigerians. She has drawn attention to how Lagos deserves to be assisted, so that the state can further provide assistance to millions of Nigerians. It is a pity that this import was not seen from that perspective by the majority of her colleagues.”
The Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, meanwhile, has expressed disappointment over Senate’s failure to accord Lagos a special status.
The State Publicity Secretary of the party, Joe Igbokwe, yesterday, said the rejection of the bill by the Senate, however, did not imply end to agitation.
He said it was imperative the National Assembly realised that the demand would impact positively on every Nigerian and the country’s economy “if passed by the legislature. We therefore urge the senators to see beyond their little personal interests and see the need for re-introduction and passage of the bill.”
According to Igbokwe, “We are surprised that at a time the country’s economic well being rests on the efficiency of Lagos, some senators still cannot see beyond myopic interests to view the bigger picture that by assisting Lagos to grow, it is serving the interests of all Nigerians. At a time Lagos accommodates the largest percentage of the country’s population, we would have expected the Senate to rise above narrow mindedness and give Lagos the needed encouragement to optimise its capacities to serve Nigeria well.”
The Lagos chapter of the APC also expressed disbelief that the Senate failed to see the relevance of boosting the capacity of Lagos to continue playing the role of the golden goose that lays the golden egg, especially at a time of economic recession when the huge revenue from the state serves as a booster to dwindling resources from other sectors of the economy.
“We are surprised that the Senate was ignorant of the need to assist the state that hosts Nigeria’s industrial hub as well as its intelligentsia, to improve its rising profile as Nigeria’s economic nerve center for the benefit of every Nigerian,” he added.