Revisit special status for Lagos bill, Ambode urges Senate
…Says one percent allocation to State will benefit all Nigerians
….Senate’ll take a second look at bill, Yerima assures
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday appealed to the Senate to revisit the Lagos special Status bill seeking one percent allocation to Lagos from the revenue accruable to the Federal Government, saying a passage of the bill would translate to economic prosperity and well-being of Nigeria.
Governor Ambode, who spoke at the Lagos House, Ikeja when he received on courtesy visit members of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport who were in Lagos to perform oversight function on federal institutions, said Lagos being a cosmopolitan city and the economic capital of Nigeria must be assisted by the Federal Government to address infrastructure challenges confronting it.
The Governor said considering the fact that Lagos used to be the capital of Nigeria and is home to every tribe in the country, the passage of the bill by Senators should be viewed from the point of its importance to the country, and not just to Lagos.
He said: “Come December 12, 2016, it will be 25 years that the capital of Nigeria was moved from Lagos to Abuja. So, 25 years after, this is where we are. I welcome wholeheartedly when Senator Sani Yerima said that anything that Lagos needs, the Senate will support us. So, I like to use this platform firstly to say a big thank you to the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President for allowing us to table our one percent special status because we have been struggling to put that up in the seventh Assembly, it was not done but it was through this eight Assembly that it was actually tabled and so we thank them for that.
“If we have about twelve Senators here and we are looking for two-third, we are saying here that it would not be out of place to revisit our appeal and our bill. Lagos is thoroughly cosmopolitan; it is a mini-Nigeria and then the wellbeing of Lagos is the total wellbeing of Nigeria and everybody has a stake here in Lagos and as a government, we have continually addressed the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos in a way that is suitable and comfortable for all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, creed or religion,” he said.
While clarifying the essence of the bill, the Governor said it only seeks one percent special allocation from the revenue accruable to the Federal Government, adding: “If we are able to do that, you can imagine what we would have done 25 years ago based on the understanding of gentlemen that Lagos would not be left behind or forgotten.
“So, that is the platform we want you to try and help us to have a re-look, a re-think and then think more of Nigeria in the bill rather than of Lagos because that is what that one percent assistance will address and then tends to create the image of the kind of commercial capital we want Lagos to be.”
The Governor, who described the visit by the members of the Senate Committee as apt and timely, said it came just after he had fruitful discussion in Denmark on the development of $2.6billion Badagry Deep Sea Port, aside the ongoing Lekki Port, adding that it was a pointer to the fact that there is convergence of vision and mission to grow Nigeria’s economy.
Besides, the Governor justified the development of additional ports in Lagos, saying it was now obvious that only Apapa Port cannot meet the demand of commerce and expansion required by the State, and therefore solicited the support of the Senate in that regard.
He said: “Another very important point is that the infrastructure around Apapa Port is not really befitting of what it should be. The real estate around Apapa Port has actually overtaken the activities of marine business there and that is why we are forward looking thinking there must be a different way to do business or commerce and we like to use this opportunity also to appeal to the Federal Ministry of Works to assist the haulage business in the Apapa area so that we can get federal roads well prepared for the kind of commerce we have there.
“We also believe that the only major means of transportation in Lagos is road and that is why we are doing a lot on rail and water transportation to ensure that we are able to disperse our people from one point to the other with ease and comfort and allow the marine business to thrive in Lagos,” he said.
Earlier, Chairman of the Senate Committee, Alhaji Sani Yerima, said members of the Committee were in Lagos to perform oversight function on federal institutions in the State to ensure that they are up and doing in their functions.
He commended Governor Ambode for the massive development going on in Lekki especially the Lekki Deep Sea Port situated at the Lekki Free Trade Zone, among other massive projects across the State, adding that the Senate would support anything that has to do with Lagos being a small Nigeria.
He specifically assured that the Senate would revisit the issue of the special status for Lagos, noting that as former capital of the country, everything must be done to support the State.
“Lagos is not only for Lagosians. If you look at Lagos, it has been the national capital and up till this moment, you find people from all states of the federation earning living here and so anything we do for Lagos, we are not doing it for Lagos alone and I will call Lagos a mini Nigeria. So, by the grace of God, we are going to look at the bill again,” Yerima said.