Governor Babatunde Fashola
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has rejected a plan by the Federal Government to impose a consumption tax on petrol each time the petroleum product is bought by consumers at fuel stations, describing it as unconstitutional.
Fashola took the standpoint during a public lecture in commemoration of the 80th birthday celebration of Alhaji Femi Okunnu, which he delivered at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in Victoria Island, Lagos.
In a text of the lecture obtained at the weekend, the governor warned against the Federal Government’s numerous unconstitutional acts with regrettable consequences on the country’s federal practice.
He said the Federal Government lacked the power under the 1999 Constitution to tax the consumption of petrol at the pumps.
He noted that the Federal Government “is still threatening to levy a consumption tax through an unconstitutional legislation called FERMA Act, by which it expresses intention to tax the purchase of petrol at the pumps.
“I have news for them (the Federal Government). Lagos will resist it. Enough is enough. The reasons are simple: This is a consumption tax that is collectible by the territory in which the fuel is consumed,” he said.
He explained that Lagos boasts 592 state roads, 8,402 local government roads and 25 federal roads, adding that the roads bear the burden of heavy tonnage of vehicles.
“When we are ready, we will collect those fuel taxes and use them to fix state and local government roads within the territory of the state.
“The Federal Government is already collecting oil royalties, taxing profits of oil firms at about 30 per cent; taking 52.68 per cent of the national revenues and leaving 26.72 per cent for the states and 20.60 per cent for local councils. We will not lie easy and watch further encroachment,” Fashola said.
He also faulted the plan by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to celebrate Nigeria’s centenary anniversary, noting that there was no concrete basis for rolling out the drums for the anniversary.
He argued that ongoing plans to mark the centenary anniversary of Nigeria were needless since the amalgamation in 1914 was done due to the interests of the imperial powers rather than the interests of the nations that made up the country.
He said: “My worry is heightened because I have been privileged to re-read the confidential memo by Lord Lugard containing the proposal on the amalgamation of Nigeria submitted to the colonial office on May 13, and also the exchange of telegram correspondence between him and Mr. Harcourt, who I believe was the Secretary of State to the colonies and the person after whom Port Harcourt was named.
“It seems clear that the amalgamation for the imperial powers was done more for compelling reasons rather than our interest. Indeed, one of the telegrams described us as an overseas possession of His Majesty, the King of England.
“My worry today is that after we rolled out the drums in 2010 to celebrate 50 years of freedom from colonial rule, what is the historical benefit of celebrating the day and year that a colonial governor merged us together without consultation in a bondage that last 46 years, until October 1, 1960?
“Before we continue this journey (centenary celebration), have we asked ourselves how Ernest Ikoli, Herbert Macaulay, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikwe and many nationalists, who fought for independence and liberation will feel about this centenary that celebrates our bondage?
“Which other African state has celebrated such an event or the Berlin Conference that balkanized our continent?
“What examples are we setting for Africa? Have we ever celebrated Amalgamation Day? Did we celebrate the 99th or did the centenary just become attractive? I ask these questions because I really seek answers and understanding. Honestly, I am still not sure what to make of it.”
Fashola shared his experience of the bi-centennial celebration of the United States of America (USA) in 1976, explaining that the US celebrated 200 years of their liberation from colonial governance in 1976.
He added that the Statue of Liberty in New York was the symbol of the freedom and self-rule that they celebrate till today because New York was the capital of the US before it was moved to Washington, just like Lagos yielded that role to Abuja.
In this regard, Fashola noted that it “is easy to identify Tafawa Balewa Square as a monument of our liberty because that was where the British flag (Union Jack) was lowered and replaced with our national flag.”