Ambode Asks Senate to Reconsider Lagos’ Special Status


•Says state records 69% budget performance •Akiolu blames Obasanjo for plight
Gboyega Akinsanmi
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Tuesday asked the Senate to reconsider its decision to reject a bill seeking special status for the state, noting that the bill “is in the overall interest of Nigeria.”

However, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, alleged that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was the main reason the state “has not been accorded with or granted a special status till this moment.”

The duo expressed the views at the third quarterly townhall meeting held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, where they appealed to the Senate to reactivate and reconsider the bill.

At the meeting, Ambode commended Senator Oluremi Tinubu for initiating the bill, which he said, sought to retain one per cent of all revenues the federal government generated from the state.

He said: “We must recollect that the bill was introduced in the seventh National Assembly. We also commend the Senate President for being magnanimous enough to have allowed the bill.”

Contrary to what was reported in the media, Ambode explained that the bill “has not been actually rejected from the findings we have done so far. The senate only suspended deliberation on the bill.

“It simply means we can still activate the bill again. It also means all our leaders, elders or royal fathers, who are in support of the bill will work together to ensure its passage. It means we will bring back that bill and make it succeed in the overall interest of Nigeria.”

On his part, Akiolu said Obasanjo had the opportunity “to have granted Lagos a special status during his eight-year tenure, but that the former president never did in spite of the pressure mounted on him. Obasanjo is the cause of Lagos not getting a special status.

The monarch explained how he personally led eminent Lagosians “to meet him during his tenure to ask for a special status for Lagos,” saying Obasanjo told him and others that he had already drafted the special status plan for Lagos.

He lamented that the former president never fulfilled that promise, saying if he had done it since then, the issue of the National Assembly turning down Tinubu’s bill “will not have arisen.

“If former President Umaru Yar’Adua had been alive, he would have granted Lagos a special status. Yar’Adua had promised the grant Lagos a special status. If Yar’Adua had not died, it would have happened by now.”

On budget performance, Ambode said the state “generated a total revenue of N97.3 billion in the last quarter and had a total expenditure of 110.2 billion considering the fact that our cash reserve has remained positive. We expended N55 billion on capital expenditure in the last quarter.

“Our budget performance for January to September is 69 per cent as against 65 per cent for the same period in 2015. A total of N166.8 billion has been spent on Capital Projects this year more than double the N53.6 billion spent for the same period last year.

“We believe strongly that continuous increase in the capital expenditure spending is a necessity at this particular period.  We will concentrate more resources on capital projects. We will put money in the hands of our local contractors.
“Through them, we will stimulate and reflate the economy. Immediate payments will be made to contractors handling health sector and education sector projects within the next two weeks,” the governor explained.