• We’re only seeking 1% economic assistance, says Ambode
One month after it suspended deliberation on a bill seeking to adduce special status to Lagos State, the Senate yesterday promised to reconsider the proposal in the interest of Nigeria.
The Chairman of Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Yerima Sani, made the pledge at a strategic session with Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, at the State House, Alausa.
Also at the session were other members of the committee comprising Senator Ahmed Ogembe, Senator Ben Uwajumogu, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, Senator Abdullahi Gumal, Senator Obinna Ogbu and Senator Sam Anyanwu.
The special status bill, which was turned down at the National Assembly three times on October 5, was sponsored by a lawmaker representing Lagos Central senatorial district, Senator Oluremi Tinubu.
The bill, which seeks to eke provisions for federal grants to Lagos State in recognition of its socio-economic significance and other connected purposes, was presented at the 7th Senate, but the lawmakers rejected it at the committee stage.
Also, the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Constitutional Review under the chairmanship of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, turned down the state’s quest for special status on June 3, 2013.
At a meeting with the governor at the State House yesterday, however, Sani assured him that the people of Lagos “should count on the support of the Senate for anything,” which he said would be required “to further uplift its status as an economic capital of Nigeria.”
He acknowledged that the Senate “knows Lagos is a special state. Quite obviously, anything that affects Lagos will have its effect on the whole country. We shall revisit the issue of special status for the state.
“Formerly, the state served as former seat of power to the federal government, hence the need to do the needful and avail it the special status it deserves. But we are here now for our oversight function and to ensure that all government agencies do their job.”
In the same light, Ambode provided rare insight into the state’s quest for special status, noting that it was only meant to retain one percent special economic assistance from revenues the federal government “is generating in the state.
Precisely, on December 12, Ambode pointed out that it would be 25 years that the capital of Nigeria “was moved from Lagos to Abuja. 25 years after, this is where we are. I was glad when Senator Sani said that anything that Lagos needs, the Senate will support us.”
He said what the state was actually asking for “is one per cent special economic assistance from the revenue accruable to the federal government. If we are able to get it, you can imagine what we will have done 25 years ago based on an understanding that Lagos will not be left behind or forgotten.
“Lagos is thoroughly cosmopolitan. It is a mini- Nigeria and then the wellbeing of Lagos is the total wellbeing of Nigeria. Everybody has a stake in Lagos. 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,” the governor explained.
Ambode, therefore, pleaded with the Senate leadership ”to have a re-look, a re-think and then think more of Nigeria in the bill rather than of Lagos and what one percent special economic assistance will address and create the image of the kind of economic capital we want Lagos to be.”