By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday urged the Senate to reconsider the bill seeking one percent allocation to Lagos from the revenue accruable to the Federal Government, saying it would ensure economic prosperity not just for Lagosians but all Nigerians.
The governor, who spoke at the Lagos House, Ikeja when he received members of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, who are in the state to perform oversight functions, said Lagos being a cosmopolitan city and the economic capital of Nigeria must be assisted by the Federal Government to address the infrastructure challenges confronting it.
He 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.
According to him, “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 well-being of Lagos is the total well-being 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.
On 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.”
Ambode said the visit by the members of the Senate Committee as apt and timely, as it came few days after he had fruitful discussions 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
“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,” Ambode 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 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.