Today, 15th May, 2013, on the floor of the Senate of the National Assembly, Senator Oluremi Tinub
The bill is being sponsored by senators Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central), Ganiyu Solomon (Lagos West) and Olugbenga Ashafa (Lagos East). It primarily seeks to grant special status to Lagos State in recognition of its importance as the former Federal Capital of Nigeria and the commercial nerve centre, its unique mega city status and its strategic socio-economic significance in the country. Also, the bill seeks the provision of financial grants to Lagos state as provided for in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Section 164(1), which says, “The Federation may make grants to a State to supplement the revenue of that State in such sum and subject to such terms and conditions as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.”
In the proposed bill, which has scaled through first reading, there are provisions for thedesignation of the state as a Special Area, which will open the way for the federal government to make financial grants to the state every year as supplements to the revenue accruable to it from the federation account.
Part of the bill says such financial grants shall be determined by the president, on the advice of the state governor, in consideration of the total revenues accruable to the federation account directly from taxes, levies, duties and other charges on individuals and corporate bodies as well as transactions within Lagos State.
The bill also states that the financial grants shall not be less than one per cent of the share of revenue allocated to the federal government in the federation account which shall “be payable only upon appropriation by the National Assembly in the Federal Government budget for the relevant year.”
Furthermore, the bill says the financial grants shall be spent in building new roads, bridges, railways and other public infrastructure; maintaining the existing infrastructure to keep them serviceable and ease the movement of traffic across the state; improving facilities in public primary and secondary schools; building police stations, prisons and other security establishments as well as procurement of equipment for public health institutions.
The bill, which also provides for the expenditure of financial grants made under the Act through the approval of the Lagos State House of Assembly each year, also stipulates the establishment of a committee to be known as the “Joint Lagos State Development Committee.”
The committee shall consist of six members with three of them each appointed by the Presidentand the governor of Lagos State, with the former nominating one of them as Chairman while the latter nominates another as Secretary.
In conclusion, the bill clearly states the powers of all the parties involved, a recommendation a term of five years for all committee members, as well as, conditions under which a member will cease to hold office.
It is hoped that this bill, which will undoubtedly relieve the state government of some of the heavy burden it continues to lift on behalf of the federal government, will be pass this historic second reading and eventually become law.