LAST week, the senate passed the North East Development Commission, NEDC Bill which empowers the federal government to set up a commission to rebuild the North East geo-political zone following its devastation by the activities of an Islamic sect, Jama’atu Ahlus Sunnsh Lidda’ Awati Wal Jihad, popularly known and called Boko Haram. The zone comprises of six states: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe. But aside them, Kano and Plateau States located in the North West and North Central zones respectively, are to benefit from the rebuilding plans of the commission. The decision to include Kano and Plateau in the rebuilding plan followed a protest by Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (APC Kano Central) that the two states were several times attacked by the Boko Haram insurgents. The bill provides that the commission should be located in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital and funded by three per cent of the federation’s Value Added Tax, VAT for a period of 10 years. The Senate also resolved the controversy surrounding the location of the headquarters of the Commission, by approving that it should be sited in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. However, the three Senators representing Lagos State kicked against the approval of the three percent VAT for the Commission for 10 years, saying that their earlier request for one VAT for Lagos was rejected by the same Chamber. Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central), had sponsored a bill, entitled, “A bill for an act to make provisions for Federal Grants to Lagos State in recognition of its strategic socio- economic significance and other connected purposes”. Unfortunately, when the bill was debated for second reading a fortnight ago, it was vehemently opposed by some senators, who argued that it would amount to giving undue advantage to Lagos over other states, resulting in the bill being killed. But after the approval for the NEDC, the Lagos senators renewed its appeal, urging the Senate to accommodate Lagos State by revisiting and passing the bill into law. The bill among others, requested the Senate to approve just one per cent VAT of the federal revenue to Lagos as a former federal capital of the country. In a joint press briefing shortly after plenary, Senators Olugbenga Ashafa (APC Lagos East and Adeola Olamilekan Solomon (APC Lagos West) said it was wrong for the Senate to approve three percent for the NEDC without considering
Two weeks ago, a bill by Senator Oluremi Tinibu was presented; asking the Senate to approve 1 percent for Lagos state as a former federal capital but the bill was not passed. We feel we should present our feelings to the press and Nigerians; we are appealing to Nigerians to assist us ensure that they give us listening ear. “We the contributor of 70 percent of the VAT income believe that 1 percent is not too much. We are calling on the Senate to accommodate Lagos one percent vat bill. It has been agreed by our constituents to reintroduce the bill and we believe that our colleagues and all Nigerians will support us”. It would be recalled that the six North East states had in the recent years, faced with serious security challenges. The insurgents started their attack on a police station in Maiduguri on July 26, 2009 before the situation degenerated into insurgency and terrorism that almost consume those states and the neighbouring ones before the recent successes recorded by the military. The group’s activities often characterized by incessant attacks in virtually all the states in the
Lagos for its one per cent demand from the same VAT. The lawmakers who hinted that the bill would be reintroduced in the Senate, said that “what is good for the goose is also good for the gander”, wondering why the senate rejected the bill. Senator Ashafa said, “Every one of us knows that 68 percent vat nationwide comes from Lagos.

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