By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Monsur Olowoopejo
Lagos state government, yesterday, said that over N1 billion was spent monthly by residents on merriment and entertainment in the state.
The state government however, said advocators for Local Government autonomy were insincere, saying “they were only pushing for it to score political points.”
Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Ademorin Kuye, made the remarks at the 2013 ministerial Press Briefing held in Alausa, Ikeja, to commemorate the sixth year anniversary of Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration.
Kuye said the statistics was a product of a recent research conducted by the State’s Ministry of Economic Planning and Budgeting, saying “this justified the reason why local Governments demand that anyone organising events in the state must pay the Merriment Tax.”
According to him, “There is merriment tax in that constitution, its part of the rate Local Governments can collect. We have not fully utilised the benefit of the entertainment industry in this state”.
“Over N1billion is spent monthly in Lagos state on entertainment and parties, we have the records to confirm this and this people, how many of them pay tax? The money goes into drinks, wine, food, aso-ebi and all of that and when they spend all of this money; they do not want to pay anything to the government”.
He lamented that the benefits of entertainment have not been fully tapped and utilised in the state and the country, stressing that taxes accruing to the government are spent on merriment
ON LG AUTONOMY
The commissioner said “The position of the govt is that, the clamour is not with sincere intention because it will not benefit the local govt. I have challenges people to go out there and finds out if it’s what the people want, those clamouring are doing so for political gains, to use the local govt to get elected into positions because at the very time of need of the local government funds were seized, it was the same people that said there was no need for local governments, now they are saying we should give money directly to the local government”.
“But he said the state government was in full support of tenure elongation for local governments to give them more time to carry out their constitutional responsibilities.”
“The decision of the State Executive Council is that the tenure of local government be increased to four years, but of course, we have given it to the elected representatives in the Lagos State House of Assembly and I believe they will call for public hearing and people will air their views. We feel there is need to give sufficient time to local government chairmen to execute their projects”.
He also flayed a recent report compiled from public hearings on constitutional review suggesting that the state electoral bodies should relinquish the right to conduct local government elections to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) positing that it negates the tenets of federalism which the country claims to be practicing.
Kuye added, “My position is that, that bill should be thrown. If what they want to correct is rigging of elections, don’t forget that the complaint against INEC itself over national elections is also rigging. An institution that has not been able to effectively conduct federal elections, now wants to take 774 local government elections again to continue the era of illegality and rigging and bring it to the local government elections. I am totally against it”