By Monsuru Olowoopejo
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State yesterday berated the Governorship candidates of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and National Conscience Party, NCP, Mr. Jimi Agbaje and Mr. Ayodele Akele and others over plans to cancel the Lekki-Epe toll, saying “I marvel when people show ignorance as idea.”
Both candidates (Agbaje and Akele) had at different forums few weeks ago, argued that if elected they would scrap the lekki-Epe toll and terminate the contract of Alpha Beta, an agency which checks state revenue agencies.
Fashola spoke at a roundtable forum organised by the Nigerian-British Chambers of Commerce, NBCC in Lagos, which also had in attendance the NBCC president, Prince Adeyemi Adefulu and others.
The governor said “When I hear some people saying that if they assume office in Lagos State they will cancel toll, it worries me. It raises serious question about the understanding of the undertaking. When the idea started, perhaps people don’t connect the dots, the global community is a very small community.
“It is not Lagos that will be hurt but the entire country. And the day a government begin to cancel contracts, it affects the economy. Our credit will be reappraised and borrowing cost will increase because there is an instrument called the Federal Support Agreement and this was equivalent to the Sovereign Warranty.”
He explained that the concessions are partnerships with the global investment community, and bothering on integrity of the Nigerian state, adding “For instance when we were negotiating this concession, they took us back to the metro-line and they demanded that a law was passed to assure them that no one will cancel the project. And we did.
“They said that they know the present government but they do not know who will take over from you. We want the government of your country to give us guarantee.”
ON ALPHA BETA
Fashola lamented that before Alpha Beta was engaged by the state, the state couldn’t generate what was due to it.
His words “The revenue accruing to Lagos State in 1999 monthly was N600 million. That was not all the revenue that was due to state. This was what the state could get. And the entire budget for the state was less than N20 billion.
“The same state is now generating N20 billion monthly. The revenue didn’t fall from heaven. It was collected by an accounting process that makes everyone want to pay.
“The truth was that this agency does not touch cash. We have LIRS that deals with the taxes. What Alpha Beta does was to put a system check in place to ensure that the government could see its balances and others. And they issue residents tax cards,” the governor added.