By Yinka Odumakin
I HAVE given up on some Lagos folks who can’t understand that this nation,country is founded in iniquity and sustained by injustice.We have been locked in this argument over the years on whether Lagos should be pleading for some special status in a land of systemic inequality or press for what is due to her in a properly federated Nigeria.
For those Lagosians who think their fate would be well served by begging and pleading for what they should have as a right in a country founded on equity and justice,they need to read a paper presented by Mr. Solomon Asemota(SAN) titled “Lagos, the original Southern lady of means” to commemorate 50 years of the state recently.
Let me take some excerpts from the presentation:
“The title of my presentation is derived from the speech at a Colonial Service Dinner in 1913 by Lord Harcourt the then Secretary of State of the Colonies, (after whom Port Harcourt was named). He summarised in a humorous metaphor, the dependence of Northern Nigeria on the British Treasury for sustenance, when he said:
Alliance with Southern lady of Means
“we have released Northern Nigeria from the leading strings of the Treasury. The promising and well-conducted youth is now on an allowance “on his own” and is about to effect an alliance with a Southern Lady of means. I have issued the special license and Sir Frederick Lugard will perform the ceremony. May the union be fruitful and the couple constant!
The Nigerians are not designed to be a great “Trust” but a great “Federation”.1 The marriage between the “well conducted Youth of the North and the Southern Lady of means” became necessary for two reasons (1) the well conducted Youth relied on the British Treasury for subsistence and (2) the affection the British colonialists had for the Fulani people (the Negroids) at a time when racism was an important factor in human history. The British knew that sooner than later, the British Treasury would stop augmenting the finances of Northern Nigeria.
“The Negro South or Southern Lady of means, on the other hand, had surplus as a result of import duties collected at Lagos Port especially import duty on liquor which grew from 3s to 3/6p per gallon in 1901 – 5/6d in 1912 and, by 1913, the revenue from Gin was £138,000. The grant of British tax payers to the well conducted Youth averaged £314,500 for 11 years ending March 1912.”7 Southern Nigeria on the other hand, helped to complete Northern railways from Baro to Kano, thus the need to have one treasury for the two countries Southern and Northern Nigerias became apparent. A common railway policy was preferred to two. These were the main factors responsible for amalgamation. To this day, the “South” based on arbitrary latitude, remains the Lady of means as an oil producing Region with Lagos as the original”
In 2014 alone the Nigerian Ports Authority that should be under the control of Lagos state generated N162b.60 % of the total Value Added Tax in Nigeria comes from Lagos which shares only a pittance from the federation account.Those who send Sharia police to destroy beer in their territories smile to the banks from proceeds of beer consumption in Lagos!
Special status for Lagos
On October 5, 2016,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, was sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos Central. The said Bill was first presented to the Upper chamber in the 7th Senate, but the lawmakers turned it down at the committee stage. Specifically, on June 5, 2013, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu-led Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review, in its report, ruled out special status for Lagos. It said: “On Special Status for Lagos, while the Committee appreciates the peculiar needs and challenges of Lagos, it is our considered opinion that according such special status should be a matter of political decision, which should be kept out of the Constitution.”
In a very rowdy session,the Tinubu bill was unanimously thrown away by the Senate with many remarks by the Senators rubbing pepper on the injury against the original lady of means.May be Lagos would now realise after the session that if we practiced federalism the way it should be done,the pleading would be the other way round.
But by some strange twist, the same Senate a few days afterwards approved the allocation of three per cent of Value Added Tax (VAT) accruable to the Federal Government in the next 10 years for the rebuilding of the North-East. This was sequel to the adoption of the recommendation of the Ad hoc Committee on North-East Development Commission Bill, which also proposed that the commission be domiciled in Borno state.
The North East would now rake 3% from VAT accurable to the Federal Government for the next 10 years and this was sanctioned by the same body that ruled that the state that is generating 60% of the fund from which this money would be taken does not deserve a special status.
Composition of NEDC
And that is not all, the North East Development Commission has revealed. A look at the composition of the board of the commission and that of Niger Delta Development Commission shows clearly all that is wrong with Nigeria .The composition of NEDC is as follows :
” 2.-( 1) There is established for the Commission, a body to be known as the Commission Governing Board (in this Bill referred to as “the Board”).
(2) The Board shall consist of-
(b) one person each who shall be an indigene to represent the State listed below –
(c) three persons to represent the following Security Organisation-
(i) the Army who shall not be below the rank of a Colonel;
(ii) the Police who shall not be below the rank of Superintendant of Police;
(iii) the Civil Defence Corp who shall not be below the rank of Deputy Commandant.
(d) One representative of Solid minerals extracting and Mining producing companies in the North East States nominated by those companies;
(e) one person to represent the-
(i) Federal Ministry of Finance;
(ii) Federal Ministry of Education;
(iii) Federal Ministry of Environment; and
(3)(d) the Managing Director of the Commission.”
Federal funds would be used to maintain this commission and yet members are only drawn from the zone .It should also be noted that the devastation they would be dealing with are caused by the children of the region who are revolting against Western education and who are still at the job.
Now compare with the NDDC Board:
“Establishment of Governing Board of the Commission
2.- (1) There is hereby established for the Commission a governing Board ( in this Act referred to as (“the Board”), which shall consist of:
(a) a Chairman;
(b) one person who shall be an indigene of an oil producing area to represent each of the following member States, that is,
(ii) Akwa-Ibom State;
(iii) Bayelsa State;
(iv) Cross River State;
(v) Delta State;
(vi) Edo State;
(vii) Imo State;
(viii) Ondo State; and (ix) Rivers State;
(c) three persons to represent non-Oil mineral producing States provided that such membership should be drawn from the remaining geo-political zones which are not represented in the Commission;
(d) One representative of Oil producing companies in the Niger- Delta nominated by the Oil producing companies;
(e) one person to represent the Federal Ministry of Finance;
(f) one person to represent Federal Ministry of Environment;
(g) the Managing Director of the Commission; and
(h) two executive Directors; ”
When the Senate on 10th October 2016 approved the NDDC board,it refused to approve Olatokunbo Ajasin and three others from Southern states whom it said were not from oil producing communities in their states but approved members from North West,North East and North Central where they are still searching for oil.
Nigeria is a joke,only it is not funny!