Senate passes north east development bill, includes Kano, Plateau
The Senate yesterday passed for third reading a bill seeking to establish the North-East Development Commission (NEDC) to intervene in the reconstruction of the region devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency.
The bill included Kano and Plateau states to benefit from the commission’s funds, even though they are located in north-west and north-central geopolitical zones respectively.
The decision to include the two states in the rebuilding plan followed a motion by Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano Central) that they also witnessed terrorist attacks by the insurgents.
The Senate, in passing the bill, approved the allocation of three per cent of the country’s Value Added Tax (VAT) to the commission for a period of 10 years.
It also resolved the controversy surrounding the location of the headquarters of the commission, by approving that it should be in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
However, the three senators representing Lagos State kicked against the three per cent VAT for the commission, saying that their earlier request for one per cent VAT for Lagos was rejected.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central) had sponsored a bill titled: “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.”
After the approval for the north-east, the Lagos senators addressed the press. Senators Gbenga Ashafa (APC Lagos East) and Adeola Olamilekan (APC Lagos West) said it was wrong for the Senate to approve three per cent for the north east development commission without considering Lagos.
The lawmakers, who hinted that the bill would be reintroduced in the Senate, wondered why the Senate rejected the bill.Ashafa said: “Everyone knows that 68 per cent VAT nationwide comes from Lagos. Two weeks ago, a bill by Senator Oluremi Tinibu was presented, asking the Senate to approve one per cent 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 a listening ear.
“We the contributor of 70 per cent of the vat income believe that one per cent is not too much. We are calling on the Senate to accommodate Lagos, one per cent 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,” he stated.