The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday voted against a bill seeking special status and federal grant for Lagos State. The bill sponsored by Oluremi Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress Senator representing Lagos Central, was rejected on Wednesday after failing a voice vote called by Ike Ekweremadu. Consequently, the bill, SB 112, failed to scale second reading for committee stage.
It sought one per cent of federally generated revenue as special grant for Lagos State in view of the former Nigeria capital’s socio-economic significance. According to the official Twitter of the upper legislative chamber, the bill didn’t pass the second reading. It was rejected after failing a voice vote called by Ike Ekweremadu.
WSJ reports that it was drama galore on the floor of the Senate as the subtitle conspiracy against the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu came to the fore as debate for the desirability or otherwise of a special status for Lagos State raged on the floor of the Senate. It was like a case of PDP agaist the APC as PDP speakers except Senator Raji-Rasaki who was first lady in Lagos State for about four years, spoke against the idea. Former Governor of Sokoto State, Wammako, of APC said the bill should be killed for coming at a wrong time. He said, Lagos State was about the only viable states in the country today while every other state could barely pay salaries. He pointed out that it would amount to making the rich state to be richer and the poor states to be poorer if the bill should scale through the second reading.
Senator Barnabas Gemade of APC from Benue State explained why the bill should be given favorable consideration given the important position of Lagos state in the socio-economic life of the country. He noted that every state of the federation was represented in Lagos with its attendant socio-economic implications on the resources of the state. He drew some analogy from the US where Nigeria copied its brand of democracy from, saying one state in the US generates $30b revenue from sea port charges alone while another one generates $15b from airport charges alone all of which are approximated by the Federal government in Nigeria. He however, called for true federalism in which case every state would be entitled to the resources generated from its domain while royalty is paid to the Federal Government.
Senators from Cross Rivers and FCT also said they would only support the bill on the condition that same treatment would apply to their respective state and Territory. Senator Aduba to the chagrin of other members noted that FCT also deserved special status as the Territory was in dire need of infrastructural upliftment. He said the territory should be given special allocation from the federation account as the nation’s seat of power.
The notion apparently drew the ire of the Senate Chief Whip, Adeyeye who described the FCT as a spoilt brat that needed no such privilege. The outburst elicited an uproar from the PDP Senators who demanded an apology from the Chief Whip for such an unguarded statement. The presiding officer, Ike Ikeremadu who winked to Senator Aduba to maintain his cool as he was apparently on his side, took advantage of the near commotion in the senate to kill the bill by calling for a voice vote at a time most Senators particularly from the North were enraged by the Senator Adeyeye’s outburst. The result of the vote was an overwhelming No to kill the bill abruptly as expeccted.
WSJ reports the apparent indiscipline in the Senate as the house was rowdy . Ikeremadu who presided over the affairs of the senate as Bukola Saraki was at the CCT trial, had an Herculean task bringing sanity back to the house as members stood in groups of three or four having side discussions while the acting president was calling for order to no avail.