Lagos At 45: Our State Long Over Due For Special Status, Says
The series of programmes drawn up to commemorate the 45th
Anniversary of the creation of Lagos State came to a glorious
end on Sunday with the Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN)
restating that the State was long overdue for a Special
Governor Fashola, who spoke at an Anniversary Dinner to round off the programmes at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, said for too long Lagos has borne the burden of national development with little to show for it. According to him, the population of the State, consisting of people from all tribes and tongue in Nigeria, has put enormous pressure on existing infrastructure in the State built with tax payers' money even as the Federal Government collects all the taxes accruing from the numerous industries in the State.
Addressing an audience of eminent elder statesmen, former governors of the State, eminent Lagosians including Traditional Rulers and Clerics, Governor Fashola noted that the scale of human activity and the challenges of an ever burgeoning population in Lagos was unmatched by any other State in the country.
According the to the Governor, aside the fact that the State generates more taxes, either as company tax or VAT from the no less than 2, 000 industrial concerns and more than 10, 000 commercial ventures than any other state in the Federation, the revenue allocation results do not reflect the contribution by Lagos..
"Lagos has always been the destination of choice not only in Nigeria but also in the West African sub-region and beyond for all who seek greener pastures and better opportunities", Governor Fashola said adding that in other countries where national capitals have been moved, the national government does not abdicate its responsibilities to the former host.
"This is because often times, the former capital still hold some historical, cultural and socio-economic relevance", the Governor said citing Germany and Brazil which did not abandon their former capitals when they moved to their new capitals but continued to make significant investment to sustain them.
"I once read that Lagos is to the people of Nigeria what the head is to the body of an individual, I beg to differ. It goes beyond argument that Lagos is to Nigeria what the neck is to the body because where the neck turns, the head goes.
The Governor said aside economic contributions; Lagos was home to the nationalist struggles for the decolonization of Nigeria and the birth place of political ideology adding, "Every Political ideology has found expression in Lagos. Lagos has been home to Marxists, Socialists, Liberals and Conservatives. Lagos is where Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa found their voices and became heroes that we speak of with such reverence.
"The hallmark of Lagos was and still is our ability to absorb and accommodate many peoples, languages, cultural and ideological influences. We have done so from time immemorial and it is a development to which there is no predictable end", the Governor said.
Describing Lagos as a melting pot of the nation, Governor Fashola noted, "This is not a political matter. It transcends party affiliation and it transcends tribe and tongue. Indeed, it has been said that if you cannot find somebody who looks like your kinsman in Lagos, you better go back to where you came from".
"Is it therefore fair to continue to turn a blind eye and treat Lagos so unfairly", the Governor asked adding, "In my view, the descendants of Olofin deserve a better deal".
Enumerating other ill-treatments being meted to Lagos by the Central Government, Governor Fashola who recalled that the last election returned 1, 281, 688 votes for the President, declared, "Our nominees to offices for national appointments are not only constantly rebuffed, non-indigenes are appointed to represent us in some cases and we are generally under-represented in the National Government".
"Our properties have been seized and disposed of, our land pilloried, partitioned without our consent, our wells and waterways polluted by oil and petrol in order to transport and supply petroleum products to all our brothers and sisters across Nigeria. Our roads have short life spans because of the unbearable tonnage they are subjected to in order for goods to move from our port to all parts of the country", the Governor said.
Recalling the statement of General Murtala Mohammed when his administration decided to move the nation's capital from Lagos to Abuja, Governor Fashola reminded the Federal Government that the late former Head of State, in fact, designated Lagos a Special Area when the General said there was need for the Federal Government to maintain a special defense and security arrangement.
According to the Governor, the late Head of State acknowledged that Lagos would remain the nation's commercial capital and one of its nerve centres even as he recognized that it would be a burden to leave Lagos alone to service the infrastructure left by the Federal Government adding that "the committed amount of money and efforts required would be such that Lagos State would not be able to cope".
He quoted the late Head of State, "It will even be unfair to expect the State to bear this heavy burden on its own. It is therefore necessary for the Federal Government to continue to sustain the substantial investment in the area. The port facilities and other activities in the Lagos area have to be expanded".
Pointing out that this is the time to right the wrong of the past, Governor Fashola declared, "Lagos is a source of pride, a shining model of self-sufficiency and a worthy example follow. We deserve no less than that special status because we have proved ourselves worthy. It is a matter of pride. Lagos is the flagship, the living room that the visitor to our home, Nigeria, first enters".
"We deserve that special; status because beyond the promise, we have proved ourselves worthy of being special. We are to Nigeria what Accra is to Ghana, what New York is to America, what London is to Britain and what Paris is to France", the Governor said adding that Lagos remains special "in the boundless energies and opportunities that are available to people from all walks of life to prosper".
Governor Fashola paid glowing tribute to his predecessors from Brigadier General Mobolaji Johnson to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the founders of Lagos "for a job well done", adding, "They built an enduring legacy and left a burning and bright torch that I am proud to hold aloft".
Highlights of the event included a colloquium on the theme of the commemoration, "From Colony to Mega City" which had illuminating presentations from former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Lagos State, Mr. Olasupo Shasore SAN and Professor Akeem Danmole of the Lagos State University and a documentary also showing the stages of development in the life of Lagos State since.
Also present at the occasion were the First Lady, Dame Emmanuella Abimbola Fashola, the Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, members of the State Executive Council, members of the State House of Assembly, Senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Inumidun Enitan Akande and other legislators, Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, former Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Olayinka, Traditional Rulers and Body of Permanent Secretaries as well as captain of Industries, former Lagos Military Administrators, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe and Commodore Ndubuisi Kanu, the first elected Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, and other top government functionaries.