Senate approves 3% VAT allocation to fund North-East development

Lagos senators kick, insist on special status

The Senate on Thursday passed the North-East Development Commission (NEDC) Bill into law, empowering the Federal Government to set up the Commission that would rebuild the North-East in the wake of Boko Haram insurgency.

The lawmakers, in passing the bill, provided for the commission to take care of the six states in the North-East geopolitical zones, including  Yobe,  Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba.

The lawmakers also included Kano and Plateau States in the commission as a result of what was called special consideration in view of series of devastations also suffered by the two states in the hands of the insurgents.

The Senators agreed to include Kano and Plateau in the North-East rebuilding plan as a result of a protest by Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, who complained that the two states were severally attacked by the insurgents.

The bill provides that the commission’s headquarters should be located in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital  and should be funded with a three per cent allocation from proceeds of Value Added (VAT).

But the Senators representing the three Senatorial Districts of Lagos State, on Thursday, protested the approval granted to the North-East, while insisting on a legislative approval of special status for the state.

The lawmakers, who addressed Senate Correspondents in Abuja, also vowed to re-introduce the recently rejected bill seeking the approval of one per cent grant to Lagos from the VAT.

Senator Gbenga Ashafa, who addressed newsmen on behalf of the lawmakers, on Thursday, said it was injustice for Lagos, which generates 70  of the Value Added Tax (VAT) in the country, and yet was denied a one per cent special grant.

He said the Senators would reintroduce the bill presented to the red chamber by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, seeking one per cent grant to Lagos from the VAT.

The bill was rejected by the Senate, after the debate of its general principles.

Addressing newsmen after plenary on Thursday, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, said Lagos generates 70 per cent of Nigeria’s total VAT revenue, adding that it was therefore proper to grant the state one per cent for infrastructural development.

“It is Lagos that generates 70 per cent of the nation’s VAT and the 1per cent we are demanding is for infrastructural development, so it is in the interest of the entire nation,” he said.

“If the Senate will approve Kano and Plateau states as part of North-East Development Commission because of attacks which was considered on special grounds, why can’t the Senate do the same thing to Lagos?” Senator Ashafa said rhetorically.

He added that Lagos, beingNigeria’s former Federal Capital has been under special infrastructure pressure that which deserves special intervention.

Senator Ashafa appealed to the Senate to have a rethink on the bill seeking special status for Lagos, adding that as representatives of the people, their constituents have reignited the agitation.