Why I refused to acquire new vehicles as governor ― Sanwo-Olu
• Urges tax professionals to occupy leadership positions for increased revenue
Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday, charged governors across the country to look into their expenditure profile and do away with unnecessary spending, disclosing that he was yet to purchase any vehicle for himself since he assumed office as governor on May 29, 2019, as he considered it not necessary.
Sanwo-Olu made this call while speaking at the 22nd Annual Tax Conference of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) held at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island in Lagos, saying doing away with unnecessary spending would enable them to increase state revenues for government to have more resources to meet the basic needs of the people.
Stressing the need for better utilisation of taxpayers’ money by public office holders to enable them to build the trust of the citizens, the governor said state executives must work toward having a better reform process.
Sanwo-Olu said he was yet to use state resources to purchase any vehicle for himself since he assumed office as governor on May 29, 2019, as “it is not a fanciful thing that every governor must begin to buy brand new vehicles when you do not need to.”
The governor added that he had also not considered it necessary to purchase any single official vehicle for any of his personal staff or any of his family members from the government purse since he assumed office, saying that those vehicles he still moves around with were ones he used for his campaigns.
“We need to look at our expenditure profile as Chief Executive of our state and ask ourselves, where can I cut the red tape; what can I do away with so as to increase the revenue of my state or even make available more money for my state.
“What I have done till date is that I have not purchased any single official vehicle for myself, for any of my personal staff or any of my family members from the government purse. If you see me have a convoy of 10 vehicles, these are all vehicles I was using during my campaigns.
“Governor Nasir el-Rufai joined me in one of my cars this morning and I can tell you, that vehicle was one of the vehicles I used for my campaign; it is not brand new.
“So, I said to my people that, it is not a fanciful thing that every governor must begin to buy brand new vehicles when you do not need to. So, all of those millions have gone back into the treasury of the state and we are using it to develop the state very well,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The governor, who stressed the need to increase revenue generation without totally dependent on revenue from oil, charged tax practitioners, especially members of CITN, to take a leadership position and put themselves in rightful position in Nigeria to increase government revenue and change the narrative in the country.
Speaking at the event, Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, commended his Lagos counterpart, Sanwo-Olu’s leadership in managing the affairs of the state and his effort to rebuild it after the massive destruction that marred the peaceful protests organised by the youth recently.
The governor noted that whatever happened in Lagos concerns everyone in the country, assuring that all other governors in Nigeria would rally in support of “rebuilding Lagos project.”
“Whatever happens in Lagos concerns everybody because it is the economic hub of the country while Kaduna State is the political hub. I can assure you that all the 35 governors will support your rebuilding Lagos project,” he assured.
El-Rufai, who disclosed that the country was not collecting more revenue as it should collect, said Kaduna had learned a lot from Lagos in term of economic development and internal revenue generation (IGR), which had helped his state to reform its tax generation.
The President of CITN, Dame Gladys Simplice, in her address, urged the executive arm of government to ensure that government economic policies in generating revenue were matched with tax reforms that encourage growth through Executive orders and sponsorship of legislative bills capable of promoting entrepreneurship development.
She also advised the National Assembly to address the nature of the Value Added Tax (VAT) by including more items under the exemption list and giving clarity to existing ones.