According to reports, the Senate yesterday passed the North-East Development Commission (NEDC) Bill which empowers the Federal Government to set up a commission to rehabilitate the Boko Haram devastated North-East region.
Strangely and interestingly, the Senate included Kano and Plateau States in the list of states to benefit from the commission’s funds for rebuilding the region, even though they are located in North-West and North-Central geopolitical zones respectively.
The decision to include Kano and Plateau in the rebuilding plan followed a protest by Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano Central) that the two states also received a series of terrorist attacks.
The Senate, in passing the NEDC bill, approved the allocation of 3per cent of the country’s Value Added Tax (VAT) to the North East Development Commission (NEDC) for a period of ten years.
The Senate also resolved the controversy surrounding the location of the headquarters of the commission, by approving that it should be sited in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
However, the the three senators representing Lagos State, kicked against the approval of the 3 per centVAT for the North-East Development Commission for 10 years, saying that earlier request for one per cent VAT for Lagos was rejected by the same chamber.
It will be recalled that Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos central), had sponsored a bill, entitled, “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”.
Unfortunately, when the bill was debated for second reading a fortnight ago, it was vehemently opposed by some senators, who argued that it would amount to giving undue advantage to Lagos over other states, resulting in the bill being killed. But after the approval for the North-East, the Lagos senators renewed its appeal, urging the Senate to accommodate Lagos State by revisiting and passing the bill into law.
The bill among others, requested the Senate to approve one per cent VAT of the Federal revenue to Lagos as a former federal capital of Nigeria.
In a joint press briefing yesterday shortly after plenary, Senators Gbenga Ashafa (APC Lagos East and Adeola Olamilekan (APC Lagos West) said it was wrong for the Senate to approve 3 per cent for the North East Development Commission without considering Lagos.
The lawmakers who hinted that the bill would be reintroduced in the Senate, said that “what is good for the goose is also good for the gander”, wondering why the senate rejected the bill.