There was a mild drama in the Senate on Wednesday as some Senators staged a walkout to protest the rejection of a Bill for an Act to make provisions for Federal Grants to Lagos State in recognition of its strategic socio-economic significance.
The Bill, which was sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central), was to be read for a second time after a debate but was jettisoned by the majority Senators when it was put to question by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at plenary.
Among the lawmakers sighted by LEADERSHIP reporter, who walked out of the Red Chamber after the Bill was rejected, include Senators Sam Anyanwu (PDP, Imo), Andy Uba (PDP, Anambra), Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti) and others.
The chamber was also thrown into a rowdy session over the development and it took Ekweremadu close to 10 minutes to restore normalcy.
Earlier, leading the debate, Senator Tinubu urged her colleagues to support the Bill so as to uplift the status of Lagos being the commercial nerve of the country.
“As a city which caters to the welfare of residents and visitors, Lagos is placed under a huge strain that affects its infrastructure and as welfare implications for residents and transient citizens of other states in Nigeria. Many Nigerians travelling to Lagos experienced traffic congestion because of pressures on the road. Other problems faced in Lagos include overcrowding, emergence of slumps, over stretched healthcare facilities, decrease productivity because of hours lost in traffic, environmental challenges.
“It is a advert that Lagos state has been left to deal with these pressures on its own at huge cost. The state bears the burden for the wear and tear that many of the federal revenue generating activities comes. Irrespective of its contributions to the economy, Lagos receives statutory allocations like other states often translates into meagre sums when compared with other states generating revenue oil sector.
“The Bill aims to remedy the remaining problems faced by residents and visitors in Lagos by empowering the federal government to make provisions for economic assistance through grants as provided for under section 164 sub-section (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended,” Tinubu argued.
She added that the Bill allows the grants payable to be determined by the President and Commander in Chief on the recommendation of the Governor of Lagos state with the proviso that recommends the modest amount not less than one per cent of the share of the revenue accruing to the federal government and subject to appropriation by the National Assembly.
Also contributing, Senator Solomon Olamilekan (APC, Lagos West) drew the attention of lawmakers to the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos, adding that the Bill if passed into law will not only benefit the citizens of Lagos state but the entire residents of the state, which cut across various ethnic backgrounds in the country.
For his part, Senator Barnabas Gemade, while throwing his weight behind the Bill, noted that it was the practice in most countries of the world for lawmakers to attract federal grants to their constituencies and urged his colleagues to allow the Bill sail through to the next stage.
Senator Fatima Raji Rasaki (PDP, Ekiti Central) described the Bill as long overdue, pointing out that Lagos state deserves the grant as a former capital of Nigeria.
However, the atmosphere in the chamber became charged when the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Sola Adeyeye (APC, Osun) in his contribution reacted to Senator Philip Aduda’s earlier plea that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) be considered for the same privilege. Adeyeye demanded 13 per cent derivation for Lagos as being enjoyed by the Niger Delta states, arguing that 1 per cent was too small.
He further stated that the FCT has enjoyed so much attention from the Federal Government, describing the nation’s capital as a “rotten pampered child,” a comment that did not go down well with others, which resulted into a rowdy session.
Coincidentally, the Deputy Senate President put the Bill to question after Adeyeye’s submissions and it was voted against.