Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode and former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke on Thursday raised alarm over the danger of abandoning Lagos State to shoulder the developmental challenges posed by incessant migration from all parts of the country alone.
Warning that the continued expansion of the 24 million population within a territorial land mass of 923, 773 square kilometres is leading to huge infrastructural deficit that federal allocations and internally generated revenue have not addressed, both urged State Governments to create productive economies to stem the drift to Lagos.
Duke spoke as the guest speaker at the LEADERSHIP 2017 Annual Conference and Awards Ceremony, organized by the Leadership Newspapers at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, where Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan received the Governor of the Year Award.
Noting that the N1.4trillion budget of the State for 2018 was too meager to fund needed infrastructures, Duke said, “the leadership at the State and Federal level must recognize that a State that contributes more than 50 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and majority of industrial activity needs urgent support.”
Accepting the awards on behalf of the Governor, Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan adopted the positions canvassed by Duke while dedicating the awards to Lagosians for working with the Ambode administration for better governance.
“Governor Ambode’s determination to put his expertise and experience at the service of the people to ensure continuous infrastructure and human development as well as sustain the economic growth of the State is not in doubt. That is his social contract with the people which he is totally committed to fulfilling,” he said.
Earlier, while declaring the Conference open, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo advocated that States must operate as if they are countries by drawing inspiration from the Western Region which executed landmark projects and programmes in the First Republic.
He said the giant strides of Lagos State since the administration of former Governor Bola Tinubu which planned the re-development of Lagos on aggressive internally generated revenue has demonstrated the importance of taxation to the provision of infrastructures.
Welcoming guests and awardees, the Chairman of Leadership Newspapers, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah urged Governors to act as the Chief Executive Officers of companies who must make profits for their firms to keep their jobs.
“The days when States would go cap in hand every month to the Federal Government will soon be over because the Federal Government itself will be too busy struggling to solve its own federal problems. The good news is that every State in Nigeria can survive as a rich entity, with a little imagination from its leaders,” Nda-Isaiah said.
Nda-Isaiah postulated that, perhaps, it might take the states to suffer some hard times in order to come to terms with the new reality.
“Lagos State found out the hard way that it could earn much more than its monthly allocations from Abuja when the then President Olusegun Obasanjo illegally impounded the monthly allocations of its local governments for selfish reasons.
“That was when the governor then, Bola Tinubu, knew the real definition of IGR. Since then, the State has not looked back,’’ he said.
He further averred that States needed to develop their own proprietary methods of boosting their IGR, noting that Lagos chose corporate taxes because that was where its advantages lay.
“It could be abundant mineral resources for some, and yet for others, it could be massive land resources. Any state government that gives the impression that it is waiting for a constitution amendment before it can take advantage of the state’s mineral resources is simply dumb.
“State Governments can apply to the Federal Government for mining leases in their states and simply become mineral-rich. The problem is that no state has been able to do this. Some states are succeeding with agriculture, especially rice cultivation using the CBN intervention funds. It is the same logic”, Nda-Isaiah said.