The Lagos State government has lashed out at Vice President Namadi Sambo for claiming that people were fleeing the state due to heavy taxation.
In a statement Monday, the state government said the vice president and the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP-led federal government resorted to such claims since they do not have a viable message for the people of Lagos State.
“The fact remains that Lagos, the economic and social hub of not just Nigeria, but the entire West African sub-region, continues to attract an inflow of people like the bee to the honey, in pursuit of their means of livelihood daily,” said Lateef Raji, Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to Governor Babatunde Fashola.
“For whatever it is worth, Arch. Namadi Sambo deserves to be pitied. If his itinerary coming on this trip in an election year had included the inspection, not even commissioning, of any ongoing ambitious programmes or projects initiated by the Federal Government for the good of the people of Lagos State, he may have been better preoccupied and avoided the gaffe.”
During the PDP’s reconciliation meeting in Lagos last week, Mr. Sambo had also claimed that the Lagos State government was misleading the people of the state by claiming ownership of federal government projects.
“Lagos has for years been yearning for change from the burden of excessive taxation and squandering, you all know about,” Mr. Sambo had told a gathering of PDP chieftains in Lagos.
“Today, people are leaving Lagos. The huge resources accruing to the state are used to the detriment of the good people of Lagos State.
“We are poised more than ever before to rescue Lagosians from the bondage and sufferings of taking back with the left hand and then, taking it away by the right hand.”
In its statement on Monday, the Lagos State government maintained that it had since realized the need to depend less on federal allocation in order to meet its responsibilities.
“Measures were (then) introduced to drive efficiency in the tax assessment and collection regimes by effectively plugging loopholes and leakages in the system,” Mr. Raji said.
“The result was the leap in the accruable to the coffers of the State Government. With this enhanced revenue profile, the government embarked on ambitious infrastructure upgrades to meet the critical areas of need like never experienced before.
“At any given time, not less than two hundred roads, not leaving out those of the Federal Government, are being executed.”
Mr. Raji said that testimonials of the state government’s achievement abound all over the state and not merely “on the tube and the press.”
“Without doubt, Sambo himself would have, during this visit, marvelled at the new look of Lagos even if he moved around all of his time in the city flying a helicopter,” Mr. Raji said.
“To cut the story short, the confidence level in the government appreciated significantly and a symbiotic relationship evolved, a government and its people became development partners. The ordinary people even keyed into the system voluntarily bringing down the cost of tax administration and enforcement.
“The lesson for the Federal Government in all of these is that if the Presidency can summon the will power to rein in its members and ensure that oil receipts and accruals from other revenue heads are properly accounted for and remitted to the Federation Accounts, Nigeria would be better and the citizens would be happy.
Mr. Raji further said that the nation’s economy would not be in its present “sorry state” if the federal government had ensured its officials were not profligate.
“The Vice President is not known for courting controversies, but as a junior partner in Nigeria’s uninspiring Presidency, he cannot but speak during public engagements. Rather than join the gabby gang in Abuja, simple greetings and a few compliments will do instead of making non-residential claims that are lacking in facts,” said Mr. Raji.
“If it is anything to do with Lagos, the State Government will readily avail him of accurate data that could assist him to make informed deductions.
“Now that he is back in Abuja, he can share his Lagos experience with his principal and impress on him without delay that the little sunshine left out there is still sufficient to hang fabrics out to dry.”