Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) Monday addressed the state House of Assembly, lamenting the decline in monthly allocations due to the state from the Federation Accounts.
He was accompanied by the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Ben Akabueze, his finance counterpart, Mr. Ayo Gbeleyi and Commissioner for Special Duties, Wale Ahmed, among others.
The governor, who addressed the lawmakers during plenary, explained that the National Economic Council meeting which ought to be on a monthly basis has not been held for six months.
According to him, in almost 14 years of our democratic experience, the first time that commissioners for finance walked out of Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) in Abuja was in 2011.â€
He, thus, recalled that there was similar occurrence of commissioner of finance walking out during Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) in 2013, noting that the account â€œwill not be settled. The pattern has continued especially in the second half last year through January. The only bleep of stability was in February.â€
The governor stressed on the decline in revenue, explaining that some states â€œhave resorted to borrowing in an attempt to keep government running unhindered. Some factors responsible for the decline include uncoordinated and discretionary application of the federal government on waiver and fiscal policy as well as decline on oil production, pipeline vandalism and oil theft.
Meanwhile, the Fashola will today at the premises of the Lagos Television in Ikeja kick off perhaps the most ambitious housing development programme by any Nigerian government in over a decade.
Known as the Lagos State Home Ownership Scheme (Lagos Homs), the scheme seeks to make people resident in Lagos become owners of about 4,000 flats in the next few months, with the first 200 emerging today.
Fashola told THISDAY in an exclusive telephone conversation that between 200 and 300 homes would be won every month, assuring Lagosians that the practice would continue even after he leaves office in May next year.
He explained that only persons who have never owned any house in the state would be allowed to bid for the homes, saying such people must show evidence of tax payment in the last five years and evidence of having lived in Lagos for at least 180 days.
Winners are required to make a down payment 30 per cent of the mortgage sum, and can pay the rest at the rate of 9.8 per cent within at least 10 years.
â€œThese terms are very, very favourable in a country where the minimum mortgage interest is right now 11 per cent if the tenure is as short as four years,â€ said Emeka Eriobuna, the managing partner of a leading property firm in Abuja.
Fashola also disclosed that home winners would enjoy a 25 per cent discount across the board on the land, infrastructure and building and costs of the homes.
About 132 units of the homes would be located in Iponri, 72 in Ibeshe Ikorodu, 420 in Badagry, 648 in Sangotedo Phase 11, 216 in Obele, 36 in Akerele Phase 11, 48 in Oyingbo, 1,254 in Ilubrin, and 1,080 in Ijora Badia.
The governor advised interested individuals to apply for houses built in areas where they want to live.
â€œIf you live in Yaba or Surulere and apply for a home in the peninsula with a view to giving it out so as to make a profit, you will be penalised,â€ he stated.
He said practices like this would undermine the objective of this scheme which, according to him, saw the committee hold 27 â€œrobust meetings in the last three years.â€
He added: â€œIf we wanted to make profits, we would simply have decided to sell off the houses in batches to the highest bidders and make our money.â€
Revealing that the homes are built with purely internally-generated revenue and taxes paid by Lagosians as well as high savings made from prudent financial management, Fashola said the homes would be of two designs: a block of four floors with 12 flats comprising one of one, two and three-bedroom on each floor and a block of two units of two bedroom flats.
â€œIt is impressiveâ€, remarked Emeka Onuorah, erstwhile president of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers who has been monitoring the programme, â€œ that the state government has in designing and implementing the scheme been consciousness of the need for ample space in each of the home locations.
â€œIt is good that Fashola benefitted from the lessons of the Lateef Jakande mass housing scheme in the Second Republic and the housing development programme in Singapore when Lee Kuan Yew was the prime minister, and has embarked on state of the art homes which meet international standards.â€
Fashola promised that the homes would be given to the public in a most transparent manner.
â€œEverything will be done online as much as possible because we want to minimise contact with our staff because of the problem of human element.
â€œOur rules will be applied religiously, and this is why if we discover even in the 10th year that a person who already has a house in Lagos, whether obtained from the government or through his or her own effort, will automatically loose it.â€
Caption: President Goodluck Jonathan
Amaechi: Centenary Celebrations Ended Without the People
Gunmen kill lawmaker in Rivers
Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, has warned that the country is drifting towards a dangerous waterfall and the nationâ€™s leaders appear not to be concerned about the situation, observing that the federal government is celebrating 100 years of the countryâ€™s unification without the active participation of the Nigerian people.
Amaechi spoke Monday in Port Harcourt while delivering an address on the countryâ€™s centenary and state of the nation to the state House of Assembly.
He said the apathy was as a result of the state of the economy and the security challenges in some parts of the country, which had claimed hundreds of lives.
According to Amaechi, â€œIn the last few days, Abuja has been celebrating a hundred years of our unification. Nigeria at 100 years old is a milestone and should provide us all a time to reflect on where we have been, where we are now and where we are headed.
â€œAs Nigerians first, and more importantly as leaders with the responsibility of bequeathing a functional and prosperous nation where no man, woman, child, aged, strong, weak, able-bodied or person with special needs is oppressed, our 100th birthday must be a time we should pause and ask if indeed we have kept our side of the bargain.
â€œFor one, it must have gone down as a memorable one for its exclusiveness.
Even in Abuja, most Nigerians who ordinarily would have been the chief celebrants went about their daily chores, while the others struggled at petrol stations trying to fill their tanks almost completely oblivious of the trappings of what should have been a grand announcement of our coming of age.
â€œEven the very city of Abuja wore no look to herald such an epoch celebration. Not surprisingly though, the event of last week fit tightly into the pattern of celebrations in the last few years. Gradually, but noticeably, Nigerians appear to have lost our appetite to celebrate anything.
â€œEmbedded in our newfound affinity for low key celebrations and an infinite state of sober reflection is the true state of the nation.
â€œCan we really celebrate when our children are being slaughtered while at school? Can we really celebrate when our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters are being slaughtered like chicken? Can we really celebrate when our fellow citizens live in constant and growing fear of kidnappers, hired assassins and armed robbers?
â€œCan we really celebrate when those constitutionally empowered to protect us turn their fury on us? In these questions lie the state of the nation.
â€œWhere is the country headed? Where will the country be in another hundred years? What legacy are we leaving behind for our children? Sadly as leaders, we must admit the truth, which stares us in the face: It is a fact that our country is drifting perceptibly into a dangerous waterfall.â€
Amaechi said his administration had battled with challenges posed by dwindling revenue from the federation account and security challenges posed by politicians.
He said: â€œHere in our state we have wrestled with these challenges. As honourable members of this assembly, you bear testimony to this fact. You have moved your chambers as a result of the harrowing events of July 9th and 10th 2013.
â€œOur state which was beginning to recover from the haemorrhage caused by criminality disguising as militancy was suddenly plunged back into crises by a tiny group of selfish and greedy politicians.
â€œAs you are aware, we have continued to witness a dwindling of our monthly allocation to the state as a result of shortfalls in allocation from the Federation Account. The federal government has said that the shortfall is caused by oil theft.
â€œYet one is at sea over the confusion among key members of this administration about the account of our state of affairs. In what serious country would you see a commanding height institution such as the NNPC trapped in an infinitely revolving door of accusations of corruption, yet those whose responsibility it is to act simply look on as if under a spell or simply couldnâ€™t be bothered.â€
Amaechi accused the federal government of not telling the people the truth about the state of the economy.
He said: â€œWhile Nigeria bleeds and is in a near state of coma from crude oil thieves and thieves of crude oil money, this administration tells us fairy tales of a strong economy.
â€œWhile we feel the unmistakable tremors of a wobbling economy, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy continues to sing loudly to disguise the stuttering of an economy that is about to break down.
â€œWhile millions of our young ones are roaming the streets, this administration feeds us with the tales of burger flipping jobs it has created through its â€˜Sure-Pâ€™ and â€˜YouWinâ€™ programmes.
â€œWhile students around the world are in school bracing up for the mind-twisting challenges of the 21st century, our polytechnic students are at home wondering whether they will ever go back to school, their counterparts in our universities just returned to school after spending six months at home.
â€œAn American once said that if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. When will the coordinating minister and her economic team stop digging and get us out of the hole? When will this administration understand that no economic revolution has been done on the power of candle light and â€˜I pass my neighbour generatorsâ€™?
â€œWhen will this administration understand that an economic system that breeds inequality is raking hot coal in its bosom?â€
He said the questions as to where the nation was heading are pertinent as the administration was coming to an end and new leaders would be elected.
â€œThey (the questions) are key, because our nation is dangerously weak and to fiddle with it, as is currently being done may bring in a whirlwind whose destination no one can tell.
â€œThey are key as Nigerians prepare to talk about our nation and where it should be heading to in a National Conference whose agenda we pray is not premeditated and whose outcome we hope is not already pre-determined,â€ he said.
Amaechi noted that his administration had given thought to questions about the future and was â€œstriving to provide those answers that are within our control and purview as we continue with our people-focused projects such as education, human capacity building and development, health care, public infrastructure and job creationâ€.
â€œWe remain committed to supporting our security agencies to ensure the safety of lives and property as we work on our determination to improve our state, propelling it to become the foremost destination to live, work and do business in Nigeria,â€ he said.
Amaechiâ€™s speech to the Riversâ€™ parliament came on the heels of an incident involving the killing Sunday night of a serving member of the legislative assembly in Akuku-Toru Local Government Council of the state, Hon. Sotonye Melford Georgewill, in Port Harcourt.
Sources said Georgewill was killed by unknown assailants at about 9 pm, along Accra Street, near the Lagos Bus Stop in the Old Port Harcourt Township area of the state.
A source said: â€œSotonye came out of his house to answer someone that had called him on the phone and said he was waiting in front of the house.
â€œOn getting to the car that was waiting in front of his house, two men came out and one of them stabbed him on the chest and he fell on the ground immediately. The killers then shot into the air to scare people away before escaping.â€
He said some police officers in a white van came minutes after the incident to take the corpse away.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Tunde Ogunsakin, confirmed the incident but said the killing was cult-related and that he had mobilised his men to go after all known gang members in the state, especially their leaders and sponsors.
â€œWe are aware of the incident and it was a sad thing. We have established that it was a cult-related case and I have ordered my men to identify and arrest all known cult leaders in the state immediately. We shall deal ruthlessly with anybody caught, regardless of his ir her status,â€ he warned.
But as the news of the death of the politician spread, the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claimed the late Georgewill was a member of the PDP and blamed the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the incident.
A statement issued by Mr. Jerry Needam, special adviser to the state PDP Chairman, Chief Felix Obuah, said the party was disturbed that the incident was happening a few days after the kidnap of three stalwarts of the party who are still being held captive.
â€œWe condemn these inhuman and lawless acts in their entirety and call for an immediate stop of the senseless insurgency and also appeal to the security agencies to wake up to the challenges posed by these undesirable elements and enemies of the state,â€ the PDP said.