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VAT ISSUE: Lagos State and Tinubu phenomenon (INSIGHT INTO HOW TINUBU TURNS AROUND LAGOS FORTUNES)

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Since the VAT conversation began few days ago, I have read a lot. Many said Lagos, Rivers, Abuja, Kano and Kaduna states were directly and indirectly developed by either Federal or Regional governments of the past. Hmm! It sounds good and true to some extent.

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But let me start with a Yoruba proverb that says, “TI A BA BI NI, A N TURA ENIBI NI” literarily means when you are born, then you need to reborn your self through personal efforts.

Let me kick off with this by laying some facts bare, one after the other. As at 1999, Lagos state and all other states were on the same level. What exactly is the magic? Please follow me.

1. When Tinubu won the 1999 governorship election and was given the certificate of return by INEC, he setup a broad committee to look into LAGOS STATE, past, present and future. All this happened before he was sworn in as Governor.

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2. The committee presented their report and it was 25-Year LAGOS MEGACITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN. A comprehensive development blueprint to develop the entire Lagos state from EPE to BADAGRY, in all areas and sectors of Lagos lives.

3. He received the report as swung into action. He discovered in the report that POWER is essential to power the industries in Lagos state, so he partnered with ENRON on IPP and ENRON brought power plant badge to Lagos and birthed well. But OBJ stopped it. That was the beginning of animosity between Tinubu and OBJ.

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4. A spectacular thing Tinubu did was to recognize the importance of INFORMATION i.e. information gathering, processing, interpretation and dissemination. Therefore, he embarked on robust IT INFRASTRUCTURES and SOLUTION deployment. Those who can remember ORACLE Center within Alausa back then can bear me witness. Nigerian Professionals from CANADA, US, UK were brought in and started coding.

5. When Lagos civil servants saw that Tinubu has come to disrupt their plans, they refused to cooperate. Tinubu didn’t fight them, he simply employed CONSULTANTS for all ministries and worked with few that cooperated. That is what birthed all AGENCIES (LASSA, LAWMA, LAWA, etc) you see all over Lagos state today. Tinubu never stopped their salary, he simply created a replacement within the system to bypass their bureaucracy in order not to distract him.

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6. In that first year, Tinubu was called “BABA GO SLOW” Why? Because there was no visible activities on ground apart from ORACLE. CENTER and the deployment of IT infrastructures in all 20 local government and linked them to Alausa. During period, Tinubu was busy collecting data. DATA! DATA!! DATA!!!

7. Tinubu released data enumerators in Lagos, they were busy capturing data of many types, company data, association data, even PROPERTY data. That is, there was PROPERTY CENSUS in Lagos. All buildings and properties in Lagos were enumerated. As at this time, many Lagosians didn’t know what was happening.

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8. Part of the initial data on TRAFFIC was used to solve the traffic logjam on Allen and Agidingbi by introducing the road median that forced everyone to remain on their lane. The success of this was replicated throughout Lagos state. Likewise educational data processing which I was directly involved in year 2000.

To cut the long story short, all these data processed into meaningful information led to the development of today’s Lagos State.

The information about Lagos and basic statistics about Lagosians, property, businesses, etc helped the TAX CONSULTANT that was employed to collect tax for and on behalf of Lagos. The state government never involved the civil servants in the IGR drive. That was what helped Lagos to increase their IGR from paltry N600million per month to N2billion in the first month of operation. Today, Lagos gross well over N30 billion monthly.

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When TINUBU saw this, they intensified their efforts and brought more to the REVENUE dragnet. He didn’t stop at that, he started LASSA on advertisement and many others. Before he could say Jack Robbinson, the IGR of Lagos started climbing. When OBJ tried his resolve by stopping monthly state allocation, he wasn’t perturbed, he just rebuffed him. He told his team that OBJ is helping them to save the money. He immediately asked his Commissioner for Justice, now Vice President Osinbajo to kick start a legal battle. As at this time, Lagos was already generating more revenue internally than the monthly allocation.

Now on VAT, Lagos via Bola Ahmed Tinubu changed the entire business landscape for tax collection generally in Lagos state which FG benefitted tremendously from it in other taxes. The Lagos of 1999 till date is not the Lagos State FG developed and left for Abuja in 90s after the Orkar Coup incidence that made IBB to run away.

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Many forgot that MAROKO and the entire today’s Lekki axis were on ground zero as at 1999. Tinubu started the NEW LAGOS DEVELOPMENT that attracted millions of Nigerians and thousands of corporate citizens to Lagos state who now increase the VAT. The entire LEKKI, IBEJU LEKKI and EKO ATLANTIC CITY were the creation of Tinubu.

Therefore, can we now say FG developed Lagos of today? Far from it. If Tinubu had behaved like his counterparts from other states in his class, Lagos would have remained the one FG left behind in early 90s.

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Consequently, Lagos state deserve to collect her CONSUMPTION TAX or VAT generated and collected in the state. Let others borrow leaves, look inward and do something positive for their state. Let us test our laws in the court for mineral resources OR mobilize NASS members to initiate bills to take control of resources in their lands. Let the CHANGE we voted for also come at the state level.

Let us stop this beggarly attitude to Abuja every month and the time starts now. This will really make us to hold our governors accountable to the resources that truly belong to the state and not the national cake being shared monthly.

(ANONYMOUS)

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Written by Adesoji OMOSEBI

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