Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, Thursday defended his counterpart in Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, saying the First Family in the Centre of Excellence did all needed to be done to prevent the recent youth protest against police brutality from degenerating into violence.
El-Rufai, who described the gravity of the destruction as “pure evil,” said he nearly shed tears as he flicked through the images of the torched Lagos assets. He said the young people who carried out the violence intentionally engaged in an act of “self-destruction,” noting that the repercussion of the action would also be felt by them.
Kaduna State governor said Lagos, which accounts for one-third of national GDP, did not deserve to suffer such pain.
Sharing his thoughts when he visited the State House in Marina to commiserate with Sanwo-Olu over the coordinated arson sparked by the #EndSARS protest, El-Rufai said those who thrive in violence infiltrated the protest to achieve their agenda of wreaking a large-scale destruction on public assets and infrastructure in Lagos.
According to him, “I have spent time to see some of the pictures of the destruction done on public properties in Lagos and I nearly shed tears. Anyone who cares about development and progress will cry after seeing what has been done to public facilities and people’s investment that provided jobs to youths.
“While expressing anger on police brutality may be right, but destroying public properties, which will have to be rebuilt using money that is needed to invest in other public infrastructure, under the guise of protest is nothing but self-destruction. The Government of Lagos State and the Federal Government will have to re-invest scarce resources that could have been used for other things to rebuild the vandalised facilities.
“As a colleague, I can confirm that governor of Lagos State did all that could be done to ensure that this destruction does not take place. It is very sad to see what had happened in Lagos. I want to assure you that we will support you getting Lagos back on track. We will do whatever support Lagos needs from us to get back better.”
El-Rufai, who said the youth protest against the police was not out of order, said it was wrong for the protesters to call for disbandment of the entire Nigeria Police Force because of the action of a few bad eggs.
He sympathised with the police and those who lost loved ones in Lagos in the wake of the violence, saying the Federal Government must not allow wanton destruction of public assets to happen again.
In his remarks, Sanwo-Olu said although Lagos State had started to look forward and engage in new partnerships towards restoring the lost assets, he vowed to make the state uncomfortable for those with the intention to destroy the state’s economy and heritage.
Despite the ugly incident that trailed the protest, Sanwo-Olu said his administration remained committed to getting justice for those who were brutalised by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) team of the police.
He thanked El-Rufai for the extension of support towards rebuilding Lagos State, welcoming all forms of assistance that could be rendered to keep the nation’s commercial nerve centre flourishing for businesses.
Sanwo-Olu, who intimated his Kaduna counterpart of steps already taken to rebuild Lagos, said his administration was doing it could to support those whose businesses were destroyed and create ambience for commercial activities to get back stronger.
Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu same Thursday charged other governors in Nigeria to look into their expenditure profile and do away with unnecessary spending to increase their states’ revenue in order to have more resources to meet the basic needs of the people.
Speaking at the 22nd Annual Tax Conference of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) held at Eko Hotel in Victoria Island, Sanwo-Olu noted the need for better utilisation of tax payers’ money by public office holders to build the trust of the citizens, adding that state executives must work toward having a better reform process.
The governor, who disclosed that he’s yet to use state resources to purchase any vehicle for himself since he assumed office as governor on May 29, 2019, said it’s not necessarily fanciful that governors must buy brand new vehicles when there’s no need for them.
“We need to look at our expenditure profile as Chief Executive of our state and ask ourselves, where can I cut the red tape; what can I do away with so as to increase the revenue of my state or even make available more money for my state.
“What I have done till date is that I have not purchased any single official vehicle for myself, for any of my personal staff or any of my family members from the government purse. If you see me have a convoy of 10 vehicles, these are all vehicles I was using during my campaigns.
“Governor Nasir el-Rufai joined me in one of my cars this morning and I can tell you that vehicle was one of the vehicles I used for my campaign; it is not brand new.
“So, I said to my people that, it is not a fanciful thing that every governor must begin to buy brand new vehicles when you do not need to. So, all of those millions have gone back into the treasury of the state and we are using it to develop the state very well,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The governor, who noted the need to increase revenue generation without totally dependent on revenue from oil, charged tax practitioners, especially members of CITN, to take leadership position and put themselves in rightful position in Nigeria to increase government revenue and change the narrative in the country.
Also speaking at the event, El-Rufai commended Sanwo-Olu’s leadership in managing the affairs of the state and his effort to rebuild Lagos after the massive destruction that marred the peaceful protests organised by the youth recently.
He said: “Whatever happens in Lagos concerns everybody because it is the economic hub of the country, while Kaduna State is the political hub. I can assure you that all the 35 governors will support your rebuilding Lagos project.”
El-Rufai, who disclosed that Nigeria is not collecting more revenue as it should collect, said Kaduna State has learned a lot from Lagos State in term of economic development and internal revenue generation (IGR), which has helped his state to reform its tax generation.
In her address, CITN President, Gladys Simplice, urged the executive arm of government to ensure that government economic policies in generating revenue are matched with tax reforms that encourage growth through executive orders and sponsorship of legislative bills capable of promoting entrepreneurship development.
She also advised the National Assembly to address the nature of the Value Added Tax (VAT) by including more items under the exemption list and giving clarity to existing ones.