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Tanker explosion: Lagos gives 30 days deadline to trailer owners to get road worthiness certification

Following the tragic tanker explosion on Otedola Bridge inward Ojodu Berger along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway which claimed lives and property, the Lagos State Government on Sunday restricted movement of Fuel Tankers to designated trailer route going forward.

 

The government also said it was now mandatory for all articulated trucks coming into Lagos to obtain the Ministry of Transportation’s Road Worthiness Certificate at any of the designated centres within the next 30 days.

 

Addressing a joint press briefing at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa after meeting with all the relevant stakeholders including Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), National Association of Transport Operators (NATO), Container Truck Owners Association of Nigeria, among others, the State’s Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Ladi Lawanson, said the decision became necessary following preliminary investigations into the incident which revealed a combination of vehicular defect and human errors.

 

Lawanson said: “As an immediate response to the latest incident, the Lagos State Government hereby announces the following measures: Fuel tankers are hereby directed to ply the designated trailer route, that is, Apapa-Oworonshoki Expressway via Ogudu to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

 

“All Tankers and containers coming into Lagos State from henceforth are directed to obtain the Ministry of Transportation Certificate of Road Worthiness at any of or centres within the next 30 days, while new centres along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway will be established to quickly to cope with the expected demand for this service.”

 

He listed the 10 centres currently available to process the applications to include Berger, Ojodu; Odogunyan, Ikorodu; Agric/Ishawo Road, Ikorodu; Worksyard, PWD, Shogunle; NCI, Gbagada; VIS Yard, Oko-Afo, Badagry; VIS Yard, Ayobo-Ipaja; Test Centre, Badagry; VIS Yard, Epe; and VIS Yard, Oko-Oba Abattoir.

 

Lawanson, who addressed the briefing alongside heads of government agencies and the stakeholders, said preliminary investigation revealed that the affected tanker which exploded was registered in Nasarawa Local Government, Kano State with registration number NSR 888 YC, and had changed ownership 13 times since purchase.

 

“It (the tanker) was manufactured in 1999 by Mack Trucks Inc at its assembly plant in Winnsboro, United States. This truck was designed as a 14,959kg (approximately 15 ton) drilling rig with low bed, but it was converted in Nigeria from a drilling rig to fuel tank carrier to carry 30 tonnes.

 

“From this preliminary investigation, the truck should not have been loaded to the weight of 30 tonnes, which is twice its pulling capacity,” the Commissioner said, adding that further investigation into the current ownership of the tanker and other related details were progressing.

 

On suggestion of restriction of operation of tankers to certain hours, the Commissioner said having critically examined the issue especially considering the fact that imported petroleum products are pumped from import jetties at Atlas Cove through pipelines to Ejigbo Depots in Lagos, Mosimi (Ogun), Ibadan (Oyo), Ilorin (Kwara) and Ore (Ondo), and due to pipeline vandalism, any restriction of such would undermine supplies and threaten the wellbeing of the Nigerian economy since there is high demand for petroleum products across the country.

 

“This position has also been canvassed by the authorities in charge of the distribution of petroleum products in the consultations which followed the incident and at a time of great expectations for our economy to fully bounce back from recession, we believe that ensuring unhindered supply of petroleum products is indeed a patriotic contribution by Lagos State to the nation’s economic survival,” Lawanson said.

 

He, however, disclosed that the State Government was already exploring alternative modes of transportation of petroleum products to separate passenger traffic from cargo movements within the metropolis in the interest of the public safety and order.

 

He also said that government, in partnership with all the stakeholders, would set up joint-enforcement of the operating laws, while barriers would be installed on bridges in Lagos to prevent articulated trucks including Ojuelegba, Mobolaji Bank Anthony, Ekodeso, Abule-Egba, Lekki-Ajah, among others.

 

Giving update on the accident, Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Mr Seye Oladejo said out of the four injured persons that were taken away from the scene, one unfortunately died while government is taking full responsibility for the treatment of others.     

 

He particularly denied allegations that some victims were rejected by the General Hospital in Surulere, saying that the victims were only taken to LASUTH, Ikeja and Burns and Trauma Centre in Gbagada.

 

“When you have such incident of that magnitude, as part of our training as emergency responders, we need to be very careful the way we handle our communication so that we don’t raise unnecessary alarm. It is important for members of the public to remain calm while we get all our acts together, otherwise we would also be asking for another emergency.

 

“Altogether, nine people passed on at the incident and they were all burnt beyond recognition. We have set up a helpline at LASEMA to try and open a communication channel with members of the public and with family members of the victims. It is important that DNA is conducted otherwise we would end up giving the wrong bodies to some families to go and inter and that would become another issue entirely.

 

“This kind of situation really calls for patience and understanding on the part of members of the public and most especially families of victim. As much as we sympathize and commiserate, things still have to be done professionally. As a government, we are alive to our responsibility and the major business we have is to ensure safety of lives and property and we are committed to that. We have signed up on that, you are also aware of the massive investment of the State Government on issues bothering on emergency and response,” Oladejo said.

 

Besides, the Commissioner dismissed insinuation alleging that the integrity of Otedola Bridge had been compromised following the incident, saying there was no iota of truth in such, while government would soon fix the damaged section of the road.  

 

Lagos declares June 12 public holiday

 

The Lagos State Government on Saturday declared June 12, 2018 as public holiday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the annulled 1993 Presidential elections adjudged to be have won by the late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO)Abiola.

The State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode in a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello said the significance of June 12, 1993 elections, adjudged as the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria, would always be a reference point in the State’s quest to entrench true democracy in service to the people.

Commending President Buhari’s recent declaration of June as the new Democracy Day, the Governor said the singular act would forever ensure that Chief MKO Abiola and other martyrs of democracy who laid down their lives in the struggle to entrench good governance did not do so vain.

“On behalf of all Lagosians, we want to commend and applaud Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari for deeming it fit finally against all odds from all other past presidents that 25 years after, we are able to now celebrate our own Democracy Day and also declare that the real winner of 1993 June 12 Presidential election was actually our own MKO Abiola.

“No matter how long you try to hide history, history will always reveal itself with a true platform. So, we know that is one very important singular step as we go forward to build an enduring democracy. And for all democrats in this country, we are excited that we are moving in the right direction.

“It also affirms that Nigeria can get it right if we begin to put things in the right perspective and work for the general good of the greater number of people. That is the true essence of democracy.

“For us in Lagos, June 12 is not just a day to remember, it is a rallying point for those of us in service that we must continuously strive to entrench true democracy and good governance which is what Chief MKO Abiola totally exemplified,” Governor Ambode said.

 

African tourism ministers tour Lagos

The Lagos State Government is set to play host to African Tourism Ministers and other delegates attending the ongoing 61st meeting of United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s Commission for Africa currently holding in Abuja.

According to a statement released by the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, the “technical visit” to Lagos State is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 6th June 2017.

It stated that the visiting delegates will comprise Ministers of Tourism from African countries, top executives of United Nations World Tourism Organisation, heads of Tourism promotions agencies as well as tourism and travel stakeholders across the African continent.

The release said that the team, led by Nigeria’s Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General, will pay a courtesy visit to Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode and embark on a tour of Eko Atlantic City to witness the ongoing transformation of the waterfront area into an entirely new smart city with abundant business and tourism prospects.

The statement added that the entourage will also visit FreedomPark on Broad Street and a few other tourist attractions in the State.

“This visit by the African Tourism Ministers and other delegates to Lagos State is yet another golden opportunity to market our great State to the world and to express our commitment to the initiative that Africa must first and foremost appreciate and promote its incomparable beauty through domestic tourism before the rest of the world can celebrate us,” Ayorinde said.

Nigeria won the bid to host the elite gathering of African tourism policy formulators and regulators in the Federal Capital Territory while Lagos State, being a leading tourism haven in West Africa as well as a key partner of the Federal Government is playing host to the visitors.

 

Lagos IGR now N34bn monthly, says commissioner

The Lagos State Government on Monday said that it has so far achieved an average monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N34billion in 2018 compared to monthly averages of the last three years.

Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade who disclosed this at the ongoing annual Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the third anniversary of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration held at Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, attributed the gradual improvement to the impact of the ongoing reforms and growth in the State’s economy.

He said, “Notably, we are recording gradual improvement in our average monthly IGR in 2018 compared to the levels achieved in previous years due to the impact of ongoing reforms and growth in the State’s economy. Based on our first quarter results, Lagos State has so far achieved an average monthly IGR of N34billion in 2018 compared to monthly averages of N22bn, N24bn and N30bn in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.”

The Commissioner expressed optimism that the IGR would continue to rise even further as the State continues to implement the various reforms, driven by wider technology adoption and innovation, adding that the target to grow the State’s IGR to N50bn by next year was well on course.

“The target we set for ourselves is N50billion but we all know the kind of push backs we have experienced including people going to court and all that. Our commitment is not for now, its for the future of Lagos. We know it’s a marathon, we would win some and we would lose some, but we are very committed towards ensuring that we meet the target, but if we don’t meet it this year, definitely there would be another year, but we believe we would succeed in that target we set for ourselves,” Ashade said.

On Federal Transfers, he said since Lagos joined the league of oil producing State, the Government had received a total of N327million revenue, comprising N197million and N130million received in 2017 and first quarter of 2018 respectively.

“Furthermore, we are in ongoing discussions with the Federal Government towards obtaining a refund for expenditure totalling N51billion that was incurred by the State Government on behalf of the Federal Government for infrastructure projects developments in the State. We are optimistic of successful discussions that will result in the approval and payment of the amount owed to the State Government by the Federal Government,” he said.

Giving an update on the State’s Debt Profile, Ashade said the Government’s debt stock, comprising 48 per cent local debt and 52 per cent foreign debt currently stood at N874.38billion at the end of 2017 while the debt service charge to total revenue ratio which stood at 17.61 per cent was still within the World Bank threshold of 30 per cent.

The Commissioner said the State Government has continued to maintain a positive credit rating, however, adding that a downgrade of Nigeria’s sovereign rating would lead to a corresponding action on Lagos’ international drawing rights.

“As Nigeria continues to improve on its credit rating, we would be able to achieve better rating as we currently have because no amount of revenue generation, no amount of employment growth of Lagos State can make us surpass to surpass the sovereign rating,” he said.

He, however, said that the State Government has taken some strategic steps to help Nigeria improve on its ratings including adhering to fiscal discipline, improved revenue generation, reforms in infrastructure development, transport and embedded power.

Giving an update on the revised Land Use Charge (LUC), Ashade said the State Government has continued to engage critical stakeholders in line with its tradition of inclusive governance, adding that a wide range of response have been received.

He said the extensive discussions led to several concessions on Land Use charge for property owners across board, adding that a revised bill to further amend the LUC Law to incorporate the additional concessions was presently before the House of Assembly and would be passed soon.

Besides, the Commissioner said the Government through the LUC Assessment Appeal Tribunal, received a total of 1,503 complaints, out of which 1,113 were successfully resolved administratively and through mediation, adding that an additional 263 property owners/agents had their grievances resolved in the last two weeks and more still ongoing.

Ashade also urged residents to continue to support the government by fulfilling their civic duty of paying their taxes and remitting all taxes collected on behalf of the Government as and when due, assuring that the present administration was committed to maintaining financial accountability and transparency for the overall development and prosperity of the State.

Air passengers, commuters stranded as Lagos blocks major roads over Buhari’s visit

Many residents of Lagos are groaning as a result of the vehicular restriction on major roads in the state, compounding the traffic gridlock in the metropolitan city.

The roads were blocked because of President Muhammadu Buhari’s two-day visit to the state.

As part of measures to control the traffic situation, the Lagos state government declared Thursday a work-free day.

It also announced that roads leading to some of the projects the president would inaugurate would be shut.

The projects are the Lekki Deep Sea, Eko Atlantic City, Ikeja Bus Terminus, among others.

But residents who woke up as early as 4am where still trapped as commercial buses and other unauthorised vehicles were restricted from plying the Agege Motor Road, Airport Road, Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way, Eko Hotel Round about and different spots in the city.

Security operatives also mounted strategic places around the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, and various locations across the state.

Banners and billboards with the president’s photographs were also put up along the roads, while many of his supporters lined across the roads.

Most of the passengers trekked long distance before getting to the airport.

Some airlines had to delay their flights to enable passengers meet up. In a statement, Air Peace said the traffic diversion was affecting its operation. The airline also empathized with its passengers.

“We empathise with our esteemed guests who are having a challenge accessing the airport to catch their flights due to the diversion of traffic at various points In Lagos,” the statement read.

“This is currently affecting flights out of our base in Lagos despite the availability and readiness of our crew to operate their flights.

“We urge our valued guests to remain calm, while we monitor the development and take steps to minimise the impact of the resulting flight disruptions.”

Kehinde Adebowale, a Lagos resident said that she trekked a distance of two kilometers on her way to work on Thursday.

“I trekked from Ile-Zik after Cement Bus Stop to Alausa (a journey of three kilometres). I have not done such since I started working five years ago,” she said.

“No matter the excuse given, it’s not fair for us to be treated like this because of one man. Just one man.”

Ayebo Olubunmi, another resident, lamented the effect of the closure of major roads on people during Easter period.

“I am supposed to go to church in Yaba but I am trapped in Egbeda just because Mr President is inaugurating some projects. Is he greater than God?” she asked.

“How on earth could they have disrupted our plans because of a man who is supposed to be serving us? I do not have words to describe how I feel over this callous act.”

In his reaction, Adewale Martins, Catholic archbishop of Lagos, described the president’s visit as ill-timed.

In a statement signed by Gabriel Osu, director of social communications, the archbishop lamented that the president’s visit coincided with the “most important days of the year for Christians when they celebrate the events of the salvation of the world”.

He said Christians would be subjected to “untold hardships” due to the closure of roads and the ban of commercial motorcycles on many routes.

“It is really unfortunate that the timing of the visit would create such hardships for people and deprive some of their right to worship and take part in the most important feast of their faith,” he said.

Buhari is currently attending the 10th colloquium of Bola Tinubu, a leader of the APC, in Lagos.

This is the president’s first official visit to the state since his emergence in 2015.

Land Use Charge: Alpha Beta denies contract with Lagos State government

Alpha Beta Consulting said on Thursday that it has no contract with the Lagos State Government in execution of the state’s newly-introduced land use law.

But the firm was silent on allegations that its name was specifically mentioned in the new law that hikes tariffs for homeowners across the state.

“We would like to state that our company, Alpha Beta Consulting, is not involved in the collection and administration of the Land Use Charge of Lagos State,” the company’s deputy managing director, Bode Oluyemi, said in a statement on Thursday morning.

“Although we do business with the state as we do with other individuals and organisations that require our services, Land Use Charge collection and/or administration is not part of our brief,” he added.

The disclaimer comes as tempers flare amongst Lagosians over the new rates for land use and the claim that Alpha Beta, a private firm, had been specifically favoured by the law as a potential consultant to be engaged in verification of land use payments to state coffers.

The Lagos House of Assembly responded to the criticism yesterday, saying that Alpha Beta was erroneously written into the state law.

“It was a very costly mistake that should not have happened,” Tunde Braimoh, a spokesperson for the Lagos State House said on Wednesday afternoon. “It was erroneously put in the draft copy of the law and we’re already working to remove it completely.”

“Alpha Beta or any other designated person(s) or corporate body who has the responsibility of monitoring the incoming revenue of the state through the collecting banks, shall provide a report to the Accountant-General of the State,” according to a section of the proposed Lagos State Land Use Charge Act 2018 said.

Mr. Braimoh said that Alpha Beta would be removed from the law within three weeks.

He also said the new land use law, which is a revision of a 2001 law, has not been signed into law. But it was later learnt that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had given his assent to it since February.

Residents across the state are also reporting on social media that they have started receiving notification about the new tariffs.

State officials promised to make a copy of the signed law available before the end of the week.

Alpha Beta did not say whether it was inserted in the law or now, but insisted that “the stories making the rounds that link us to it is not true and do not represent our correct relationship with the government.”

The company has been favoured over the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service in the state’s tax administration since the days of Bola Tinubu, who was governor between 1999 and 2007.

The role of Alpha Beta in Lagos State has been a subject of widespread speculation amongst residents, especially since successive administrations after Mr. Tinubu have failed to disclose the terms of their contracts to the state’s residents.

The opaque nature of the transactions between the parties has made it difficult for taxpayers to know how much Alpha Beta is taking from its engagement.

Some opposition politicians in the state have repeatedly taken on the state government over its affairs with Alpha Beta.

Land Use Charge: We are ready for dialogue, says Ambode

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday said his administration is not oblivious of the hue and cry generated by the revised Land Use Charge Law, saying that the government is ready to dialogue to resolve the issues going forward.

Governor Ambode, who spoke during a well attended forum with the Organised Private Sector tagged “Lagos Means Business”, said the review of the law was not a deliberate attempt by the government to overburden property owners but a decision taken in the overriding interest of the future of Lagos.

The forum had in attendance major players in the business circle including former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke; founder, First City Monument Bank Group, Otunba Subomi Balogun; Chairman, Premier Lotto Limited, Chief Kessington Adebutu; Chairman, Eleganza Group of Companies, Alhaji Rasak Okoya; Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia; founder United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr. Tony Elumelu; Chairman Honeywell Group, Dr. Oba Otudeko; former Minister of Industry, Chief Nike Akande, Chairman, Channels Television, Mr. John Momoh, members of the diplomatic corps, top business owners, among others.

He said the Law, enacted in 2001 provides for an upward review every five years, but that the State Government had not carried out any review of the Law up until 2017, adding that the recent review was in line with the present economic realities.

He said, “The law was made in 2001. It provides that every five years, we should review it and also find a way to increase. 15 years after in 2017, the law has never been reviewed. Now, the question is this; those who are having commercial properties, the rental income they were getting in 2002 as against the rental income they are getting in 2017, is it the same? The level of infrastructure that existed in 2002 as against what has happened in the last 15 years, are they the same? Did it not come at a cost? So, why is the market value of the property that you built with one million naira, 15 years after, you are selling at N20million. Why do you think somebody who is a buyer will pay N20million for it? Is it not because of the facilities around the property? So, we have to sacrifice; that is how it works everywhere.

“So, somebody comes and say we have increased by 400 per cent. The question is the 400 per cent of what? You were paying N10, 000 before, now we say you should pay N50, 000 and you are calculating and turning statistics upside down by saying it is 400 per cent.

Explaining further, the Governor said that while the revised Land Use Charge law requires owner-occupiers to pay just 0.076 per cent, pensioners, churches, mosques, non-governmental organisations and government institutions are exempted from payment.

“So, who is the one that will take care of the ones that are free? If you are owner-occupier you don’t need to pay. So, it’s the commercial part that people are complaining about.

“Why have we increased the rate? We should have been doing this every five years but I am looking at it if I must sustain the level of my vision, I have to give something back to people. I don’t have to come and meet you if I continue to borrow money, but we are borrowing to punish you ultimately which is not what we want because it is even the taxes you pay that would pay the interest and the principal. Somebody needs to tell us the bitter truth for us to sacrifice together and that is what we have done,” Governor Ambode said.

Reeling out statistics to explain the challenges that would confront the State in the nearest future, the Governor said Lagos is projected to become the third largest consumer market in the world with a population of 35.8million, closely behind Tokyo and Delhi, while the population growth and rapid urbanization would put infrastructure and public services under pressure.

He said the State requires a minimum of $50billion over the next five years to bridge the gap of infrastructural deficit, adding however, that a special infrastructure fund that would be driven by the private sector to address social challenges is the way to go.

“Assuming the entire budget for 2018 is spent only on infrastructure development, Lagos will be left with a deficit of about N14.47trillion and also require an additional 19 years of similar expenditure to bridge the infrastructure deficit,” Governor Ambode said.

The Governor, also expressed concerns that out of the eight million taxable adults in the State, only about two million submitted their tax returns while only 700,000 actually paid their taxes last year.

“We are 24million; taxable adults in Lagos is 8million. The number of people that actually submitted tax returns in 2017 is 2million and then only 700, 000 people paid their taxes,” he said.

He said the current tax returns were not enough to cater for the capital projects ongoing across the State, adding that major cities across the world with thriving economies are sustained by the taxes paid by residents.

Thanking the business community for their support over the years, Governor Ambode said his administration was committed to creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive, adding that concerted efforts have been made to encourage investors to set up their businesses in the State, which according to him would have multiplying effects on the State’s economy.

“I invite you to come and own the economy. Whatever you say here would be taken seriously because this gathering is not just about knowledge sharing; it’s more about the future of Nigeria and not just Lagos,” the Governor said.

In his brief remarks, President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote commended the Governor for deeming it fit to organise a forum to meet the business community in Lagos, adding that his (Governor) passion to make Lagos thrive was not in doubt.

He also said the economic drive by the State Government was one that required all and sundry to rally round the government and perform their civic responsibility of paying their taxes as and at when due.

“I am more convinced now and I think people should really be voluntarily paying taxes in Lagos. I think for people who are doing business here, Lagos is the most-friendliest States in Nigeria. If you really want to know, try other states and you will see hell.

“I am not advertising for Lagos but there is not a single time you go with a problem and the Governor will ask you to go and come back tomorrow because in most cases, he will call everybody and say let us sit down and sort out the issues. So, your Excellency, we congratulate you and assure that we will continue to support you,” Dangote said.

Also speaking, Ovia and Elumelu lauded the Governor for the massive infrastructural renewal projects across the State especially in the area of security.

Ovia, said that business owners now feel safe to invest in the State owing to the investment in security, just as he commended the Governor for sustaining the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), a public private partnership designed to enhance security in the State.

“Your Excellency, you have spoken today like a Chairman/CEO of a company to his shareholders. We are definitely one of your shareholders and we would renew your mandate in 2019 there’s no doubt,” Ovia said.

The duo promised to increase their donation to the fund, while also calling on others to contribute their quota to the enhancement of the State’s security architecture.

LCCI worried over ‘grey areas’ in the new Lagos land use charge law

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) plans to hold a round-table to renegotiate grey areas in the new land use charge law of Lagos State.

In a statement signed by its director-general, Muda Yusuf, the LCCI said the March 9 dialogue would examine the provisions of the recently-passed law viz-a-viz its implications for residents and businesses operating in Lagos State and its environs.

“In continuance of its public policy advocacy initiative, it behoves the LCCI to provide a platform, such as this, to aggregate the views of stakeholders (both public and private) on the new and use charge law in Lagos, which has generated heated debates in the public space,” he said.

“This platform will enable stakeholders in real estate, construction and other related sectors to engage the Lagos state government on the recently-passed law and re-negotiate its grey areas.”

Lagos state government recently repealed its 2001 land use charge law, and replaced it with a new land use charge law, 2018.

The state house of assembly had passed the bill on Jan. 29, while the governor signed the bill into law on February 8.

Based on this law, new rates were sent to residents and those that have received their bills claim that the land use charge was an increase of between 150 and 300 per cent over the 2017 rates.

NECA vows to resist new Lagos land use charges

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association has kicked against the recent amendment to the Land Use Charge Law in Lagos State, saying it will resist its implementation.

NECA described the amendment as “a classic case of insensitivity, alienation and gross disregard of the current state of wellbeing of both corporate organisations and residents.”

It stated at a press conference on the state of the economy in Lagos on Thursday, “The new law would expect property owners in the state to pay at the very minimum a monstrous, appalling and callous increase of over 200 per cent, and in some instances, over 500 per cent in Land Use Charge.”

The President, NECA, Mr. Larry Ettah, said, “We find this law intolerable and brutish. We will do everything legal and legitimate, including social resistance, to challenge this unfair and unjustifiable law.

“We put the governor on notice that this law, in its current form, is not acceptable and we will fight this law by social resistance and any other legitimate means at our disposal to get the government to ameliorate the harsh impact of the abhorrent law on residents.

“We believe in the context of a democracy that it is important that truth be spoken to power. We hope the government will not be obdurate and see reason as to why this law is unfair as it is insufferable.”

In its bid to increase its internally generated revenue and expand the tax base, the Lagos State Government recently repealed the 2001 Land Use Charge Law and replaced it with the new Land Use Charge Law 2018.

The government also extended the period for the payment of all Demand Notices for the annual Land Use Charge to Saturday, April 14, 2018.

This is to enable property owners and affected occupiers take the option of enjoying the discounts available for the prompt and early payment of the LUC invoices.

However, Ettah said it was not as if the income of a property owner had gone up significantly to justify the outrageous law.

He added, “More so, the real estate sector continues to wallow in deep recession with high vacancy rates. How on earth would any decent authority increase taxes overnight by over 200 to 500 per cent when the government should be doing more to stimulate the sector to come out of recession?

“To compound matters, there is a repugnant and odious penalty payment ranging between 125 and 200 per cent if payment is not made between April and August.”

According to him, penalties for default in paying the LUC within the period specified in the demand notice attracts a 25 per cent penalty on the rate not paid between 45 to 75 calendar days.

It also includes a 50 per cent penalty on the rates not paid between 75 to 105 calendar days; and 100 per cent penalty on the rates not paid between 105 to 135 calendar days.

Ettah stated, “Where the LUC demand notice is not settled after 135 days of the taxpayer’s receipt, the Lagos State Government is authorised by the LUCL to appoint a temporary receiver/manager to administer the property until all the outstanding taxes, penalties and administrative charges are paid.

“Basing the annual Land Use Charge rate on the market value of a property is an inequitable form of taxation as the owner of the property is not, as a matter of fact, receiving the market value of the property on an annual basis.

“Using the market value of a property to assess its LUC on an annual basis is also deemed to amount to a subtle form of double taxation as Capital Gains Tax is paid every time the property is sold or bought.”

Lagos releases calendar of Arts and Culture programmes

 

The Lagos State Government has released a calendar of over 70 state-sponsored and endorsed arts and culture programmes slated for the rest of this year in its bid to garner visibility for tourism-oriented art programmes..

The novel exercise, according to a release signed by the State’s Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, is designed to frontload public and privately driven arts, culture and entertainment events that will have positive impact on tourism and the image of Lagos as an arts-friendly state. “This initiative is in fulfilment of the State Government’s promise to announce a yearly calendar of events to guide programming, tourists and visitors’ decisions” he stated.

According to Ayorinde, the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, kick-started the year with his attendance at Ali Baba’s January 1st Comedy concert at Eko Hotel. Other arts and culture events held in January and February so far and included in the calendar are Angel and Muse, an art exhibition by a Lagos-trained world renowned artist; Eebi; a month-long Indigenous Cultural Festival in Epe; Wazobia FM Carnival as well as the Lagos City Marathon amongst others.

The idea of creating a calendar of events for state-sponsored and state-endorsed programmes, is to make event planning, tour bookings and business decisions easier for tour operators and the general public.

The calendar is part of the state’s innovative intervention to project arts, entertainment and leisure benefits inherent in Lagos, which makes the state attractive to domestic tourists; business travellers and stop-over passers-by.

The commissioner said, “the state is forging ahead in expanding the consumption of its tourism products by improving access to tourism information and creating an events guide for the media and tour bloggers”.

Although not exhaustive, the calendar contains most of the well-known indigenous cultural festivals across the state, entertainment events; concerts; visual and performing arts as well as fashion and culinary events.

The state is expected to leverage on its continous infrastructural development, regeneration and creation of iconic minuments snd attractions for entertainment, arts and culture enthusiasts to boost economic activities and expand opportunities for job creation during the various events slated on the calendar.

“The administration of Governor Ambode believes that the quantum of cash transactions across the tourism and entertainment value-chain, as tracked in December 2017 when about 50billion was spent on entertainment and leisure alone, is a testimony to the huge economic gain that exists in promoting tourism in Lagos State.This and other economic factors make Lagos one of the most vibrant and culturally significant cities in Africa with potentials to make enormous impact in driving in-bound tourists from across the globe.

Major events listed in the calendar include Gidi Fest, Lagos Water Regatta and Fanti Carnival around the Easter Period; the International Jazz Day celebration on April 30 which will be dedicated to the South-African Jazz legend, Huge Masekela; the Lagos Comedy Festival (incorporating Lagos Laughs on World Laughter Day) on May 6 and the Eko Art Expo in the last weekend in May.

June will be rich with the first ever Lagos Golf Funfair and the Lagos Cinefest, which is designed to take cinema-going experience to all the five divisions of the state.

The Lagos Festival of Plays is a major highlight in the third quarter of the year; so is the Lagos Fishing Festival (Oshoroko) in Ibeju-Lekki; Akwaaba Travel Market and Faaji Agba – a special concert for the elderly to mark World Elders Day.

October to December will be the most intense period on the calendar with Olokun Festival; MUSON Festival; AFRIMA, AFRIFF; Kayo-Kayo Festival in Epe; the Lagos Luxury Summit/Fair; Felabration which will be used to celebrate Deal’s 80th birthday posthumously; the Lagos Books & Arts Festival (LABAF) which will be used to welcome Lagos into Africa’s Creative Cities club as well as the phenomenally popular One Lagos Fiesta which will hold between December 24 and 31st across the five divisions of the state in its forth unbroken year.

“The State is grateful to corporate sponsors that will make many of these events happen” Ayorinde says; adding that “our aim is to use the calendar and other strategic initiatives to enrich the entertainment and creative economy as an integral component of tourism promotion.”