The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the second reading of a Bill seeking to grant special economic status to states with over 10 million inhabitants. The Bill, sponsored by Rep. Babajimi Benson (APC-Lagos) and three others, seeks to alter Sections 80 (1) and 162 (1) of the Principal Act in the 1999 Constitution. Presenting the bill during plenary, Benson said that there was need to give deserving states the needed support to develop critical infrastructure to cater for their rising population.
According to him, any state with special economic consideration, by this bill, shall be granted 20 per cent of all proceeds accruing to the Federal Government from the state. He said, “This is essential to mitigate the pressures of urbanisation, overcrowding and decaying infrastructure thus, reviving the economic potential of such states to contribute significantly to economic prosperity of Nigeria. “The premise of the bill is the designation of any state within the threshold of 10 million inhabitants as a megacity by the United Nations.
“This bill will position Nigeria as a proactive country ready to address the urban challenges of overpopulation, poverty, infrastructure decay and environmental degradation.” He emphasised the need to consider states such as Anambra for special economic status, in view of it having the biggest river port city located in Onitsha.
He added that Kano should be considered for such status to economically regenerate the textile, apparel and footwear industry that played dominant role in the manufacturing sector. He said, “Despite the revenue and ambience Lagos contributes to Nigeria, poverty and social exclusion remain the major challenges because of the decay in infrastructure, occasioned by over population.
“The good that can be done in this regard is to compassionate all the states serving as melting points of our nation’s heterogeneous nature.” The Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, therefore, referred the bill to the Special ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review for further legislative action.