By Mudiaga Affe
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, (SAN) on Tuesday night said that the state model intra-city rail service would commence in 2009 with the construction of the rail lines.
He spoke at the second Lagos State Taxation stakeholders’ conference at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
According to him, the government has just completed the designs of the rail service which would be followed by the actual construction.
The governor said that the state had also started the construction of jetties across the state, saying that more would be constructed next year.
Fashola described the transportation sector as the most critical, saying it usually determined at what rate food would reach the table of the average man as well as how life could be made worth living.
Reiterating his position on the voluntary payment of taxes, he added that since the last stakeholders’ conference, the state had gone a step ahead by ensuring that there was an improvement in its tax administration system with the resultant improved performance.
He said, “Dear compatriots, this year’s taxation conference is holding at an opportune time.
“With the dwindling oil prices and oil prices falling freely; with the global economic down-turn and the feverish search for alternative energy sources, there is no better time for us to take our destiny in our hands.”
He said it was gratifying to note that at the time when oil prices had dropped to as low as $50 per barrel, the state had stated its intention through the budget for Year 2009 to weather the storm through a very realistic price projection which took adequate care of increases in the prices of services.
He said that irrespective of the level to which the prices dropped, Lagos would continue to excel.
He said, “We have demonstrated that Lagos can be clean.”
We have shown what it takes to clean it. It is not a rocket science. It has been done all over the world. We need people to continuously work to clean it. We need equipment to enable them do it.
We need money to fund the equipment and their wages.”
He lamented that while a country like United Arab Emirates is beating its chest that it has no cause to worry till the next 30 years because it has successfully invested the proceeds of the jumbo oil prices wisely, no one can say categorically what Nigeria has done with her proceeds.
The Governor promised to consider some of the recommendations of the stakeholders’ summit such as the putting in place of a body of appeal commissioners as well as the resort to statutory rights of restraints as only a last resort.
He added that while the performance of the state government speaks for itself in terms of provision of social services, the state is also planning to construct a cardiac and renal centre in Gbagada to put a stop to people seeking medical attention for renal problems overseas.
Also speaking, a former governor of the state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, described Fashola as “our own Obama”.
He said any adult who refuses to pay his taxes is not fit to be described as a human being and does not deserve to enjoy the services of the state.