Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, at the weekend, asked the federal government to stop losing 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day, which he said, could earn the country nearly $7.8 billion per annum at $50 per barrel.
The governor also faulted the austerity measures the federal government put in place to stem the impact of the unprecedented decline of oil prices on the international markets, describing the measures as deceptive.
He stated this on Sunday at an interactive session with the union leaders of tertiary institutions organised with the vice-presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and the APC governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, at the Tafawa Balewa Square Hall.
At the session, the governor said the austerity measures proposed by the federal government "is a deceptive policy. The official excuse it gave that because it was losing 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day, the people have to tighten their belts is not tenable.
"Largely because of their inefficiency, they have now come to say tighten your belt as austerity has come. Stop losing 400,000 barrels first because 400,000 barrels even at $50 would give you about $20 million per day. When you multiply that by the number of days in a year you will know how much we are losing."
Fashola, also, faulted the recourse "to an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) as part of the belt-tightening regime. So before you come back to the citizen to say tighten your belt, you must do your job first.
"They are now saying one of the ways they are going to raise money in austerity is that they are going to increase VAT which means that all of the consumables like water and coca-cola would cost more.
"That is why we quarrel with that austerity formula. We think that this is a time when you need creative and effective people in the economy. The government that cannot deliver electricity to you and cannot deliver security and could not buy guns for armed forces when oil was selling at over 100 dollars per barrel cannot do it when oil price is 50 dollars per barrel. They cannot do more with less because they cannot do anything with more."
He said the example of Lagos was basically "to demonstrate that government can indeed work. Seven years ago in Lagos, banks used to be robbed and there was no capacity to respond which was a challenge for the present government to confront.
"Today there have been no successful bank robberies in Lagos since 2008 except those who go and break ATM. That is a demonstration that government can work. In 2007 there was no street light in Lagos and there was no street that you could point to and say there would be street lights here at night. What that meant is that after 7pm you could not buy fuel.
"Street by street, pole by pole we are lighting up Lagos at night. That is a demonstration again that government can work. Have we finished the work? No. In 2007, how many parks and green areas were there in Lagos? There used to be pigs on the Marina, we cleaned it up and demonstrated that these things can be done." He stated that the next general election presented the most unique opportunity for Nigerians to effect a change in the country's leadership, noting that this "is the first time Nigerians as ordinary people and citizens have resolved to change a government that they all agree is not doing well."
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