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See What Lagos Assembly Inserted Into Land Use Law "By Mistake"

The Lagos State House of Assembly said on Wednesday that the insertion of a private company as a consultant in the state’s proposed land use law was a mistake.
But critics have rejected this explanation as an afterthought and said the same set of lawmakers had done it before with the insertion of Visionscape, a private firm, into the state’s environmental law last year.

Social media erupted on Wednesday morning after a screengrab emerged of the state’s proposed land use law showing that Alpha Beta was specifically mentioned as a possible consultant to be engaged in verification of land use payments to state government.

“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.

The section elicited widespread criticism from social media users, with many calling on Lagosians to be wary of the All Progressives Congress’ leadership in the state.

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

Mr. Braimoh said ‘Alpha Beta’ would be deleted from the law within three weeks before Governor Akinwunmi Ambode would have the permission to sign the final copy into law.

“We will remove it within the next three weeks and forward the clean bill to the governor for assent,” he said. “It is after then that the law will be gazetted and people can be able to cite it.”

The lawmaker said those responsible for the controversial insertion have apologised, but accepted responsibility for participating in pushing it forward.

“Although the bill is an executive bill, it is our job as lawmakers to vet it properly before passing it,” he said. “On this note, I accepted by own share of responsibility in the mistake.”

But Demola Olarewaju, an opposition politician and strategist for the Peoples Democratic Party, said the lawmakers are scrambling to save face after being caught trying to shortchange Lagosians again.

“How can the House of Assembly which has 40 members say a company was mistakenly inserted into a law and no one detected it?” Mr. Olarewaju told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Wednesday afternoon. “They can say it was an error of judgement, but definitely not a mistake.”

“They didn’t expect that people would read the law and point out the duplicity in it,” he added.

He said it was not the first time that Lagos lawmakers would pass a law that specifically gives undue advantage to a private company.

“Visionscape was specifically mentioned in the new environmental law,” Mr. Olarewaju said. “Lagosians want to know the owners of Visionscape and Alpha Beta.”

The state’s environmental law favours Visionscape as a monopoly in the management of waste disposal in the state. But a few months after it commenced operation, Visionscape found itself unable to handle waste management in the state of nearly 20 million people.

The company has also been locked in a fierce confrontation with existing waste management firms, a situation that had left residents grappling with a lack of proper waste management.

Critics said the latest law on land use charges was draconian because it was allegedly aimed at further squeezing the residents of their hard earned income.

“If you’re paying N1,000 now as your land use charge, you could be paying up to N10,000 by the time the law is finalised,” Mr. Olarewaju said.

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