Uproar in Senate over 1% VAT compensation for states affected by ENDSARS violence
Ethnic sentiments and interests dominated the debate on compensation for states affected by the violence that erupted during the EndSARS protests at the Senate on Tuesday.
Senator Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South) had brought a motion under urgent matter of national importance on the need for the Federal Government to assist the Lagos State Government in rebuilding its infrastructure.
In a similar motion, Senator Gershom Bassey (Cross River South), called on the National Assembly to compensate Cross River based on the level of destruction that took place in Calabar, the state capital.
Olujimi noted that on October 20, several media accounts revealed that peaceful protesters were allegedly shot at by the Nigerian military at the Lekki toll gate.
She lamented that private and public property worth over N1 trillion were looted and destroyed when hoodlums hijacked the peaceful EndSARS protests in Lagos, as the epicenter of the protests.
After moving their motions, Senator Sani Musa (Niger East) insisted that the compensation should be extended to states in the North suffering from banditry and Boko Haram crises.
“Any intervention by the government should be holistic and not restricted to Lagos State or Calabar,” he said.
But opposing the motion, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West) said the Senate should not consider the motion because it would be subjudice to the panels and tribunals set up by various states.
He said, “Let us wait for the outcome of these judicial panels. I will therefore appeal that we wait for the decisions of the panels. If the outcome is not acceptable by a lot of Nigerians, then we will come here and take a position as legislators.”
However, Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu West) noted that the nation had not done enough to protest the interest of the youth.
Ekweremadu said that the Federal Government must do more to create jobs for the youth in order to prevent a repeat of the EndSARS protests.
Stating that security agencies were overstretched, the former Deputy Senate President said it was time to decentralise the Police and employ more youth into the service.
He said, “This calls to mind the need for state police to enable states properly handle security situations in their domains.
“Some of the youths who were engaged in the EndSARS protests could have been readily absorbed by state police structures in the affected areas.
Senator Mathew Urhoghide (Edo South) while lamenting the tension that pervaded the atmosphere during the violence, said about 2000 inmates were set free by the hoodlums that hijacked the protest.
Among them, he said, were 200 inmates on death row.
He added, “Arms and ammunition were looted with no recovery made. The government should take proactive steps to employ the youth.”
Senator Christopher Ekpenyong, in his contribution, noted that politicians, especially, the executive and the legislators were fond of using the youth during electioneering and abandon them after the election.
The Senate, in its resolution, called on the federal government to set aside one percent of Value Added Tax (VAT) as compensation for states affected by the violence that trailed the EndSARS protests.
It also asked the government to set up a visitation panel to visit and evaluate the extent of damages in the affected states.
The upper chamber added that its committee on state and local government affairs should monitor compliance by the panel.
In his remarks, the Senate President said there was a need to do more for better economic conditions for youth employment.
He also said that the Senate needed to give security agencies the needed support for proper policing, adding that National Assembly was working on the same page to address the problems.
He added, “But it is also important to support our institutions to function well. We need to give the Police and all other security agencies the support they need to ensure that they provide security.
“The various federal government programmes need to be tailored towards ensuring that employment opportunities are generated.”