The Northern Elders Forum (NEF), has said the north is rich enough and can survive without relying on money generated via the Value Added Tax (VAT) from the south.
Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, NEF spokesperson, said this on Tuesday, during an interview on Arise Television.
There has been controversy between state governors and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), over collection of tax in their states.
A Federal High Court in Rivers State had empowered the state government to collect company tax in the state, and not the FIRS.
However, the Court of Appeal in a ruling on September 10, stopped the collection of VAT by Rivers and Lagos State governments pending the determination of an appeal filed by the federal tax agency against the judgment of the federal high court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Some state governors in the south have also signed the VAT bill into law, which will enable their respective tax agencies to collect tax, instead of the FIRS.
Baba-Ahmed, while reacting to the VAT bill passed by some Southern states, including Lagos and Rivers, insisting that tax generated in the state be paid to the state and not to the federal government, said:
“I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the north, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate.
“The thing about is: the north wants restructuring; the north wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”