Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike is not happy that some governors are not with him in the fight to ensure that revenues accrue from Value Added Tax (VAT) are paid into the coffers of states in the federation.
Wike was furious that despite the order of the court that the federal government has no legal right to be collecting VAT, he found it hard to believe that some governors could be supporting the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to be colleting what is due to their states.
Without mincing words, Wike, during a statewide broadcast to the people of Rivers State on Monday, pointed accusing fingers to the Governor of Buhari’s state, Katsina, Aminu Bello Masari for leading the ‘gang’ of supporters of ‘VAT to federal government’ among the governors in the country.
To Wike, Monday’s judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, that dismissed a suit by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, seeking to stop the Rivers State Government from commencing collection of VAT further contribute to the advancement of fiscal federalism by enabling the federating states to explore and exploit their potentials and capacity for generating greater internal revenues with which to fund their development goals and reduce the outdated over-reliance on pitiable Federal Allocations and other handouts.”
Wike said that it is absurd for the likes of Governor Masari and others to campaign against states getting what is due them as the revenues from VAT.
Wike said: “It is therefore very unfortunate that some state governors led by that of Katsina State are vainly conspiring to truncate this progressive reality in favour of the inequitable status quo so that the Federal Government can continue to rob Peter to pay Paul as the nation’s self-imposed tax master-general.
“All that is required is for all of us to wear our thinking caps as elected Governors to collectively fight for the greater devolution of resources, responsibilities and powers to the federating states.
“For us in Rivers State, we will continue to ensure and project our constitutional rights to access all possible resources we can take hold both within and outside our geographical boundaries to advance the progress of our state.
“And with today’s judgment, the way is now clear for the administration and enforcement of the Rivers State Value Added Tax Law 2021 across the entire state until otherwise decided and set aside by the Superior Courts.
“Consequently, I hereby direct the Rivers State Revenue Service (RSRS) to ensure the full and total implementation and enforcement of this law against all corporate bodies, business entities and individuals with immediate effect.
“All corporate bodies, business entities and individuals are advised to willingly, truthfully and promptly comply with their tax obligations under this law to avoid the full weight of the stipulated sanctions, including having their business premises sealed-up.
“Let me warn that the Rivers State Government is fully in charge of the state and will not tolerate any further attempt by the FIRS to sabotage or undermine our authority to freely administer our tax and other related laws in our own state. Those who play with fire risks having their fingers burnt. Enough of the shenanigans.
“I wish to further assure every resident that we shall as usual make effective use of the expected proceeds from this tax to accelerate the development of our state and improve the wellbeing of everyone.”