… Delta State Govt keeps mute
By Shedrack Onitsha,
Concerned stakeholders in Delta State have charged Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to wake up from his slumber and tow the path of Rivers and Lagos State governors in fighting and ensuring that the judgment of Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, in a suit marked FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, which held that the Rivers State Government had the powers to collect VAT within its territory, is implemented in full.
Advocate.ng reports that Akwa-Ibom, Adamawa, like Rivers and Lagos State have started putting measures in place to start collecting VAT from their states, meanwhile, Delta State that is a major beneficiary of the court judgment has stayed aloof and maintained sealed lips in order to be in the good book of power brokers in Abuja.
Gov Okowa should wake up from slumber and do the needful -Delta Lives Matters
Speaking on the silence of Governor Okowa to this national discourse, a pressure group that styles itself as “Delta Lives Matters” called on Governor Okowa to as a matter of urgency send a bill to Delta State House of Assembly to domesticate the collection of VAT in Delta, like what Rivers and Lagos states have done.
The group in a statement signed by its officials; Christian Moses Abeh (Global Coordinator), Gabriel Mamuzo (Deputy Coordinator), Citizen Miracle Ifeanyi Ogor (Europe Coordinator) and made available to Advocate.ng, condemned moves by Federal Inland Revenue Service in trying to stop Rivers State Government and the other Southern States from collecting VAT in their territories.
According to them; “It is very shameful seeing the desperation at which the Federal Inland Revenue Service is trying to block Rivers State Government and the other Southern States from collecting VAT in their territories. The desperation by the Federal Government through the FIRS is not about protecting the Republic’s interest, but the Northern states that are bringing almost nothing to the table every month; but go home with the huge amounts of monies from VAT gotten from southern states.
“Apart from Kano, Kaduna, Zamfara, Plateau, Benue and a few states, most of the Northern states bring nothing as VAT but go with billions of naira gotten from Lagos, Oyo, South-South and South-East state monthly.
“It is crystal clear now that the Federal Government is deliberately milking the South dry to feed the North for a selfish reason with the help of the constitution that was written in favour of the North by the then military and northern leaders.
“If not that the Federal Inland Revenue Service is protecting the Northern interests, why will he be looking for every avenue to block Rivers State Government from collecting VAT including going to Appeal Court and applying for constitutional amendment of FIR Acts, knowing full well that Rivers State generates more than what is being given?
“If not for the northernization of the Country, would Kano state that destroy alcoholic beverages through their Sharia police supposed to benefit from the VAT gotten from alcohol?
“It will be very provocative this time around to see the southern lawmakers look the other way while the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives smuggle and amend the constitution in order to place VAT collection under the exclusive legislative list for Muhammad Nami and his paymasters so that they can continue to milk the South dry for the North.
“How on earth will Lagos state Government generate over #46billion and be given paltry #9billion, but Kano received the exact amount generated and no one is talking? Who are the people who worked out the sharing formula and what was the yardstick used in sharing the VATs?
“How much has FG been giving to Delta, Rivers or Lagos states from the Zamfara gold or other minerals mining in the north?
“While our boarders are closed in the South, the Northern boarders are open for free movement of goods and foreigners who come here to join hands with their Fulani brothers to terrorise our nation.
“According to the Federal High Court Judgment in Port-Harcourt, in suit CS/149/2020, like Rivers state, Delta state also has the powers to collect VAT and Personal Income Tax within her territory.
“How can we be paying for consumption tax of goods purchased and services rendered here in Delta state and the VAT (money) will be given to people who see us as second class citizens?
“Why will Kano state boast of over twenty million people yet couldn’t generate #3billion (three billion naira) and still went home with same, while Rivers state with a population of less than six million generated over #15billion (fifteen billion naira) and went home with a little above #4billion?
“We call on the Delta State Government to transmit a bill to the State House of Assembly immediately for the collection of VAT. We can’t continue to use our resources to develop the northern states. Katsina, Yobe, Borno, Kano, Kwara, Gombe and other Northern states that have no business whatsoever benefiting from VAT gotten in Delta state.
“These people should look inward and develop their places than to continue being parasites to other states that are thinking of how to improve their economies.”
VAT is an idea whose time has come –Dieseruvwe
Reacting also to the silence and inaction of Delta State government, a former Director-General, Delta State Traffic Management Authority, and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Olorogun Stephen Dieseruvwe, stated that collection of VAT is an idea whose time has come.
He, therefore, charged Governor Okowa to come and take the driver’s seat and give direction by ensuring that Delta State joins others to fight for what rightly belongs to the state, rather than sitting on the fence and waiting for the outcome of others efforts.
According to him; “I just listened to a debate on the judgement on Arise TV with a Lagos lawyer, Dele and the position is straightforward. The FIRS does not have the constitutional power to collect VAT, as it is a local tax on consumption, collectable by the States.
“The pronouncements of FIRS that businesses should continue to pay VAT to them, pending the ruling of the Appellate Court, is a clear contempt of court, and can only happen in a country ruled by impunity. In the long run, the States will be victorious on this issue.”
He added, “It is not whether the FHC ruling is implemented, it will for sure be implemented and that will be the start of fiscal federalism in Nigeria.
“I am of the opinion that Gov. Okowa hasn’t made a pronouncement on the ruling because his rubber-stamp DTHA are not around to do his bidding. But I have this feeling that, when they return from their jamboree, they will copy the Rivers and Lagos VAT laws for implementation.
He also frowned on the training tour by the Delta State House of Assembly to the UK, noting; “I have always kicked against this mindless wastage of our scarce resources. What legislative value do they bring to bear on their legislative functions after return from such jamboree? Absolutely nothing, as they remain a rubber-stamp to the executive arm of government.”
FIRS is paying for the effects of tribalism, favouritism -Concerned Citizen
A Concerned Citizen who does not want his name on print, also wrote; “Oponu, you incompetent fools in FIRS wanted to apply for a stay of execution pending appeal, you wrote a letter to the court. Is court procedure gotten by writing letters? Dumb fools. Your entire legal department of FIRS should be sacked.
“That is what happens when you use tribalism, favouritism and political loyalty to recruit lawyers. Shebi FIRS is fond of underground recruitments, you fools will learn the hard way. You will learn by force that government work is not for blockheads and misfits.
“There are three things you don’t recruit with tribalism: your lawyer, your doctor, your pilot.
“As for the North, better start looking for how you will tax banditry and kidnapping. By the time the South is done with you, you will be begging Nigerian Breweries to establish their factory beside the Sultan’s Palace.”
When contacted for Delta State Governments’ reaction, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika evaded the question asked by our correspondent and promised to get back to us shortly. He never did and calls made to him and the Commissioner for Information were not answered.
Neither SMS nor WhatsApp messages sent to them were also not replied to, as of the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State House of Assembly, just passed VAT and Anti-Open Grazing Bills, while the status of Delta state is unknown.