Nigeria

Rivers governor: We’re not in fight with federal government over VAT collection

Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that the current sufferings visited on Nigerians will make them to chase the All Progressives Congress (APC) led federal government out of power in 2023.

The governor of Rivers, Nyesom Wike, says the state is not in a fight with the federal government over the collection of value-added tax (VAT).

Wike said this on Sunday in Abuja at a public lecture to mark the 60th birthday of Ahmed Raji, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and some state governments are currently embroiled in a legal tussle over VAT collection.

Rivers and Lagos state governments had enacted laws and called for decentralisation of collection, while some states want centralised collection.

But in September, a court of appeal directed the states to maintain the status quo pending the determination of an appeal filed by the FIRS.

Rivers State had also asked the supreme court to set aside an order of the court of appeal.

Speaking on the development, the governor, who was represented at the event by Zacchaeus Adangor, attorney-general of Rivers, said the state was only trying to pursue what was right and legitimate within the ambit of the constitution.

According to him, Rivers and the federal government are co-equal because they both “derive their lives from the constitution”.

“I have heard a lot of comments being made that we are fighting the federal government. There is no desire or any intention of the Rivers government to fight the federal government,” NAN quoted him as saying.

“The principle of co-equality is fundamental to a federal arrangement. That principle leads to the principle of autonomy; autonomy leads to fiscal autonomy and fiscal autonomy leads to fiscal federalism.

“When you put all the principles together, what it means is that each level of government, whether federal or state, is co-equal because none derives its life from the other. They both derive their lives from the constitution because they have co-equality.

“That is the fundamental aspect of fiscal federalism and until we get it, we will continue this journey of talking without result, but I think that the court has a role to play.

“The court can lay this crisis and controversy to rest when it makes a pronouncement.”

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