The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has advised State Governors kicking against the constitutional right and authority of State Governments to impose, collect and utilize value added taxes (VAT) within their respective territorial jurisdictions to eschew parochialism and face the current reality of the 21st century.
He said that the governors canvassing for the Federal Government to continue collecting tax through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) were only shutting doors to obvious reality starring Nigerians in the face, adding that it was important they support actions and policies that would guarantee true federalism and set pace for the country’s development.
The governor noted that though he was not oblivious of economic constraints that may arise from the full implementation of the law and accompanying drop in federal allocation to states’ purses, it was important for the opposing governors to rather see the development as an opportunity to use their ingenuity in sustaining their respective states.
Speaking during a statewide broadcast on Monday after the Federal High Court dismissed FIRS’ application for stay-of-execution of the judgement, Wike clarified that the move by his administration to stop the apex government from collecting taxes on behalf of states was to contribute his own quota to the advancement of fiscal federalism.
According to him, in doing so our singular and progressive objective was to contribute to the advancement of fiscal federalism by enabling the federating States to explore and exploit their potential and capacity for generating greater internal revenues with which to fund their development goals and reduce the outdated over-reliance on pitiable federal allocation and other handouts.
He added, “naturally, some states with presently low economic activities and ethically restrictive social policies with economic implications may be adversely affected for now.
“But, this is not our own making. Like the right to derivation, this is also a constitutional prescription, which we all swore as political leaders to respect and defend as the supreme law of the land.
“Above all, fiscal federalism remains the right path to economic self-reliance and sustainability for all our States and the benefits derivable from this case by all the States in the long run far outweigh the immediate revenue loss that some States may presently suffer.”
Continuing, he said, “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.
“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.
“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.”