Governor Wike, not one to back down from a fight, had taken the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, arguing that the state, not FIRS, should have the authority to collect VAT.
With his recent court triumphs against the Federal Government of Nigeria, Nyesom Wike, the fiery and indefatigable governor of Rivers State and true champion of the Niger Delta, has unknowingly launched a revolution for true federalism in Nigeria.
Justice Stephen Pam, the presiding judge, ruled that the Rivers State administration and the other 35 governments have the authority to collect VAT inside their borders.
While the VAT debate continues, the 36 states of the federation have sued the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), over the federal government’ s alleged refusal to deposit revenue collected from stamp duties into the accounts of states.
How Wike Successfully Strategized And Moved Against The Federal Government
Wike, a realist, understood that the fight was far from finished, and that the Federal Government and its operatives would soon reorganize and launch a counter- offensive. To solidify his win, he swiftly sponsored an executive bill on VAT collection in the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Wike signed the bill into law less than an hour after the Rivers assembly voted and submitted it to him. The governor remarked at the occasion that the verdict addressed the illegality committed by the federal government in collecting VAT in states.
According to the governor, states are being strangulated and turned into beggars by federal agencies taking control and collecting taxes designated for them.
However, we are standing on the shoulders of history as state lawmakers who have grabbed the bull by the horns and challenged the federal government’ s illegality through the Federal Inland Revenue Service. Several states have already been suffocated. The majority of states rely on federation account allocation. States have been relegated to the status of beggars.
” There would hardly be a day when one state or the other does not travel to Abuja to beg for some fund or the other, ” Wike lamented.
The federal government’ s onslaught began almost immediately, as expected. FIRS first sent a warning to all persons and businesses in Rivers who pay consumption taxes, stating that the agency had appealed and asked for a stay of execution of the verdict that gave states the ability to collect VAT.
Wike stunned the federal government in court once again when Justice Pam denied FIRS’ plea for a stay of execution, claiming that issuing the order would violate the concept of equity.
During a meeting with stakeholders, the governor directed that enterprises based in the state begin paying their VAT to the state government in September.
Wike bemoaned the country’ s inequity, revealing that Lagos generated N46. 4 billion in VAT income in June 2021 but received only N9. 3 billion from the government, Rivers N15 billion but received N4. 7 billion in return, and Kano N2. 8 billion but received the same N2. 8 billion.
Many people have become more aware of Wike’ s crusades. It has also sparked calls for change and initiatives. Many Nigerians, particularly those from the south who want change, have questioned how the country’ s wealth and positions are currently distributed, and if the south should continue to subsidize the north.
Many of Wike’ s passive colleague- governors have awoken from their slumber, emboldened by Wike’ s legal victories, and are preparing for battle in an attempt to break free from the Federal Government’ s suffocating grip.
Some states, such as Lagos, Akwa Ibom, and Delta, have since followed Rivers’ lead. For example, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu signed the Value Added Tax Bill into law over the weekend, giving the state government the authority to collect VAT in Lagos.
Last Thursday, Speaker Mudashiru Obasa of the Lagos State House of Assembly asked the acting Clerk of the House, OlalekanOnafeko, to send a clean copy of the bill to Governor Sanwo- Olu for assent.
The Lagos State Government applied to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, on Friday to be added as a co- respondent in the FIRS appeal contesting the Federal High Court of Port Harcourt’ s verdict granting states the ability to collect VAT.
The appeal court had scheduled FIRS’ plea for a stay of execution of the trial court’ s verdict for Friday, but the Lagos State Attorney General, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), informed the court of the Lagos Government’ s intention to be joined as a party in the appeal.
Before FIRS’ motion for a stay of execution, Onigbanjo contended, the application for joinder should be considered first.
The case was contested by FIRS’ s counsel, Mahmoud Magaji (SAN), who contended that the stay of execution application should take precedence over the joinder application. He asked the court to limit itself to the day’ s proceedings.
Regardless, after hearing from all parties, including the state of Rivers, which was represented by the state’ s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Zacchaeus Adangor, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), E.
The court ordered all parties to refrain from taking any action regarding the FHC judgment pending the determination of the application for stay of execution filed by FIRS. C. Nkala (SAN) and the counsel to the Attorney General of the Federation, Tijjani Gazali (SAN), the court ordered all parties to refrain from taking any action regarding the FHC judgment pending the determination of the application for stay of execution filed by FIRS.
Meanwhile, the states, backed by their attorneys general, claimed in the lawsuit that they, not the federal government, are the primary authorities for collecting stamp duties.
The attorneys- general asked the Supreme Court in the case SC/CV/690/2021 to determine whether the states are the sole authorities to administer and collect stamp duties on all transactions involving individuals/persons within their respective states, and whether the defendant (Malami) could claim, retain, distribute, or otherwise deal with the moni.
The states also ask the court to issue an order instructing Malami to account for and repay all money received by means of stamp duties on individual persons transactions inside the plaintiffs’ states from 2015 to 2020, and thereafter until the verdict is rendered.
Positive Effects Of Wike’ s Tussle With The Federal Government On His CV As A Politician
Wike’ s achievements and climb to national fame have made both his supporters and his harshest critics envy. Of course, this isn’ t the first time Wike has taken such a prominent position in the politics. Indeed, he has taken on the role of avatar, a potent catalyst whose opinions, relationships, and interests shape the course of events both within the PDP and across the country.
On various instances, he has spoken out against President Muhammadu Buhari’ s APC administration, criticizing when necessary and commending when appropriate. In the process, he has risen to become one of Nigeria’ s most powerful figures.
Wike is a brilliant political tactician. Because of his perennially bellicose reputation, many unknowing political foes mistook him for unstable and ignored him at their peril. Many of those who have ignored him, on the other hand, have paid a high political price.
His ascension to the national stage, as an astute and relentless student of politics, was not without its difficulties. To survive the intrigues woven against him by factions in both his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the former Obio Akpor local government chairman needed a lot of patience and talent.
He rose through the ranks from the grassroots, becoming Chairman of his Obio/Akpor LGA in 1999, deputy president, and later president of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, whose link to the Commonwealth Local Government Forum allowed him to gain exposure beyond Rivers.
He learned the ropes well from Odilli and Amaechi, who dominated Rivers politics for more than 16 years, and rose through the ranks from the grassroots, becoming Chairman of his Obio/Akpor LGA in 1999, deputy
It was apparent from that point forward that he would strive for more. When Amaechi was elected governor in 2007, he named him as his chief of staff for a four- year term. For the second time, he was named director- general of the Amaechis campaign.
In 2013, he became a minister and used the post to create an excellent connection with then- President Goodluck Jonathan, as well as to build a formidable grassroots support base for his governorship ambition.
Despite strong opposition from his former mentor, Amaechi, he was elected governor of Rivers in 2015. He hasn’ t looked back since then.
PDP May Have Found A Worthy Candidate To Solve Marginalization Problem In Nigeria
Wike might have proven himself to be a politician who hs strategies to fix economic problems, as his concern for the economic growth of Rivers state pushed him to agitate against the Federal Government, a fight which he is doing well.
As one of the PDP members with great publicity and credibility, the PDP dilemma about who to filled as their Presidential Candidate Ahead of 2023 general elections may have been solved, fielding Wike will definitely give PDP an edge over APC, and will also solve the marginalization and secessionist agitation problem between the Northern and South- Eastern Nigeria.
Nigerians have reclaimed their voices, and they want to be heard now more than ever. Previously timid agitators, including members of the general public, politicians, human rights activists, ethnic leaders, secessionists, and restructuring advocates, have taken to public squares, courts of law, and houses of assembly in their respective states to air their grievances and demand rights.
See How Nigerian’ s reacted in the comments section below: