On Thursday, September 16, governors in Southern Nigeria held a meeting in Enugu to discuss critical issues facing the region.
One of the most important issues they discussed is the collection of the Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT used to be collected by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) until recently when the Rivers state government challenged the federal agency.
The Lagos state government followed suit as governors seek to take power to collect VAT from the federal government. The matter is currently at the Court of Appeal after the Rivers state government won at the Federal High Court level.
While many governors seem to be in support of states collecting VAT, there are also a few who believe the FIRS should continue collecting the tax.
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At the southern governors' meeting, media reports state that they collectively backed VAT collection by states.
Legit.ng, however, notes that some governors were curiously absent at the meeting, opting to send their deputies.
Considering this move, it is difficult to ascertain if truly all the southern governors are in support of states collecting VAT. It is also important to note that one of the southern governors, David Umahi of Ebonyi, had earlier backed the FIRS to continue collecting VAT.
Here is the list of governors who have expressly backed states to collect VAT, rather than the FIRS:
- Oluwarotimí Akeredólu (SAN) - Ondo state governor
- Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi - Enugu state governor
- Nyesom Wike - Rivers state governor
- Emmanuel Udom - Akwa Ibom state
- Babajide Sanwo-Olu - Lagos state
- Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta - Delta state
- Adegboyega Oyetola - Osun state
- Douye Diri - Bayelsa state
- Dapo Abiodun - Ogun state
According to The Sun, nine governors were present while seven sent their deputies out of the 17 states in the region. Anambra state governor, Willie Obiano, was not present and did not send any representative.
Governors not in support of states collecting VAT
Just like Ebonyi, the Kogi state government has said it will not involve itself in the pursuit to collect VAT as embarked on by the governments of Lagos and Rivers.
Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya
Similarly, the Gombe state government is against VAT collection by states.
The Punch reported that the state's commissioner of finance and economic development, Muhammad Magaji, appealed to Lagos and Rivers to be their brothers’ keeper by contributing to the centre.
David Umahi, Ebonyi state
Earlier, Legit.ng reported that Ebonyi state governor, David Umahi, said he is not in support of Rivers, Lagos and other states in their moves to collect VAT
Umahi said Ebonyi state would continually throw its weight behind the FIRS’ collection of VAT.
Presidency reveals President Buhari’s final decision on VAT controversy
The presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, made the disclosure while speaking during an interview on Arise TV.
Adesina noted that though the case may drag up to the Supreme Court, the Nigerian leader would respect the rule of law.
The president's aide sharing his opinion said that the issue of VAT is good because there have been talks about restructuring and fiscal federalism in Nigeria.