Project: Wike decries FG’s exclusion of Rivers from new loans

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike,

Blessing of Ibunge in Port Harcourt

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike said it would be an act of sheer discrimination for the federal government not to include Rivers State among the states that would benefit from the projects it intended to carry out with new foreign loans.

Wike also said Nigeria must encourage federated states to harness their resources, including value added tax (VAT), in order to generate income to advance their development.

He said this yesterday at Government House, Port Harcourt, when the managing director and editor of the SUN newspaper, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present him with a letter of appointment as the SUN man from the year. Prices 2020.

The governor expressed concern that Rivers State is not among the states that would benefit from one of the projects to be executed with the new loan the federal government is seeking from the World Bank.

He said, “Look at the money the federal government borrowed from the World Bank. Of all the projects, in all the states, the federal government did not include Rivers State.

“Look at the list of projects that states will benefit from this money they borrow from the World Bank that they have sent to the National Assembly for approval, the only state that does not benefit is Rivers State. “

He continued: “It is the prerogative of Mr. President; if he says he doesn’t like Rivers State, if the ruling party says he doesn’t like Rivers State, I won’t kill myself. But leave the one that the law says I should be the one to collect so that I can develop my own condition. “

Meanwhile, Wike observed that there had been attempts to prevent federated states like Rivers from updating constitutional provisions that allowed them to exploit their resources and revenues, especially VAT.

The governor denounced the situation where the legality of States collecting VAT is not considered on the merits of the law by certain public commentators, including certain State officials; on the contrary, they politicized and viewed things through the prism of ethnicity and religion.

According to Wike, what the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was doing was illegal and could amount to theft from states.

He said: “You don’t even have to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in Articles 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Everyone knows it. He’s not even on the competing list. Therefore, it falls under the residual list. It is not debatable. That yesterday nothing happens does not mean that today nothing will happen, or tomorrow something will not happen.

“Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have the resources to develop their states. We are in a federal system where we practice the unitary system. Everyone at the end of the month will travel to Abuja to share money. Nobody comes back to the state to think about how to develop his state.

He explained that the competition against the collection of VAT had been launched by the State of Lagos, which had taken the federal government to the Supreme Court.

Rivers State only avoided their pitfall, he said, by suing FIRS, a federal government agency that illegally collected tax in the state.

“The issue of VAT did not start in Rivers State alone. It started in Lagos State when Lagos State challenged it in the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court said that you (Lagos) should not have sued the federal government. All you would have done was sue the agency, ”he said.

The governor noted that instead of praising the Rivers State government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, one state governor in particular threatened that the court ruling that said states , not the FIRS, were authorized to collect VAT in their jurisdictions not bear.

He urged those who ask for the consideration of a keeper of brethren to first appreciate the position of the law and situate it correctly.

“Some have said: be your brother’s keeper. I have no problem being my brother’s keeper, but why not come out and say, are we telling the simple truth about who the VAT collector is?

“When you accept that, that it’s the state, then we can sit down and look at the different issues of the states. And don’t say you’re your brother’s keeper while you’re doing an illegal thing, disobeying what the law says you shouldn’t do.

Wike explained that beyond the provision of infrastructure, his administration would seek a law that would provide comfortable housing for retired judicial officers.

The reason, he said, is to ensure that judicial officers focus on their work without cutting corners and are able to avoid corrupt practices.

Previously, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN Journal, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, had declared the SUN Man of the Year 2020 award to be the company’s flagship award.

According to Ukeh, Governor Wike was unanimously chosen for his remarkable contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and the promotion of fiscal federalism with his stance on VAT, which would aid in the restructuring of Nigeria.

He said: “Today, His Excellency guided Nigeria towards true federalism with the issue of VAT. Knowing what fiscal federalism should be, His Excellency went to court to challenge the collection of VAT and the Court said that in reality states should collect VAT. And this lays the foundations for true federalism and fiscal federalism. “

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