The move by the Rivers State government on who should take the Value Added Tax ( VAT) has once again exploited and exacerbated our fault lines in the country.
Normally it should be a good move whereby we need to test some of our laws in court. While Rivers State government won in the federal High court, the Appellate court ruled that both sides should maintain the status quo. I believe at the end of the day, the Supreme Court will have to make a final pronouncement on the matter.
Expectedly, what should have been an excellent debate has now turned into a north-south affair. Rich southern states versus the parasitic north.
According to some media reports, the parasitic northern states want to feed on VAT from the wealthy southern states. When the proponents contend that some northern states like Kano got more than they generated when it was shared, they conveniently forgot that states like Ekiti, Osun, and Ekiti got more than they generated.
I have always advocated that state governors should start thinking like Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of fortune 500 companies. Every state in the country is blessed with human and natural resources but most of our governors are lazy to even think beyond their noses. Some drastic changes have to be made.
I don’t know why Zamfara, Kogi, and Nassarawa are not among the richest states in Nigeria due to the vast amount of solid minerals in their states. Why is Niger State not feeding the whole country with rice and grains? Why is Abia State not an industrial hub like China?
California a state in the United States is one of the richest economies in the world not because of oil but because of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. So what’s stopping any state in Nigeria from becoming the technology hub and creating Silicon Valley. It is safe to surmise that most of our governors are vacuous.
First thing first, I think we should stop voting mediocre as governors. Before the elections, the electorates should scrutinize the candidates, what are the antecedents of the candidate? how many successful businesses have they run? what’s their blueprint on doubling the Internal Generated Revenue ( IGR) of the states in six months and how do they intend to do it.
We should stop voting in governors because of ethnic, religious sentiments, defender against Fulani invasion, stomach infrastructure, or because Edo no is Lagos. The electorates always live to regret it.
I can bet most of the governors are already thinking of increasing taxes to survive. That’s a lazy approach to increasing revenue.
I am all for economic restructuring in the country but let us be truthful to ourselves, states can’t collect 100 percent of the VATs in their states, that is not going to work. Maybe a formula should be worked out that states who generate more should be given extra and nobody should get more than they generate.
Allowing each state to collect taxes is an invitation to chaos. It will lead to an astronomical increase in the prices of goods and services. In a country where over 90 million people are extremely poor, it will also worsen the numbers.
We also know that most states use thugs and tout to collect taxes. Imagine all these touts breaking into offices and harassing workers because of tax. The activities of tout tax collectors in Abuja are legendary.
I also think the Federal Inland Revenue Service( FIRS) should continue to collect taxes, it should be done centrally and the only thing that should change is the sharing formula.