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FG excludes Rivers from fresh World Bank loan projects, Wike alleges

By Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt
21 September 2021   |   3:06 am
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday, accused the Federal Government of excluding Rivers State from the projects to be executed with the fresh loan being sought from the World Bank.

[FILES] Wike. Photo/https://www.facebook/GovernorNyesomEzenwoWikeCON/

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday, accused the Federal Government of excluding Rivers State from the projects to be executed with the fresh loan being sought from the World Bank.

He said it was necessary to encourage states to harness their resources and generate revenue, including Value Added Tax (VAT) to advance their development.

Wike stated this yesterday when the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Newspaper, Onuoha Ukeh, led a delegation to present a letter of nomination to him as the Sun Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House, Port Harcourt.

In a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, the governor noted that there were attempts to frustrate Rivers and other states from actualising constitutional provisions that empower them to harness their resources and revenues, especially VAT.

He decried the situation where the legality of states collecting VAT was not considered on the merit of the law by some public commentators and some governors, adding that they were rather politicising the issue and considering it from the prism of ethnicity and religion.

Wike insisted that it was illegal for the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to continue collecting VAT from the states, describing it as “robbing the states.”

He explained that Lagos State started the contest against a collection of VAT because the state had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court, stressing that Rivers State only avoided the pitfall by suing FIRS for collecting VAT in the state illegally.

“VAT is not in item 58 and 59 of the second schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). It is not in the concurrent list. Therefore, it falls under the residual list and is not arguable. That nothing happened yesterday does not mean that it will not happen today or tomorrow,” he said.

The governor lamented that rather than commend the Rivers State government for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism, a governor had threatened that the judgment that declared that states were entitled to collect VAT within their jurisdiction would not stand.

Wike insisted that it was discriminatory for the Federal Government to exclude Rivers State from projects for which it was seeking fresh loans to execute across the country.

Speaking, Ukeh said Wike was nominated for the Sun Man of the Year 2020 Award for his contributions to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and promotion of fiscal federalism with his position on VAT, which he said, would help in restructuring the country.

He commended the governor for his performance, especially on the infrastructure revolution in Rivers State.

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