The recent Federal High Court declaratory judgment that it is the states, and not the federal government that should be collecting the value added tax, is victory for justice, and not necessarily for Governor Nyesom Wike, who has less than two more years to be in office. The Governor was only a vessel that God used at this time to right the wrongs of so many years, and history will never forget him for the exceptional courage and commitment to rule of law, equity and fairness in the relations between the federal government and the federating states
It is heart warming that other states, including Lagos state appreciate the bold move of the Rivers State governor, and are going ahead to put structures in place to take advantage of the judgment. Interestingly, even the states that are against the judgment are not opposed to it because it is wrong but that it will mean less money for them. Unfortunately, for them, the reality of life is that, there is no sentiment in law. When the law rules, every body must fall in line, whether the demands are favourable or not.
Now that the emergent situation favours Rivers State, it is good to lay a solid foundation that will support the collection and administration of VAT in the state. One of the ways this can be achieved, in our considered opinion is to scan for, and reach out to Rivers people who have been involved in value added tax collection and administration, possibly right from its inception in Nigeria. The experience of such persons will prove very useful at this stage.
When the idea of Modified Value Added Tax Commission was agreed in 1993 and each of the 36 states of the federation, including Federal Capital Territory, sent representatives to serve in the commission on the request of the federal government, Rivers State was represented. And in times like this, the importance of the experience of such men and women who have been involved in VAT related matters all their working life cannot be overemphasized.
Against this background therefore, we are strongly suggesting to the Executive Governor of Rivers State to get in touch with such persons wherever they are, with a view to enlisting their support in helping the state to lay a solid foundation for VAT collection and administration in the state.