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Buhari will respect final court verdict on VAT – Adesina

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The Presidency has said President Muhammadu Buhari will respect the final verdict on the Value Added Tax as decided by the Supreme Court.

There has been a raging controversy whether the states or the Federal Government through the Federal Inland Revenue Service should have the powers to collect VAT.

But reacting to the issue, spokesman for the President, Femi Adesina, “Eventually, we will have a legal pronouncement, which may come from the highest court in the land…. Knowing the Buhari administration, it will obey the rule of law.”

He added, “All these states are not unanimous. You have heard some governors speaking out against the position of certain states which are so militant on this VAT issue.”

According to him, the matter will affect the ongoing conversation on fiscal federalism.

He said, “The VAT is good because there have been talks about restructuring and fiscal federalism in the country. If states eventually get their demands in respect of VAT, there will be something like fulfilling fiscal federalism. But then, fiscal federalism itself must be done within the ambits of the law.”

The row over who collects VAT between the Federal Government and the state governments broke out after last month’s verdict by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt that Rivers State is legally in order to collect VAT in its domain.

The Rivers State Government quickly enacted a VAT law and commenced the process to start the collection.

But the FIRS insisted on continuing with the collection and has challenged the judgment at the Court of Appeal, which on Friday ordered the maintenance of the status quo until the determination of the appeal.

Lagos State, which generates the highest amount of VAT, has enacted its own law empowering it to collect the consumption tax in its domain.

Adesina, speaking on Arise TV, also touched on Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) 2020 financial report, and the security situation in the Northwest.

On the NNPC 2020 audited reports and the declared profit after tax of N287 billion, Adesina lashed out at those who always fail to see positive developments, but are always looking for bad in every good being recorded in Nigeria’s recent history.

He described the state of minds of those picking holes in the news of the profit as those that have been accustomed to hearing bad news, adding that they questioned its authenticity because they never thought that positive things could happen in government.

“Well, we have heard stories in this country before; how Presidents will just give notes to NNPC and their wishes got done without records. There was a lot of impunity in this country, but the NNPC GMD is on record, even the Chief Finance Officer, Umar Ajiya, is on record as saying that President Buhari does not interfere in their operations. It used to happen, but under this administration, it has never happened. That was why you had that declared profit.

“But the surprising thing is that it seems some Nigerians are already so used to bad news, that they have got inured to good news. When that good news came, their first instinct was to pick holes in it because all their lives they are used to bad news.

“When that good news came, they couldn’t imagine it, but it happened. I watched your engagement with the Chief Finance Officer of the NNPC, how he explained that profit and anybody who is not cynical, will know that there’s a lot of truth in what the CFO said.

“Yes, I watched the encounter with the CFO, like I said, and he emphasised that one of the things they had to do was to cut costs. Cut costs for operations; cut costs of production, running costs, and it all redounded to the profit that was declared.

“It shows that there was a lot of wastage, extravagance, lack of accountability in the previous years and the man also said both the President and the Vice President never interfere in the operations.

“As we said in the beginning, we knew and heard and it was indeed true that presidents and those in the corridors of power used to give directives to the NNPC to do certain things, which at the end of the day will erode the profitability of the corporation. That doesn’t happen again and that is why that perfect came.”

Asked if the President would be disposed to speaking to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in a private audience, in order to avert the industrial action they just threatened to embark on, Adesina said “why not? The President will do everything that will contribute to industrial harmony in any part of the country, but I also recall that in 2020, just before the COVID lockdown began, ASUU came to see the President, the President personally received ASUU, I was at that meeting, but ASUU still went on strike that lasted about 10 months or more.

“So, what I’ll like to say is that we shouldn’t have the ‘we against them mentality’ in this country. Nigeria belongs to all of us; it belongs to lecturers, it belongs to ASUU, it belongs to those serving in government, it belongs to the ordinary Nigerians. This ‘we against them mentality’ serves nobody any good purpose. Whatever will account for industrial harmony, including on our campuses, let all sides do”, he said.

On the lingering ban of the international social media platform, Twitter, from Nigeria, and the recent shutdown of telecommunication coverage in Zamfara and parts of Katsina State, the presidential spokesman said they were actions taken in the overall interest of security and peace in the country.

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VAT claim is about fiscal federalism- Lagos State

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Lagos State government on Thursday said it has a strong case in its demand to collect the Value Added Tax (VAT).

It said its claims were also about fiscal federalism.

The state said VAT collection would neither impoverish other states nor would the process be cumbersome.

Commissioner for Information Strategy Gbenga Omotoso, who spoke on ‘Your View’ on TVC, said: “Lagos has a solid case in the ongoing legal dispute as the crux of the disagreement is about equity, justice and fairness.

“Whichever way it goes, it will also enrich our jurisprudence and enhance the way we see and relate to the law.

“No matter what, Lagos will always stand for true fiscal federalism.”

The commissioner noted that the volume of air, sea and road transport activities in Lagos puts pressure on the state’s infrastructure.

He added that additional revenue from VAT would facilitate infrastructure development for faster movement of goods and services, as well as economic growth for the benefit of Lagos and other states since prices will fall.

On the demand for a special status for Lagos, Omotoso described Lagos as a ‘giant that carries most of the burden of Nigeria on its shoulders and the engine-room of the nation’s financial and business activities.

“Lagos must be empowered to play this role to the benefit of Nigerians”, he insisted.

Omotoso noted that other states can partner with Lagos to generate more revenue or resources by taking advantage of its huge population and massive market to sell their agricultural produce and other products, while profits realised therefrom would be repatriated to create more wealth for farmers and other producers in such states.

According to him, Lagos almost became an orphan following the movement of the Federal Capital Territory to Abuja in 1991, resulting in modest support from the Federal Government.

He was confident there would be resources for more infrastructure and facilities in transportation, health, education, e.t.c, that will benefit Lagosians and others who troop in every day if the state is allowed to collect VAT.

Omotoso added that the state will sensitise residents concerning its position on the debate.

Also yesterday, Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel said states were entitled to collect VAT.

He was a guest on Arise TV News ‘Morning Show’ aired to mark the state’s 34th anniversary.

According to him, it was wrong for the Federal Government to collect and share revenue from VAT because it is generated from businesses and activities in states.

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday asked all taxpayers to continue remitting VAT to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

She said in an advertorial: “The ruling of the Court of Appeal employs all taxpayers in all the states to continue to collect VAT on behalf of the government in compliance with the VAT Act.”

But, Emmanuel said despite the huge oil and gas investments in the state, Akwa Ibom receives a paltry N2 billion from VAT.

He backed his Rivers and Lagos states counterparts, Nyesom Wike and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, both of whom have signed their VAT bills.

Emmanuel said: “If my brother state has gone to court, it is the same principle that we stand on. I think we are all in the same bucket, the same basket.

“All the 36 states do not need to join at the same time. Today my brother in Rivers State has gone far enough.

“I think the case has gone to the Appeal Court and there is also a stay of execution.

“Let me allow the rule of law. But for states saying they do not need VAT, maybe they do not know the hidden treasure in VAT.

“If today I sell a house in Uyo, or any other person sells a property, the value is enhanced because of the good roads, electricity, security and water I have created, and the value I have added to the property. Why should the VAT on the property not come to me 100 per cent?

“Just look at the money I have spent on capital projects in the first quarter put at N143 billion, if you take 7.5 per cent of that, why should all not come to me?”

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No going back on mega protest at UN Headquarters – Yoruba Nation, others

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Self-determination agitators operating on the platform of Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS) have vowed to go ahead with the grand finale of its one-million-man freedom march at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the United States on Friday.

The grand finale of the march coincides with the ongoing UN Assembly where President, Muhammadu Buhari, is expected to address the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on Friday.

Akintoye in a statement, on Thursday, made available to The Nation by NINAS Director of Communications, Maxwell Adeleye, accused the Federal Government of sponsoring a counter-protest at the United Nations Headquarters tomorrow.

He alleged that the Nigerian Government has started hiring black foreigners living in the United States of America with $500 per head to stage a Pro-Buhari and One Nigeria March opposite the United Nations Headquarters.

Akintoye vowed that the will of the people would prevail no matter how the Federal Government tries to scuttle the NINAS Grand Finale March.

Apart from Akintoye, the Secretary-General, Tony Nnadi, who represents the Lower Niger Congress and Prof. Yusuf Turaki, who represent the Middle-Belt Movement at NINAS have also jointly called on the UN to take urgent step to prevent Nigeria from descending into chaos.

NINAS, which described the 1999 Constitution as a fraud against the people of South and Middle-Belt, having been “enacted without the consent of the people,” demanded the conduct of a regional referendum so that the indigenous people can decide on their nationhood, among others.

All the indigenous people of the South and Middle-Belt in the United States and Canada have been urged to troop out in large number tomorrow.

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TCN lost N1.7bn to Borno vandal activities in nine months – Minister

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The Transmission Company of Nigeria says it has lost N1.7 billion in nine months owing to the destruction of electricity infrastructure in Maiduguri, Borno State. Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, stated this on Thursday at a town hall meeting in Maiduguri.
He said the TCN made the revenue loss from January to September this year.
Aliyu, who was represented by TCN Chairman, Sule Abdulazeez, said the loss recorded was on vandalised electricity lines at an average of 740 megawatts per day.
The minister added that in one month, TCN lost an average of N139 million on the wheeling charges and energy lost in the area.
He said a total number of eight 330Kv towers had been brought down by insurgents in Damaturu and Maiduguri within the period.
The minister said an average cost of reconstructing each tower is about N110 million, translating to about N880 million.
“Five towers were successfully erected and stringing completed on Sept. 17, awaiting energisation before the insurgents brought down another two sets of tower (1193 and 1194) at Auna village the next day September.
“Six towers in Oronta village in Abia state were brought down by vandals in Umuahia, while ten drums of aluminium conductors were carted away disrupting erection of a new tower.
“Also, the Escravos to Lagos pipeline was blasted by vandals disrupting gas supply to over six power generating stations in the western part of the country in 2016.”
As a way forward, the minister recommended executing embedded generation such as the proposed NNPC 50MW gas plant, solar farm, and wind farm in Maiduguri.
Maiduguri and environs have been cut off from public power supply since January as a result of the destruction of power infrastructure by terrorists.

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