Afenifere, a Yoruba socio-political organization, has challenged the Federal Government to halt its actions and policies that are preventing Nigeria from practicing true federalism.
Afenifere was reacting to the ruling by the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Value Added Tax, VAT.
Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, while delivering judgments on August 9th in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, filed by the Attorney General for Rivers State against the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Attorney General of the Federation had said that allowing the federal government, through FIRS, to continue to collect VAT will be negating the spirit of the federal system of government.
Reacting, Afenifere commended the judge for the ruling and the Rivers State government for initiating the legal process.
Afenifere, in a statement by its spokesman, Jare Ajayi, said Pam’s ruling has earned the Judiciary in Nigeria an epaulette as an institution that is not only capable of ensuring justice but is actually working on deepening federalism in the country.
According to Ajayi: “Afenifere observes that the manner of distributing VAT revenue is patently unfair, unjust and is pitched against the hardworking while rewarding the indolent by a manner of speaking. For instance, Lagos State which generates as much as 55 per cent of this revenue receives less than 10 per cent while most states where less than 5 % is generated get the same amount that Lagos gets. It is quite distasteful.
“The sum collected by the FIRS is shared among the three tiers of government, with the Federal Government taking 15 per cent, states 50 per cent; local governments, 35 per cent. From the foregoing, it would be seen that the federal government is taking an undeserved larger chunk because when 50 % is shared among the 36 states, what each state gets is a paltry sum. Same for 774 local government councils that share 36 per cent.
“The state governments should use the opportunity provided by these landmark judgments to explore other areas that the Constitution empowers them to assert themselves as federalists. In other words, they should step up actions that will liberate the states from the stronghold of the federal government that has turned Nigeria into a Unitary State – in contradistinction to the federal spirit prescribes by the Constitution.
“They should rest assured of Afenifere support as they give vent to power devolution and entrenchment of true federalism in Nigeria.”