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THE VALUE-ADDED TAX CONTROVERSY IN NIGERIA

NOTE: First published on September 11, 2021. The publishing date that appears on the tab is actually the date that it was uploaded on this new site. The point is that, although issues herein may still be current (depending on…), please don’t mistake this piece as current news.

This is “No Bullshitting”, by Harry Agina.

Greetings, folks!

I had my reasons in the year 2020 when, informally, I pronounced Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State the “No Bullshitting Hero” governor of Nigeria. I am proud that the accolade was, and is still not frivolous; the man continues to make me proud as a governor in many ways. This time, I speak of his courageous “Talk-na-do” trailblazing move to institute true Fiscal Federalism in Nigeria, in line with our constitution, which has been fucked up, or bastardized if you will, over the past years.

But, please don’t get me wrong now, y’hear me so? No Bullshitting Blog (NBB) does not endorse a man, we endorse the man’s acts or deeds; and I will explain the full import of this statement, pronto! It’s about the motto of ‘Mr. No Bullshitting (Mr. NB)’—OBJECTIVITY-CUM-SINCERITY—which equals INTEGRITY. This means that we only endorse the good stuffs that Wike does, which happen to be quite numerous if we include all his projects and humanitarian largesse to victims of mayhem. We will never endorse any bad stuff by him. Regular fans understand what I mean when I say ‘we’, but I will explain for the sake of new readers. ‘We’ is for the blog trinity—‘Me’, ‘Myself’, and ‘I’—among whom is ‘Mr. No Bullshitting.’

Hahaha; I can just imagine a new reader who doesn’t know about the NBB Trinity, wondering if the dude who wrote this shit has gone loco, or bunkers. Nope, at least not yet; I’m still cool…smiles. Just keep tuning in, and you would soon grasp the joke of the trinity. Anyway, back to the issue; Governor Wike is definitely not perfect, but the good stuffs that he is doing as a leader, outweigh his bad. Now, you and I know that all that we can ask of any mortal is for his or her good to outweigh the bad, shikana, considering the fact that NO MORTAL IS PERFECT, meeeeeen!!!

Actually, I have to confess that I do need to look at any of Wike’s boo boos and condemn him too, so that I do not seem to be favorably biased. Meanwhile, I maintain that every observer in Nigeria is aware that Governor Wike is a courageous action-and-performance governor; whosever that tries to debate this does not even deserve a response from me. It would be obvious that the person is a hypocritical enemy of Wike, who LACKS THE INTEGRITY to speak objectively and sincerely, period! And, in my book, whosoever that cannot hate a man to kingdom come, and still be good to give that enemy his due credit when he is good, is simply a hateful, hypocritical motherfucker, meeeeeen!!!

Anyway, I have said all the foregoing just to embelish my current topic to praise Governor Wike for his “Talk-na-do” trailblazing lead in the matter of true federalism in Nigeria. All the other ‘Talk-na-talk’, and talk, and talk leaders shout, make noise, and debate all year long, and all through their tenures, in feeble unproductive demand for true federalism in Nigeria. But, my man Wike is the one that “bells the cat”, as he has often done in such federal matters. He has taken the bull by the horn, and forced the hand of the court to re-establish or fix some of the bastardized provisions of our constitution. With the recent court ruling, any state governor who does not follow Wike to wrestle his state’s Value Added Tax (VAT) money ownership from the federal government is a total idiot, period! Well, I do know why some states would not make the move—the collection of VAT by federal government favors them. Such states cheat others when the VAT is pooled to the central table, because it is not shared among the states in equitable ways that have much regards for merit in contribution. The bottom line, though, is that our constitution does not support the practice, period! Federal VAT administration is not in our constitution’s “Exclusive List” of the territories under the control of the federal government. Why is the FIRS fighting, meeeeeen?!!!

Similarly, when the six states of the Yoruba land teamed up to launch their regional security outfit, “Amoteken”, I applauded it for the same reason. We must force the hand of our Court to adjudicate on the implementation of whatever true federalism provisions that are contained in our constitution. It could be indirectly in some cases, such as settling for the regional “Amotekun” and its counterparts, as a temporary compromise for the ideal State Police system. And, ‘Mr. NB lambasted the cowardly southeast governors, and other regions across Nigeria, who were too scared to follow suit with their own regional security outfits. As I always explain with every opportunity, I was/am particularly angry with the Igbo governors for the reason that they allowed a security void, which Nnamdi Kanu tried to fill with his proscribed IPOB and its ESN. In turn, this led to the indiscriminate evil massacre of innocent Igbo youths by ethno-religious bigots in the Army.

In both cases of “Amotenkun” and VAT moves, the Court had no choice but to declare what our constitution says. Smartly, Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has already followed suit and enacted his own VAT law. This is how our 36 governors can team up together and legally force the federal government to withdraw from all the illegal or unconstitutional practices that have fucked up our federalism, meeeeeeeeeen!!!

Nigeria’s constitution does contain lots of true federalism provisions that can change things around for the better, without necessarily amending the constitution. The problem is that some leaders bastardize those provisions in practice, because it suits their selfish plots. A good demonstration of such selfish reasons is in a statement that was made a couple of days back (Sept 9, 2021) by the Gombe State governor, Inuwa Yahaya. In response to the move by Wike and Sanwo-Olu to wrestle the collection of VAT from the federal government, Yahaya said, no, “admonished” them, as it was stated, to “back down on their demand, WARNING that such policy could leave people of his state worse off…there will be hunger in Gombe State if Lagos and Rivers states go ahead with their VAT move.”

Yeah, I know; the news reporters might have unprofessionally used inappropriate words recklessly, thereby misquoting the governor. Otherwise, I would have asked; what the fuck made him to think that he should use the word ‘admonish’ to address Wike and Sanwo-Olu, for pursuing the rights of the peoples of their own states?  You know, I do subscribe to the doctrine of “Brother’s Keeper” in general. And, it would be very insensitive, in fact, evil of me, if I do not worry about the welfare of Gombe State citizens. We are all supposed to be brothers and sisters in one Nigeria quite alright; but, I have to ask—up to what extent does the great “brothers-keeper” practice go? Quoted correctly, or not, my spontaneous and sincere reaction to Governor Yahaya’s “warning” is that it is nonsensical. And, trust me when I say that my position is absolutely devoid of sectional or tribal sentiments; I would say exactly the same if an Igbo governor utters such “admonition.” Yahaya has not done anything wrong to ‘Mr. NB’, so, ‘we’ are cool with him. If I should have a chat with him, I would be VERY NICE, but I would have to ask, one frank man to another (hopefully he is frank):

What the fuck concerns Wike and Sanwo-Olu with whether Gombe state citizens go hungry or not, huh? You are supposed to collect your own VAT, and then work hard in other ways to deliver the election campaign promise that you made to your electorate, to provide for them, when you sought their votes. You are not supposed to do that by sitting on your butt, waiting to share other states’ resources at the end of every month; you do it by applying your brain and look inward for “Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).” You should not depend on other states to fulfill your campaign promise; if you can’t do it yourself, then you need to throw in the towel and quit. Maybe we should merge your state to another state if it is not “viable.” These are realities and facts, without unwarranted sentiments, meeeeeen!!!

Finally, I must join other Nigerians to condemn a terrible practice in the central administration of VAT. There is a saying that “When you reject the devil, you must also reject all his possessions and works.” It is so ridiculous that some states reject alcohol in their domain as the devil; yet, they knowingly accept and enjoy VAT money from the devil in other states…I know, that you know, that I ain’t bullshitting ya, meeeeen!!!

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