It is rather unfortunate that we find ourselves in this imbroglio. In order to dissect these ongoing issues it is important we approach it holistically.
Nigeria is currently run under the principle of federalism and under this principle there are cardinal points upon which it operates.
These cardinal points are thus:
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That the central government which is the federal government is a uniting force or bond.
That the state governments through a covenant agreed to come together having regards to their visible dissimilarities to form a single statehood. It is upon these two cardinal points that federalism as a system of government was birthed. This simply presupposes ab initio that the federal government only exists at the pleasure of the state governments. The continued controversy over control and restructuring has exacerbated lately by heating up the polity.
It is therefore important to stress that the federal government should understand and abide by the sacred principle upon which federalism was established by respecting and granting the individual nations ample rooms to exist independent of the rest and exercising uninterrupted autonomy within their respective territorial jurisdiction while sharing together the reduced, concentrated and specified objectives. Only upon this premise can federalism as a system of government work impeccably.
Federalism is a reflection of the inherent diversities in a society. It is a system fashioned to hold different nations together in a state, while allowing each of them a degree of autonomy in certain areas.
The position of the law on collection of VAT under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The Value Added Tax (VAT) was introduced in Nigeria in 1993 through the promulgation of Decree 102 of 1993, which came into force on the 24th of August 1993 as a federal tax. This introduction was seen as a significant source of income for all the levels of government at that time.
Since 1993, the Value Added Tax Decree 102, had been severally amended and the latest being the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Act of 2007. Prof. Abiola Sanni was able to capture the complexities that exists in the current administration of VAT by the federal government where he expressed concerns on the continued administration of VAT by the federal government and the Lagos State challenge on the legality of the federal government to continue the administration of VAT under the current tax regime arrangement.
In conclusion the current imbroglio between the Rivers State Government and the FIRS on the right to administer the collection of VAT would have been averted if there were strict adherence to the principle of federalism.
Nwachukwu Chika Macbenson
LLM (HULL) BL. LLB (IFE)
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