By Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq.
There have been several and various arguments and or controversies here and there on whether the National Assembly of Nigeria has the Constitutional powers to make laws on the empowerment of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Inland Revenue Services (herein after referred to as FIRS) to collect tax throughout Nigeria to the exclusion of the States governments or whether it is the States’ governments that have that right or power to so collect?! These arguments have been motivated by a number of courts’ decisions to the favour of the nullity of the Value Added Tax Act and in favour of the States’ governments to collect the said taxes! Many lawyers and many tax practitioners who are non-lawyers have made huge contributions both in support of the Federal Government’s powers to collect same and in support of the States’ governments to collect same, respectively! The entire issue surrounding the VAT mantra has become a legal debate with volumes of legal arguments on each side! I too had promised to make my legal arguments known and I was already in the course of my legal research and in fact, concluded my legal research but about to put same down for onward dissemination via the media when I had to give a rethink that Nigeria is bigger as a federation and in perpetuity and or continuity and all of us as citizens therein cannot be out to wage war against our own government since this country is for us as one and only citizenship! Also, it is not a better decision to support some persons with double or multiple citizenship that when anything happens to Nigeria, they pick up their properties and seek support in other country to which they hold nationality! I then came with a thought not as a moralist but as a socialist in this regard! The question that this paper raises is that are all these arguments and or controversies on the VAT (notwithstanding that there is an appeal to the appellate court where necessary) not enough?! Will it not be better for the National Assembly and the Houses of Assemblies of States to have a joint meeting or to address whatever issue surrounding this hullabaloo, that its noise is enough to make the whole nation deaf?! That is why it is my humble recommendation and or advice that these arguments and or controversies on the VAT issue are enough and we should be thinking of the solutions now rather than the controversies!
In my humble view, the roles of government at all tiers go beyond claiming rights and or powers but to ensure that all its parts are united together and not broken into pieces! Also, the government should be aware of some secessionists and people of biased minds against Nigeria and its leadership as well as people of sentiments be it political, ethnic or whatever that are out there to use every opportunity to fuel hatred and disunity in Nigeria and some might be sponsored to canvass arguments to the destruction of Nigeria and satisfaction of their ill-fated mission (but God will always forbid their success!). Therefore, the Nigerian government is humbly advised to apply serious wisdom in resolving this issue! The entire polity is thrown into confusion already! Tax payers are into confusion already! The whole nation is almost becoming ‘a thing falling apart while the centre cannot hold itself together! Are these controversies not enough yet for a peaceful co-existence of Nigeria?! I dare say ‘Yes’! They are indeed enough! We should all start offering solutions to put things in Nigeria together correctly and not defeat the rule of law and a peaceful society and or a peaceful nation that Nigeria has earned over the decades!
Finally, therefore, I hope and believe that wise counsel would guide Nigerian leadership at all the tiers and or levels of government in making a better decision all for the best, unity and progress of Nigeria! The government should also be well guided by the provisions of section 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which provides thus ‘2. (1) Nigeria shall be one indivisible and indissoluble Sovereign State to be known by the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. (2) Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.’.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria! God bless the Nigerian leaderships!
Written By Obioma Ezenwobodo Esq
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