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RSG, Corporate Bodies Parley As VAT Law Takes Effect – Dismisses Media Reports On Revenue Distribution

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that with the infraction of the constitutional provision on collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) addressed, his administration has commenced full implementation of the State’s VAT Law without hesitation.
The governor, at an interactive session with representatives of corporate organisations at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt, last Wednesday, said it was necessary to clarify the position of the law to the business community in the state.
Such understanding, he said, would enable them not to fall prey to the antics that could be deployed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) officials, who think they could use force to collect what does not belong to them.
Wike explained that FIRS had in the past collected VAT in the state with impunity, knowing it was unconstitutional for them to do so.
According to him, his administration challenged their impunity in court and the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, in its declarative ruling had stated the constitution is right in vesting powers to collect VAT in the state government within its jurisdiction.
“When we challenged the Federal Government through the Office of the Attorney-General and FIRS in court, do you know what they did? They wrote this letter dated 1st of July, 2021. Remember, it was in 2020 that we filed this action against them. But see how corrupt this country is.
“Corruption is not only about kickbacks, it is also about doing something illegally. We were in court in 2020.Then on July 1st 2021, the chairman of FIRS wrote to the National Assembly through the office of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“He was asking them to amend the constitution and insert VAT under item 58 of the exclusive legislative list, when we were already challenging that it is not their responsibility to collect VAT. They knew that what they were doing was not the right thing.”
Wike stated that his responsibility in office included making sure that Rivers people are not denied their entitlements.
He described as unfortunate that FIRS has resorted to writing threatening letters to intimidate corporate organisation to pay to them even after they have lost their appeal that sought a stay of execution of the declarative ruling on VAT collection in the state.
Wike urged the business community to be ready to pay VAT for the month of September, 2021, and subsequent months to the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service.
According to him, he has already assented to the Rivers State VAT law passed by the state House of Assembly.
The governor warned corporate organisations not to feign ignorance of the State VAT Law.
He declared that the state government would not hesitate to seal up the premises of any company that defaults.
“We are going to inaugurate the Tax Appeal Commission by Friday which will be headed by a retired judge of the state.”
Wike described the disparity in VAT proceeds and what is given to the states as an inexplicable form of injustice that weakens the performance potential of the states.
“Let me tell you the injustice in this country. In the month of June 2021, which we shared in July, VAT collected in Rivers State was N15.1billion. What they gave us was N4.7billion. See the gross injustice and the money includes contracts awarded by the Rivers State Government.
“This is not an issue of party; it is the issues of infraction of the constitution, issues of illegality. Look at Lagos; it is not the same party with me. In the month of June, 2021, the VAT collected in Lagos was N46.4billion but see what Lagos got, N9.3billion. Have you seen the injustice in the country? VAT collected in Kano was N2.8billion and they gave them N2.8billion. Is there any justice in this country?”
Wike described as morally offensive a situation where Rivers State Government will award contracts for state roads worth N200billion and the FIRS will illegally receive 7.5 per cent of the amount as VAT to be distributed among the states.
“So, you allow me to call the big companies, award contracts to them, then you, FIRS, come and collect the tax and then go and distribute it to other states who are not awarding contracts. How does it sound?”
The governor noted that nobody has been courageous to challenge the illegally perpetrated by FIRS and that history will be kind to Rivers State to have mustered the courage to speak out and also challenge it.
According to Wike, Nigeria is a constitutional democracy and not a military government where rule of law is grossly disregarded.
“I overheard the FIRS chairman saying that I’ll soon know the power of the Federal Government. And that they’ll show me that they have the power to muzzle the Judiciary. You can muzzle them as you want. Let the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court interpret the law so that all of us will go and rest.
“Use all the power you want to use, but history will be written one day and those who will allow themselves to be used to muzzle and misinterpret the law will face God one day.”
Wike pointed out that it is not possible for all states to be at equal standing or be mechanically placed in position of performance without allowing them to exercise their rights within the condition.
He advocated that the federating states should be allowed to explore their creative abilities in utilising the functions as provided in the constitution in order to grow.
On his words, “The powers have already been devolved in the constitution but the federal government does not allow us. All they want us to do is to come and beg and I say I will not beg. Give me what the law says I should get.”
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has dismissed as false, online social media reports claiming that the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had alluded that states which forbid sales of alcoholic beverages within their jurisdiction can no longer continue to enjoy Value Added Tax (VAT) receipts from Rivers State.
A statement signed by the Special Assistant (Media) Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri, last Wednesday, said that the false online publication was only a figment of the imagination of its purveyors, adding that such unprofessional report was aimed at promoting disaffection and disunity in the country, and pitching one ethno-religious group against the other.
The statement read, “The attention of the Rivers State Government has been drawn to a false online publication credited to the Governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike.
“In the said publication circulating on social media, the purveyors of lies alleged that Governor Wike in a state-wide broadcast on Monday, September 6, 2021, asserted that states which forbid sales of alcoholic beverages within their jurisdiction can no longer continue to enjoy Value Added Tax (VAT) receipts generated from Rivers State.
“While it is true that Governor Wike made a state-wide broadcast on the aforementioned date, shortly after the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt dismissed Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) request for a stay of execution on the judgment of the court which declared Rivers State as constitutionally empowered to collect VAT and other related taxes in the state, he never said states that forbid sales and consumption of alcoholic beverages will no longer benefit from VAT generated in Rivers State.
“The Rivers State Government considers this obnoxious publication malicious, politically motivated and intended to fan the embers of hatred and cause public disaffection.
“We, hereby urge the public to disregard the said publication”, the statement added.

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Rivers’ll Ensure Safe, Secure Environment For Economic Growth -Wike .

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that his administration would continue to support security agencies in the state to ensure a safe and secure environment for the economic prosperity of citizens.
He said the Rivers State Neighbourhood Safety Corps, the Operation Sting and the revitalised C4i security outfits were set up to help provide security to stimulate growth and prosperity of all in Rivers State.
The governor spoke through the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, at the 2021 Conference/Annual General meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Rivers State chapter, in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
“This administration has embarked on aggressive infrastructural development and a very deliberate urban renewal efforts around the capital to attract local and foreign investors to stimulate our economy.
“We have also opened up local governments through quality road networks. Upgrade of various social and recreational facilities in various local government areas,” he said.
He commended the state chapter of the NIPR for the choice of the theme of the conference: “Nigeria’s Security Situation: A Factor in Reputation and National Development”, adding that stakeholders must begin to act in a very different, drastic and positive strategy to remedy the already battered reputation of Nigeria.
He urged the NIPR to use its expertise and experience to thrive to galvanise and stimulate the populace and government at various levels for the resuscitation of citizens sense of pride and responsibility of whatever was left of the nation’s image and reputation.
“All hands must be on deck, especially reputation managers to call on government at all levels to begin to act in ways and manner that will help to revive the battered image of this country,” he added.
Welcoming guests and participants to the conference, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, who is also the state chairman of NIPR, commended the cordial relationship existing between the institute and the state government under the leadership of Governor Wike who is a honorary fellow of the institute.
“Governor Wike has been very supportive of all the activities of the Institute. That is what you also get from a visionary leader who has changed the landscape of Rivers State with infrastructure, with various developmental projects that touch the lives of the ordinary man,” he said.
Nsirim said the state chapter of NIPR was proud to associate with Governor Wike for the giant strides he has recorded and would continue to record until the end of his tenure in 2023.
“As a chapter that is responsive to the development of Nigeria, we have chosen the theme for this year’s conference as our own way of contributing to the national discourse,” he said.
He said the conference would produce a blueprint that would guide national discourse and urged participants to contribute robustly to the conversation.
“It is expected that the fallout of the conference will re-engineer national security and national development with the aim to put our country on the path of rapid growth,” he said.
In his speech, the President and Chairman of Governing Council of NIPR, Malam Mukhtar Sirajo, emphasised on the need for all Nigerians to collaborate to fight insecurity currently confronting the country’s economic and political stability.
He welcomed the theme of the conference, saying that it was coming at the time the institute had gotten sufficient worry about national security, peace and economic development.
In his keynote address, Dr. Ike Neliaku, chronicled the increasing violent crimes that had claimed thousands of lives in the various parts of Nigeria, and submitted that the rising insecurity situation in the country had impacted and would continue to impact negatively on corporate and national reputation.
He said the worrisome development would have concomitant consequence on individual and national development.
Chairman of the conference, Chief Felix Otuwarikpo, said the conference was put together to dissect the current carnage affecting the Nigerian nation.
“As an institute, we will leverage on the conference to proffer solutions to the security challenges affecting the nation,” he said.
The conference also featured the presentation of awards for good public relations and community development to some distinguished members and organisations.

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Church Of Nigeria Honours Wike, Sanwo-Olu, Akeredolu, Others

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The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has bestowed awards for exemplary leadership qualities in a challenging economy and dedication in the service of God and humanity on the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and Ogun State Governor, Adedapo Abiodun.
Also honoured is the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Emmanuel Abayomi, with an award for quality and equitable healthcare delivery.
The awardees were honoured at the standing committee meeting of the Church of Nigeria, at the Diocese of Lagos, Archbishop Adebola and Oluranti Ademowo Resource Centre, Faith Plaza, Bariga, Lagos State.
The Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, who conferred the awards on the recipients, said the political leaders were considered for the award for their outstanding role, courageous leadership, and standing firm in defense of Nigerians against insecurity, provision of basic infrastructure to the citizenry and the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
Addressing the congregation on the state of the nation and the role of the church, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, admonished the leadership of the church to encourage its members to be part of the governance process in the country.
The governor noted that a situation whereby Christians leave governance for politicians alone is no longer obtainable.
According to Wike, the effect of bad leadership will also affect the church if they remain passive to the issue of governance.
“You must be part of choosing leadership. Don’t say you have no role, you have a role. When you don’t participate, bad leaders will emerge and when bad leadership emerges, you are part of it.
“You must encourage your people to be part of leadership. I didn’t go to any school to study leadership.
“So, nobody should say that as a Christian you cannot be a governor, no. The head of SUBEB in my state is a priest and you can see the leadership he has given to that agency today. You will feel proud about it. That used to be the most corrupt agency, but today it is headed by a priest and you can see the difference.”
Wike decried the inherent injustice that has characterised the Nigerian State, and urged the church to speak against socio-political issues adversely affecting the progress of the country.
“We say we are all one Nigeria. We went to World Bank to borrow money to do specific projects. One of the states that make up Nigeria I hear is Rivers State. And I also know in paying this money back to World Bank, money that comes from the resources of my state will be used in paying back this money. But my state was denied to have projects from that loan.”
The Rivers State governor said a situation where states depend on the Federal Government to survive can no longer be tenable, and insisted that states must be allowed to collect revenues such as Value Added Tax (VAT) to enable them improve the welfare of their people.
“You have gone to take loan and I am one of those states that will pay back those loan and you deny me to benefit from the projects that that money will be used for. I have no problem with that.
“Allow me the one (VAT) the Constitution says I am entitled to, let me collect that one and develop my state.”
He regretted that some governors in Nigeria have refused to think out of the box on how to boost economic activities in their states.
“There is flood in my state, it requires N200millon, I will go to Abuja to beg. Even as a governor, I will knee down before a DG of an agency of government. You will knee down for a director just because of N300million. That is the status of some of the governors of some states.”
In his remarks, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, commended the church for its support, and announced the waiver of N2billion for land acquired by the Church of Nigeria in Lagos State.
The governor stated that Nigeria and the rest of the world are going through difficult times amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, and used the occasion to canvass for mass vaccination of the citizens.
The Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba, while speaking on the theme of the conference: “Abiding in Christ: God’s Panacea in an Unstable World”, lamented that Nigeria was fast becoming a land flowing with tears and blood because of the impact of terror, banditry, herdsman attacks on communities and kidnapping.
He said a situation in which communities that are predominantly Christians are targeted one after another in some parts of Kaduna State and North-Central of Nigeria was unacceptable.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to brand the bandits and herders attackers as terrorists and let them be treated as such.”
The Primate urged Nigerians to avail themselves the opportunity 2023 general election offer to exercise their right to choose new leaders.
He appealed to the Federal Government to urgently address the free fall in the value of the country’s currency because of the attendant impact on the store of value and confidence of investors.

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Rivers Begins Process To Check Flooding

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The Rivers State Government has said that it was working with relevant agencies to roll out the process that would check perennial flooding in the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, disclosed this at a media briefing in Port Harcourt, last Wednesday.
Nsirim, therefore, called on those living and doing business in the state to play their part in line with the programme that would be executed by government to address the problem of flooding.
He frowned at the situation where residents of Port Harcourt had turned the drainage systems into refuse bins, and warned that “that is not what it should be.
“The present administration under Governor Nyesom Wike is desirous to make Rivers State a destination of choice and that is why the government has embarked on massive infrastructural development in line with its urban renewal programme.
“So, what is expected of those living and doing business in Rivers State now, is to co-operate with government to ensure that the urban renewal programme and the plan by government to make this state a destination of choice is realised,” he said.
He noted that the state government could not do it alone as it required the support of corporate organisations, civil society groups, religious organisations and the media to enlighten their publics on the need to behave as responsible citizens.
He called on the media to embark on massive enlightenment programmes along the line of the roles of citizens in checking flooding in the state.
“We believe that if the citizens cooperate with government, as government is out to ensure that everyone living and doing business in the state does so in a healthy environment, we believe that in the next few days or weeks we will find a solution to this (flooding),” he said.
Nsirim also announced the names of entrants selected for the essay competition on the title, “Our State Our Responsibility” introduced under the second phase of the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign of the ministry launched at the beginning of this month.
He said those shortlisted were expected to be at the conference room of the ministry by 11am on Monday, September 27, 2021, for a physical test to ascertain their original ownership.
Those shortlisted are: Jessica Hart, Samuel William, Amarachi Chimezie, Jasper Dorcas, Jaja Tamunoimiegba Christian, Sophia Oyibo, Blessing Pepple, Anyiam kelechukwu, Deborah Adegbami, Gift Samuel, Okiche Golden, Okiche Miracle, Orovwigwo Deborah, Otuka Goodluck and Ziga Paago.

By: Beemene Taneh

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