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Afenifere Backs Rivers On VAT

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A pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere has hailed the ruling of a High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Value Added Tax (VAT), saying that it would enhance true federalism in the country.
The group also called on the Federal Government to stop its actions and policies that are impeding the practice of true federalism in Nigeria.
In a press release issued by Afenifere, signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi and made available to newsmen in Ibadan, yesterday, the group also commended the Rivers State Government for initiating the legal process.
Afenifere noted that the rulings by Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt on August 9 and on September 6, 2021 have earned the Judiciary in Nigeria an epaulet as an institution that is not only capable of ensuring justice but is actually working on deepening federalism in the country.
The group noted further they observed 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 citing an example of 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.
They described it as distasteful.
They added that 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 adding that the Federal Government is taking undeserved larger chunk because when 50 % is shared among the 36 states, what each state gets is a paltry sum, adding that same applies for 774 local government councils that share 36 per cent.
Ajayi then called on the state governments to use the opportunity provided by these judgments to explore other areas that the Constitution empowers them to assert themselves as federalists, adding that states should step up actions that will liberate them from the stronghold of the federal government that has turned Nigeria into a unitary state.
He listed areas in which the states need to assert themselves to include agriculture, health, education, electricity, physical planning, title registration, registration and production of vehicle number plates and casino licensing e.t.c. as Lagos State Government did in the past.
Afenifere also said that the attempt by the Federal Government to establish farm estates in all the 109 senatorial districts in Nigeria was another way of bringing back the rejected cattle colony and RUGA.
According to Ajayi, “To us in Afenifere, the attempt by the Federal Government to establish so-called Farm Estates in all the 109 Senatorial Districts is another way of imposing the rejected cattle colony and RUGA on Nigerians. It is also another way of defying the federal spirit of the Constitution as lands are vested in the state governors.
“If the governors granted the lands being asked for, cattle colonies would be established in these estates as revealed in the view expressed by the Executive Secretary of the National Agriculture Land Development Agency (NALDA), Prince Paul Ikonne.
“States should reject this attempt, particularly since the farm estates NALDA is using as an excuse to grab lands for the Federal Government “are familiar territory for many states, especially in the South-West that inherited farm estates from the defunct regional government of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.”
Afenifere, however, told the Federal Government to stop its actions and policies that are impeding the practice of true federalism in the country, adding that the Rivers State Government has further enhanced the practice of true federalism bases on the litigation it initiated against the Federal Government on Value Added Tax (VAT).
According to Afenifere, the rulings by Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt on August 9 and on September 6, this year, have earned the Judiciary in Nigeria an epaulet as an institution that is not only capable of ensuring justice but is actually working on deepening federalism in the country.
Justice Pam had while delivering judgments on August 9, in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, filed by the Attorney-General for Rivers State (plaintiff), against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (first defendant) and the Attorney General of the Federation (second defendant) had said that allowing the Federal Government, through FIRS, to continue to collect VAT would negate the spirit of the federal system of government that Nigeria is supposed to run.
The judge reiterated the position, while ruling on Tuesday, September 7, the case brought by the FIRS.
“Afenifere commends the judge for this. Going by to item 62, Part 1, 2nd Schedule of the 1999 (constitution as amended) and the VAT Act, Cap. V1, LFN, 2004 (as amended by the Finance Act, 2020), the states are empowered to collect VAT. The power of the federal government on taxes is limited to the profits/income of persons/companies, capital gains and stamp duties on instruments, but does not extend to VAT as attested to by a Federal High Court judgment delivered on December 11, 2020 in a case between Emmanuel Chukwuka Ukala v. FIRS.
“Afenifere observes that the manner of distributing VAT revenue is patently unfair, unjust and is pitched against the hardworking people, 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 five per cent 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 undeserved larger chunk because when 50 per cent 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.”
Afenifere also called on the state governments to use the opportunity provided by the landmark judgments to explore other areas that the constitution empowers them to assert themselves as federalists, saying 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 contradiction to the federal spirit prescribes by the constitution. They should be rest assured of Afenifere support as they give vent to power devolution and entrenchment of true federalism in Nigeria.
“Areas in which the states need to assert themselves include agriculture, health, education, electricity, physical planning, title registration, registration and production of vehicle number plates and casino licensing, as Lagos State Government did in the past.”
Afenifere, however, suggested that a roundtable discussion could be held between states and Federal Government to clear the fear on possible multiple taxation. The group also advised FIRS to resist the temptation to keep appealing the judgment that empowers states to collect local taxes, saying “such a step is another assault on the federal system that we are supposed to be running.”

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Why We Chose Mayor of Housing As Patron -Govt House Choir

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Members of the Rivers State Government House Choir have explained the carefulness exercised in picking the Mayor of Housing, My-ACE China, as the first patron of the ensemble.
Mr China was installed as Patron and member of the ensemble Sunday last at a colourful but solemn ceremony marked by some of the most exhilarating songs.
Explaining the painstaking process, one of the choristers, Kate Ogan, who is also a media personality, said nobody enters into the Ensemble without serious background check.
Ogan said: “We saw a lot of qualities in My-ACE China including his exploits promoting human capacity development in Rivers State. When we identified these qualities in him, we resolved after investigations to bring him closer.
“It is clear that no one person can do everything for a society or a state, so we need others to help to develop people. Let people take a cue from My-ACE China in seeking ways to develop the society.”
She told newsmen that some people were usually scared of business people but that the Government House Choir were comfortable with him. “We couldn’t have just brought him or anybody in without background checks or investigations. Each of us was also screened before we were accepted. We also pray before we touch anyone. We prayed and we got the leading to go ahead.”
Another member, MrAsueiza Ezekiel Iyalla, who sings in the alto segment, said they saw in the Mayor of Housing, somebody full of respect to God. “We see someone that can bring value to this choir. We only had a very short meeting and he said things that would amaze us about things that can bring value to this project and this state. Working with him, we will go higher and higher.
“We appeal to other Nigerians to come and see the roles they can play to lift the talents of Rivers people. We have the best organist in Nigeria. If people come in, they can see exportable talents.”
In his opinion, Mike Julius, bass singer, said the Mayor of Housing, despite being in real estate, finds time for God. “He takes out time to commune with his Maker. He is also a singer. So, we bring him closer to see the talents we have in this state. Today, he has joined the choir of the Government House and he came to see what he can do to lift it higher.”
Reacting after the presentation of his induction plaque, the Mayor of Housing, who was accompanied by his wife, Chidinma China, said he saw it as a huge privilege. He said the onus and responsibility of taking the best part and the best light from Rivers State to the rest of the world is an honour to him.
|And, it is a privilege I find very rare. It is rather like a spiritual conferment on me than a choral role from this or any other choral group for that matter. I feel like a man called into ecclesiastical mission.
“This will spur me to not only make sure they get all the resources and personnel they need to be world class, but to ensure that they are seen as world class. This is because we live in a 21st century reality that nobody sees or values you if you are not known. It is my onus to make sure that this beautiful choir in this Government House in this beautiful entity called Rivers State is known all over the world as the best of what Rivers State has to export.”
He said Nigeria has the best of the best in talent, art, music, and culture. What is wrong is that we have been carried away by politics and eking a living that we tend to neglect these things.
“Neglect leads to death and whatever you neglect dies. So, my message to Nigerians is, don’t neglect the rich heritage of where we come from; especially our skills and talents. You will be surprised how much more that would get us to our destination than politics and the like.”
It was gathered that the umbrella body of the Government House Choir is the Riv-Harmonious Mission Ensemble.
It was further gathered that the Choir moves out when representing the State Government or on an exclusive Government Programme. Also, in very selective outings in stand-up performances or own concerts.
However, for exclusively private performances, they go by their umbrella name – Riv-Harmonious Mission Ensemble.
The Rivers group is said to be made up of professionals in terms of singing and occupation. They have in graduates in diverse fields as well as career professionals – Business men, chartered accountants (ICAN), On Air Personalities (OAPs), entrepreneurs, etc.
Some of them have more than 30 years of singing and instrumental careers. That is said to be only possible with commitment, dedication, passion and basically, service to God.
Talent base:
Many say the biggest asset in Rivers State may not be in oil/gas but in the reservoir of talents that abound, plus human capital development.
That could be why whenever a governor that values human capital steps into office, the state seems to vibrate: scholarships to study anywhere, training schemes, ICT schemes, industrial attachments, SME loans, etc.
The next big asset for the state is said to be agric which goes from crop yields (especially cassava and palm oil) and aquatic resources.
In talents, the dances and drama of the state have produced world beaters but it can do much more if the state’s leaders are intentional about it.
Many would easily talk about the Mercy Johnsons of this world, Hilda Dokubo, Yibo Koko, Julius Agwu, Duncan Mighty, Sam Dede the Isakaba man, and of late, Burna Boy. But many may never know that a big voice asset is an ensemble in the womb of power, the Brick House, which is the Government House of Rivers State. Yes, the same place that oozes power, crisis, and threat.
The name of the Chapel is called the Chapel of Everlasting Grace’.
On the installation evening, the Music Director, Mr Enitoun Ezekiel Iyalla, after the opening prayers and directions of the reverend who is the Chaplain, Dr Joseph Joseph, took the Choir on a windy lane of many classics.
The nigh was highlighted by soprano solo by a man that does not see physically (vision impaired) but who is being compared with the greatest sopranos in the world, Cameroon Ayebatari.
The highlight of songs was ‘Peace, Be Still” which was dedicated to the affairs of Rivers State where peace and still waters are known to be most needed.
Then, the conferment of Patron and honorary membership to the Mayor of Housing. Those who knew the Mayor of Housing talked about versatility, academic brilliance (best graduating student in both secondary school in Jos with 9 As and in the UNN), generosity, and above all, his fire burning spiritual life.
The partnership resolved with determination to promote the choir beyond being an ensemble in an enclosure. The coming of the Mayor of Housing may ensure global audience for the Choir.

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FG Appeals To Youths To Shelve Protest

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President Bola Tinubu, yesterday appealed to Nigerian youths to shelve their plans to carry out protests.

Alhaji Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, disclosed this while addressing State House correspondents after a meeting with the President.

According to Idris, the President does not see any need for protest, he has listened to them, and asked them to await government’s response to all their pleas.

“Mr President has asked me to again inform Nigerians that he listens to them, especially the young people that are trying to protest.

“Mr President listens to them, he takes what they say seriously and he is working assiduously to ensure that this country is good not just for today but also for the future,” he said.

He said the government was doing a lot of things to cushion the hardship experienced by Nigerians.

“Today, the National Assembly has expeditiously passed the bill on National Minimum Wage. You can see how the President is working, it was transmitted only yesterday and today it has been passed.

“A lot of other interventions that the President has put in place are also going to be looked at expeditiously in the interest of Nigerians.

“So, there is no need for protest, the young people out there should listen to the President and allow him more time to see to the realisation of all the goodies he has for them,” Idris said.

The minister said the highlights of other policies to cushion the effect of the hardship Nigerians were feeling included distribution of grains and rice by the Federal Government to state governments.

“Like I said that time it is just the necessary first step. Government is going to continue in that direction, assuring that whatever intervention the Federal Government has put in place will go to those that should benefit.

“The Federal Government is looking at strategies that every intervention will go directly to those who benefit from those interventions not middle men intercepting them along the way,” he said.

He added that another important intervention by the Federal Government was the students loan.

“Mr President is very passionate about it, that everyone that should go to school will have the opportunity to do so.

“It is no longer a time for our young men and women who have passed examinations to go to tertiary institutions not to be able to do that because their parents cannot pay for their fees,” said the minister.

He said the government was also perfecting a scheme to support graduates of universities and polytechnics that were not able to get jobs until they got employed.

“The whole idea is that no one is left behind, it is an all inclusive government and the President is determined to ensure that no one is left behind in this attempt to march Nigeria towards progress,” said Idris.

The minister said his meeting with the President was to discuss issues relating to government’s media organisations such as NTA, FRCN, NAN and VON.

“We have discussed all that, we have also arrived at situations that will help their positions as public information platforms of the country.

“They should be in the forefront and we are doing everything possible to make sure that they are being repositioned so that they can serve Nigeria very well,” he said.

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We’ll Deliver Okania-Ogbogoro Road By Dec, Fubara Assures  …Says 90% Drainage Work Ready

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has assured of the timely completion of the 5-kilometer Okania-Ogbogoro Road that will ease movement for both residents and motorists who use that path to avoid the traffic problem caused by the ongoing construction of the Port Harcourt Ring Road in the State.

 

The Okania-Ogbogoro Road is in Akpor area of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the State capital.

 

The Governor also described as fulfilling the expression of joy and excitement by residents of Okania and Ogbogoro communities who are seeing their major access road that was abandoned for about 14 years, being reconstructed with about 90 percent drainage work achieved.

 

Governor Fubara spoke shortly after embarking on a long trek of the 5-kilometer Okania-Ogbogoro road, inspecting culverts, drainages, texture of the surface layers of the road work, and receiving explanations from the Commissioner for Works, Engr Elloka Tasie-Amadi, who accompanied him on the inspection tour on Monday.

 

The Governor said: “You are aware that two months ago, we came here to flag off this project, having considered the importance of this road; knowing fully well what our people are suffering because of the Ring Road we are constructing.

 

“So, we are here this evening to assess the level of work going on here. I think from what we are seeing, it is better than what we met the first time we came here.

 

“The contractor has assured us that they have done 90 percent of the drainage work; and following the raining season, they are expecting to achieve a greater part of the project hopefully within August and September.”

 

Governor Fubara also said: “All things been equal, he has also assured us that by December, if we miss November, we will be coming here to commission this road.

 

“You can see how excited our people are. It is a road that has been abandoned for over 14 years. So, it means this project means a lot to the people living here.

 

“And for us as a government, it also means a lot that we are doing something that is touching the lives of our people,” he added.

 

He urged the people to exercise patience as a good quality road would be delivered for their use very soon, adding that the only thing the government expects from the people is their total support while maintaining peace in their communities.

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