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Rivers Not Fighting FG Over Tax Collection, Wike Clarifies …Introduce Wealth Tax To Check Poverty, Raji Tells Govt

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has said that the state was not fighting the Federal Government or any of its agencies over collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) as being insinuated in some quarters.
This is as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ahmed Raji, called on the Federal Government to immediately introduce Wealth Tax Policy that would make super-rich Nigerians pay deserved tax that would be used to cater for the down-trodden citizens in the country.
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja at a public lecture entitled: “Taxing Powers in a Federal System” to mark the 60th birthday of Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), Wike said that the state was only trying to pursue what was right and legitimate within the ambits of the Constitution.
The governor, who represented by the Attorney-General of the state, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor (SAN), maintained that both Rivers State and the federal governments were co-equal because they both derived their life from the Constitution.
“I have heard a lot of comments being made that we are fighting the Federal Government, there is no desire or any intention of the Rivers State Government to fight the Federal Government.
“The principle of co-equality is fundamental to a federal arrangement, that principle leads to the principle of autonomy; autonomy leads to fiscal autonomy; and fiscal autonomy leads to fiscal federalism; and when you put all the principles together, what it means is that each level of government, whether federal or state is co-equal because none derives its life from the other.
“They both derive their life from the Constitution because they have co-equality.
“That is the fundamental aspect of fiscal federalism, and until we get it, we will continue this journey of talking without result but I think that the court has a role to play, the court can lay this crises and controversy to rest when it makes a pronouncement”, Wike said.
Also speaking at the event, Prof. Abiola Sani appealed to the Judiciary to make definite and definitive pronouncement on the impasse surrounding tax collection in Nigeria’s federal system.
Sani, a professor of commercial law, who was the guest lecturer at the occasion, called on the National Assembly to use the on-going Constitution amendment to bring out clear taxing powers among the three tiers of government.
In his remarks on the excruciating poverty in the country, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Ahmed Raji called on the Federal Government to immediately introduce Wealth Tax Policy to make super-rich Nigerians pay the deserved tax that would be used to cater for the down-trodden citizens in the country.
The Abuja-based senior lawyer said that the suggested tax policy, if introduced and implemented, would make the super-rich Nigerians to contribute meaningfully to government’s purse to bridge the gap between the affluent and super poor in the nation.
Raji, who spoke at a public lecture entitled, “Taxing Powers in a Federal System” in Abuja to mark his 60th birthday, remarked that time has come for government to do real balancing between the rich and the poor in Nigeria.
He argued that in the face of harsh economic situation starring poor Nigerians in the face, the poor need to be subsidised and not to be taxed under any guise so as to balance their anger against the rich.
Raji noted that evidence were sufficient that some super-rich class own personal jets worth $50million each at a time when some families could not afford to eat twice a day, adding that the country cannot witness genuine peace under such situation.
“It is a fact that the downturn in Nigeria’s economy is having harsh and devastating effects on the poor majority Nigerians. The wide disparity between the rich and the poor should be of grave concern to patriotic Nigerians and the way out must be found.
“The gap between the rich and the poor is so much and so offensive that it can lead to break down of law and order at any moment.
“It is in the interest of justice that the super-rich should shed part of their stupendous wealth to cater for the down-trodden masses before it is too late.
“Majority of Nigerians are in absolute poverty. Over 90 percentage of the Nigerian population is in abject poverty and time has come for us, including myself to address the ugly situation.
“Any attempt to pretend that all is well may spell doom for the nation. We will be sitting on a keg of powder if we refuse to address the challenges of the poor masses now”, he warned.
He appealed to the government that the instrumentality of Wealth Tax must be adopted and used to develop the Nigerian nation as done in the United States of America, United Kingdom and France.
The senior lawyer said he opted to use the public lecture to mark his birthday so as to use it to draw attention to some burning issues and challenges that deserve public attention rather than mere merry making.

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Fubara Hinges RSG’s Success On God’s Grace

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has explained that his administration is still standing strong, delivering dividends of democracy to the people and solving critical problems of governance despite the sudden political crisis that erupted and persisted in the State because of God’s grace.
The Governor said that the successes recorded so far were possible because God has been graciously upholding the government, offering it the right direction and giving him the strength to carry on.
Governor Fubara spoke at the State Banquet to celebrate his first one year in office and 57th Anniversary of the creation of Rivers State at Government House in Port Harcourt on Monday night.
The State Chief Executive Officer said that while others were celebrating one full year of service to the people, he has only actually been in control of real governance characterised by prudence, purposefulness and protection of the interest of the State in the last four months.
He said that under his watch, Rivers State Government has provided “Governance that has the interest of our people at heart. Governance that is prudent. Governance that has respect for you: all of you.
”We decided to have this banquet today to say: thank you, thank you and thank you to everyone of you. You have supported us.
”The last time I had this opportunity to dine with you was on 1st of January, 2024, and you know, the mood was not like this. We never knew we could even stand up till today.”
Governor Fubara further said: “You see the reason why we need to give God all the glory. It is very simple: one thing is very important and unique; we are succeeding because we are on the side of God.
”It is not just standing on the side of God; because every body professes to be standing on the side of God, even the native doctor would call on God.
“But what is important is God being in your business. God is in our business. And because He is in our business, we will continue to survive, no matter where they are coming from,” he said.
Governor Fubara insisted that his purpose in government is to deliver the dividends of democracy to Rivers people, which will not be compromised.
”It takes somebody who loves this State genuinely to embark on a project like the Trans-Kalabari Road. I am not from that axis of the riverine, where somebody would say I’m doing it because I’m from there. No. That project alone will cost this government over N225billion.
”But so far, to show our commitment that we are not just saying that we want to do it, we have started it, and we believe in delivering it.
”We believe that when this project is completely delivered, security issues will be reduced, development will come to our people in far remote areas that you could hitherto only traverse through the sea, issues of water piracy will be gone, including issues of boat mishaps that we keep recording,” he added.
Governor Fubara urged the people to see this project as an effort towards the expansion of the State and ensuring that development extends to other parts of the State away from the centre of Port Harcourt City.
He added, “I don’t want to talk about the Port Harcourt Ring Road. That already you know is ongoing. It is already on a familiar ground.
”Are we talking about the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road? Those are things we are doing to tell our people that we are interested in the development of the State,” the Governor clarified.
Governor Fubara pointed out: “We all know the situation of our healthcare services in this State. It is not pretending! What you call the BMHS – the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) – might be functioning but what about the zonal hospitals? What about the general hospitals?”
Emphasising his administration’s commitment to turning around the fortunes of healthcare sector in the State, Governor Fubara assured of making sure that all zonal hospitals come on stream in the next six months.
He said, “Are we even talking about the health sector? We have given ourselves a task that in the next six months, all our zonal hospitals, including the general hospitals in strategic LGAs must function.
“If you have the money to afford healthcare services at affordable rate, you don’t have a problem. You don’t need to go to private hospitals when the government hospitals are functioning.
“Are we talking about our schools? Our focus is to take Rivers State from where we have met it to another level. A level where we know that everybody can afford to send their children to school. It is not everyone who can send their children to those expensive private schools out there!
”So, we want to provide the basics. It is only when we have those basics that issues of crime would be reduced. It is only when we have those basics that criminality, including kidnapping, cultism, will also reduce,” he explained.
“You have schools that you can send your children, and they can learn and compete favourably with those in private schools, what else?”
Governor Fubara restated the concern of his administration, which is to improve the livelihood and well-being of the people.
He solicited more support from leaders of the State, and more especially, the other arms of government – the Legislature and Judiciary – to enable the government serve the people better.
According to him, “We mean well for this State. We will respect you and provide enabling environment for you to succeed. We also believe that you will respect and partner with us while we work for the wellbeing of our State.
”For our royal fathers: we want to thank you for your support. You have a lot to do. You are the closest to our people. You are the leaders of the communities.
”Everybody who lives in every community, you know them. In fact, you know the good, the bad and the ugly! Please, ensure that you take control of all your domains.
”Be very useful to the security agencies. Anything you know that you know you can do to help us to maintain peace, do not hesitate to do that for us.
”We know they might be planning for some things, but I don’t bother about that. Why I do not bother is: I believe that we have too much trouble to worry about. So, each day, as it comes, God will give us the strength to handle it better and overcome.”
Governor Fubara expressed gratitude to the former Governor of the State, Dr Peter Odili, and an elder statesman, Senator John Azuta Mbata, among others who have continued to stand with his administration.
”Let me specially thank our leader, Sir Dr Prter Odili. Let me specially thank Senator John Mbata. I have a reason to say this, and everyone of you know it.
”But I need to call out these two: they are a strong symbol causing problem in the camp of the opposition. Each time they stand with us, they’re one million in one man, and it is troubling them.
”And this evening, with the calibre of people sitting on this table, there will be confusion somewhere. So you can see the handiwork of God! It is not me. It is when God is in control, He makes everything perfect in His way and in His time,” he said.
Governor Fubara also thanked the security agencies for their various levels of support that had ensured that peace prevailed in the State, and urged them to continue to sustain the tempo.
He said, “We know that a lot of people are planning one thing or the other, but because you’re gentlemen and women of honour, you have never accepted to join in destroying what we have as a State. So, I want to thank you, on behalf of the government.”
He specifically called out the heads of security agencies, military and paramilitary services in the State, and thanked them profusely for the immeasurable support and cooperation they have given to his administration, which had facilitated the successes recorded thus far.
In his speech, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr Tammy Danagogo, said as the State marks the 57th Anniversary of its creation and first one year in office of Governor Fubara, a book on the Old Rivers State is also being unveiled, written by a cross section of elites, intellectuals and leaders from Rivers and Bayelsa states.
He said: “You will agree with me that in the past one year, His Excellency has proven his mettle by maintaining peace and security all across the State, completing most of the ongoing projects we met on assumption of office, and initiating several crucial new projects all across the State.
The SSG said, “I am sure you all know, projects like the Unity Road (the Ogoni-Andoni-Opobo Road) which was started by our father, Dr Peter Odili and successive governments took it up to Opobo, and Ikuru Town axis, he has within one year taken it up to Ngo Town, the headquarters of Andoni Local Government Area.
“I am sure you also know that the Port Harcourt Ring Road was on the drawing board for more than 20 years, and within one year, he has awarded the contract. I am sure you also see it on the road that Julius Berger is at jet-speed to achieve it within record time.”
Dr Danagogo also talked about the original route of the Trans-Kalabari Road project, which he said was initially awarded by Dr Peter Odili, and eventually abandoned by the contractors; an indigenous son.
Since then, Dr Danagogo said, no government could dare re-award it, but Governor Fubara had broken the jinx and got the project started.
“Or is it the main Trans-Kalabari Road? It can only take a man with a lion’s heart to dare to embark on the construction of that road. Many successive governments had avoided awarding the contract because it is a very huge endeavour.
“But Governor Fubara has taken up the challenge, and awarded the contract. Today, work has commenced on the project that promises to open up that axis of the riverine to inclusive development”.
He said: “The same thing has happened with the new dualization of the Elele-Egbeda-Omoku Road, which His Excellency had also graciously awarded.
“These are very massive and gigantic projects that only a Governor with a lion’s heart can dare to award. And these and many more projects that we have initiated would be outlined in a Scorecard that would be presented at an account of Stewardship Forum which would hold on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, at the Obi Wali International Conference Centre, Port Harcourt at 10am,” he added.
In his remarks on the book on Old Rivers State, Mr Biobele Da-Wariboko, said that the team of 97 authors and contributors from both Rivers and Bayelsa States began the process of writing the book titled: ‘Rivers Golden Expedition, Trials And Triumphs’ in 2016.
He noted that so many factors prevented the completion and launch of the book in 2017, and attributed the launch on May 27, 2024, to providence and the grace of God.
He noted the eminent Rivers and Bayelsa indigenes who contributed to the success of the book, and described the compendium as a ‘collector’s treasure’, which every Rivers son and daughter must read to keep abreast of the history, endowments and potentials of the State.
Highlights of the State Banquet were the cutting of the 57th Rivers Creation Anniversary Cake and official launch of the ‘Rivers Golden Expedition, Trials And Triumphs’ by the Governor Fubara, who was accompanied by former governors, deputy governors, senators, traditional rulers, and other leaders across the Isles.
There were also toasts for the peace, progress and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Rivers State as well as their respective leaders, in an evening of good music, comedy, dance, food and fun.

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Labour Rejects FG’s Fresh N60,000 Minimum Wage Offer, Insists On N494,000

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The organised labour has rejected the Federal Government’s fresh offer of N60,00 as minimum wage.
The Tide reliably learnt yesterday that the Federal Government has added a sum of N3,000 to its initially proposed N57,000 minimum wage, making it the sum of N60,000 proposed during a meeting of the tripartite committee on minimum wage in Abuja, yesterday.
Organised labour, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) also went down by N3,000 from its last proposal of N497,000 during the last minimum wage meeting.
According to a source who gave the breakdown at yesterday’s meeting, the amount proposed by the government did not go down well with labour leaders.
The source who is a labour union leader said that the organised labour would only go lower if the government went higher on its demands.
“This is simply a case of if they go higher, we will go lower. They need to propose something reasonable for us to propose something lower too. There is no two-way about it.
“Also, we have a way of meeting as members of the Labour before each committee meeting. This will help us to take a uniform stand by the time we get to the meeting front.
“So as long as the government is ready to present something reasonable, we will meet them in the middle,” the source said.

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Nigeria Now Pays Debt Without Borrowing From Central Bank – Finance Minister

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Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, said Nigeria is now buoyant enough to pay its debt without resorting to the Central Bank’s ways and means.
Edun disclosed this yesterday during the presentation of his ministry’s performance one year into President Bola Tinubu’s administration in Abuja.
Edun noted that Nigeria’s economy is on a growth trajectory, stating that the country’s gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2024 grew to 2.99 per cent growth in real terms, surpassing the 2.31 per cent growth seen in Q1 2023.
He stressed that Nigeria’s economy has rejuvenated under Tinubu.
“What that means is that the government can now pay its way. The government is paying its debt service without resulting in ways and means, particularly international debt service,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s headline and food inflation increased to 33.69 per cent and 40.53 per cent in April. The development has increased the economic woes in Nigeria.
In March, the Debt Management Office said Nigeria’s foreign and domestic debt increased to N97.341 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2023.

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