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• PGF DG says Sanwo-Olu’s alliance with Wike on VAT is highly disturbing
• Warns against break up of APC over power shift, VAT
• FG to begin hearing on new revenue allocation formula today
As all eyes are fixed on the Supreme Court, awaiting its verdict on the Value Added Tax (VAT) dispute between the Federal Government and Rivers State, indications emerged yesterday that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, and the governments of Adamawa, Plateau and Kaduna states will join the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in its appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt that empowered Rivers to collect the tax.
However, dependable sources close to the AGF and governors of the three states, yesterday, confided in The Guardian that they would file a leave of the court to be joined in the suit on Tuesday.
Although the AGF is already a defendant in the appeal, the source hinted that the Federal Ministry of Justice under the AGF has opted to be part of the appellant in the matter so as to enable it to argue effectively in support of FIRS.
“In fact, their motion papers would be ready today (Monday) and will be filed on Tuesday. I can confirm that to you,” the source revealed, adding that more states, particularly Kogi and Zamfara, have expressed their readiness to be joined in the suit to form a coalition with FIRS.
Dr Jibrilla Umar Gwandu, Senior Special Assistant to AGF Malami, could not be reached for comment at the time of filing this report.
YESTERDAY, Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman, faulted the decision of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to align with the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in fighting the APC-led Federal Government over VAT.
Lukman, who declared this in a statement issued in Abuja, titled: ‘APC and Struggle for New Nigeria,’ said Sanwo-Olu should have instead directly engaged the Federal Government on his own.
This was as he alleged that some chieftains of the ruling APC are working in concert with PDP elements to force the ruling party to cede its presidential ticket to the South in the lead up to the 2023 general election.
On VAT, Lukman said it is politically scandalous for an APC state to sue an APC-led FG. He said: “All APC members must strongly appeal to all APC leaders to rebuild confidence and ensure that every issue that should be addressed within the structures of the party are treated so. Perhaps, also in relation to the question of the unity of leaders within the party, all governments produced by the party should be able to strengthen internal relations.
“All party members and leaders should without prejudice to the grievances of Lagos State Government appeal to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to initiate processes of direct engagement with the Federal Government to resolve all issues.”
MEANWHILE, the Federal Government will today begin a public hearing for a new revenue allocation formula as Southwest states converge on Lagos. This is coming amid an ongoing face-off over a collection of revenue, especially VAT and stamp duty. The Federal Government currently takes 52.68 per cent of revenue generated in the country, states get 26.72 per cent, while the 774 Local Governments get 20.60 per cent.
The Southwest public hearing would officially kick off the nationwide consultations expected to lead to a new revenue sharing formula for the country. The states expected to participate are Lagos, Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo and Osun.
The public hearing for the South-South zone is expected to hold in Rivers State from October 7 to October 8 with participants expected from Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta and Edo states.
Under the current sharing arrangement, according to the Commission, the current review will focus only on the vertical allocation, which covers allocation to the Federal, States and Local Governments and does not imply a reduction in the cost of governance.
RMAFC added that the review is in pursuant of the constitutional mandate that empowers it to “review from time to time, the revenue allocation formula and principles in operation to ensure conformity with changing realities.”