Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has ordered construction firms, manufacturers and business owners as well as other firms in the oil-rich state to begin the remittance of their VAT to the state from this month.
The governor, who said the state was generating an average of N15bn VAT to the FIRS monthly, lamented that the Federal Government was only giving the state a paltry 25 per cent of the revenue.
Wike said he did not care if the heavens would fall and insisted that Rivers money was not meant for “Abuja people,” but for the development of the state, adding that the legal system had empowered the state to begin the collection of VAT.
He also said the amount being generated into the FIRS purse was too much and, therefore, slashed the amount payable as VAT by business owners. The governor, however, did not specify the percentage to be paid.
Wike unveiled the Rivers State VAT Law, 2021 and vowed to sanction any firm that failed to comply with the remittance of VAT to the state revenue board.
Speaking at the stakeholders’ meeting yesterday, Wike lamented the injustice in the country, saying Rivers State generated N15bn VAT revenue in June this year, but got N4.7bn in return, while Kano generated N2.8bn in the same month and got the same N2.8bn back, adding, “Sometimes, you don’t want to believe these things exist.
“Rivers State is challenging the FIRS from collecting VAT in Rivers State. I am not challenging the FIRS from collecting VAT in Abuja. Let it be understood. The law says Rivers must collect VAT in the state.
“The Federal Government surreptitiously lobbied to amend the constitution to place VAT collection in the exclusive legislative list.
“We have challenged it and we have no apologies to anybody. I don’t want to be in the good books of anybody, but in the good books of God.
“You don’t bully a state like us. The FIRS should be very careful. I have the political will to do a lot of things. If they continue to bully us, I will take (over) all their offices in the state.”
The governor warned oil companies and business owners not to henceforth remit their VAT to the FIRS, but to the Rivers State Government.
He stated, “I don’t want you to fall prey to the people, who think they can use force to take our money.
“If you want to take advantage and say you don’t know who to pay to, it is a lie, you know.
“From this September, we must collect all our VAT.
“All the banks playing pranks by saying they have not heard from their head offices, I will seal off your branches. If I say I will, know that I will.
“We will not look back but seal off the premises of such companies.”
Wike added that Rivers did not need the Nigeria Police Force to enforce the collection of VAT, but would use the state-created security outfit that was backed by law.
He stated, “I will be happy at my time that heaven came down, because I will create a record that it was my time that heaven came down.
“We don’t have to use the police; we have our security (outfit) as allowed by law and we will use it.
“Please tell your authorities to pay our VAT to our revenue board, which of course you have been told how to do it.
“Until there is a (court) order stopping us, we won’t stop the collection. If an appeal (court) revokes it, no problem, but the position of the law today is that VAT is for Rivers State.
“We are even going back to collect the one they took before. All the ones they have taken before, we are compiling it; they have to pay back to us.
“All those states that are loyal (to the Federal Government) should wait, but the Rivers State Government will collect all that is due to us within the confinement of the law; we will not go outside the law.
“I have looked at the total VAT every month, I have even reduced it; I don’t want this; it is too much; I have even reduced it to what I will collect and I have projects to do with it every month.
“The FIRS cannot threaten you. We are the landlords here, I hope you know that. We have enormous powers to use by law.”