Nigeria is generally a country without value-added, as it produces nothing most people outside the country want to buy. Are you surprised that only about four states and FCT generate 85% of all the realisable Value Added tax in the country, and the rest- 32 states, generate 15%? The country thrives underneath the par of developing countries. It is a corrupt dungeon being suffocated by an anti-development, virus-infected, decree 24 document, called 1999 constitution.
Justice Stephen Dalop Pam may have started a restructuring revolution in Nigeria, just as Tunisian graduate Tarek el-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor who set himself on fire in Ben Arous, started the Tunisian revolution and the wider Arab Spring in 2010. While Tarek’s initiation of the Tunisian revolution involved some dint of violence or self-immolation, the Nigerian revolution has commenced via a subtle but sharp-edged Court declaration. Whichever way the revolutions started; the outcomes justify the acts.
Justice Pam’s ruling is a watershed that has outlawed collection of VAT, Withholding and Education taxes and Technology levy by federal government’s weaponised FIRS. The declaration gently advises the regime to concentrate on collecting Capital gains tax and taxes on profits as ascribed under the exclusive list of the Nigeria constitution.
According to Daily Trust Newspaper, “many states may not be able to meet their financial commitments if Pam’s ruling stands”, and Gombe governor was quoted as begging, “states should be their brother’s keeper. This is the greatest exposure of hypocrisy and an attempt to deceive the rest of the country. Must some states meet their financial commitments by continuing to rob other states? Does the governor of Gombe state believe in restructuring or is he one of northern elements who fake ignorance of the true meaning of restructuring?
FIRS’s race to the appeal court in Abuja with the aim of frustrating Pam’s declaration is thoughtless and retrogressive. It is an attempt to reverse progress and keep the redundant status quo, ongoing, and continue to keep some states in desperate almajiri conditions. Moreover, FIRS’s nocturnal race to the national assembly to attempt to sneak VAT into the exclusive list is criminal. FIRS is now the greatest enemy of the redundant and superfluous states which it claims to protect.
Those northerners feigning ignorance of the meaning of restructuring should wait no longer. Here it is. They should read Justice Pam’s declaration. It is called fiscal restructuring. It is also the first restructuring missile fired in anger, and full resource control would follow. The anti-development virus called the 1999 constitution has been punctured by a pro-development virus cleansing declaration. The ruling has freed laisse affaire and healthy competition among states.
Justice Pam’s declaratory judgement has exposed the fact that state creation by the country’s corrupt and unhinged ex-military juntas, was dishonest. They created unviable, parasitic states that build nothing, innovate nothing, produce nothing, earn nothing; but exploit everything. The declaration is a wake-up call for docile ethnolinguistic governors and their cabinets, whose only reason for becoming governors is because they speak a particular language and belong to a certain religious sect or tribe.
Federal collection and arbitrary distribution of VAT since 1993 is a function of impunity that has bedevilled the country, and FIRS’s nugatory speech following the Pam ruling is regrettable.
The current unjust regime can ignore freedom fighters and throw the 2014 confab report to the dust, as much as it wants; but one thing is certain, the country must be restructured or dismembered one way or the other. Pam’s declaration reminds everyone that the impending dismemberment may emanate from very unconventional source/s. UK BREXIT happened because the EU pussyfooted on giving minor concessions to the imperial island, which led to the vote of Yes to exit the amorphous union in 2016. The Tunisian and Arab spring sprung up via a frustrated graduate street hawker, who self-immolated himself on a street in Tunis in December 2010. #Endsars sprung up with the spontaneity of impulsivity and nearly rescued the country from the cabal before the civilian junta struck at Lekki toll gate. A little-known Kuru born Federal High Court Judge, Justice Pam, has triggered the restructuring revolution. Restructuring and/or outright dissolution of Nigeria is neither negotiable nor avoidable. The earlier these facts stick onto the ageing brains of those delaying the processes, the better.
Justice Simon Haruna’s ruling last Friday, may have sent Justice Pam’s declaration to legal purgatory (depending on your interpretation of his ruling), but be assured, this revolution is not going away, because governor Wike has inaugurated a four-man tax appeal commission charged with the responsibility of ensuring mass compliance with the state’s brand-new VAT law. Governor Sanwo Olu has also signed the Lagos State Vat law and gone further to request to be joined as a respondent in the ongoing FIRS appeal case in Abuja. His motion for joinder will be heard before Justice Haruna on 16 September. So, the battle is just starting.
While the lawless regime, hopes, that Rivers and Lagos states would obey Justice Haruna’s order not to proceed with collecting VAT, until the substantive suit is resolved, the #unjust regime needs to be reminded that it has NOT obeyed any single court order made against it for the past 6 years, courtesy of the instrumentality and rascality of its badly trained childlike Gestapo organisation, known as DSS. Though two wrongs do not make a right, the popular opinion is that Governors Wike and Sanwo Olu should please, bell the cat.
By Austin Aneke