By ABUBAKAR YUSUF
The Value Added Tax crises between the state governments and Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS is a straight jacket fight between the law and politics, orchestrated by the States under the guise of fiscal federalism.
But,this developement became simpler on the part of FIRS,as the law of the land still gave the service the right of collection of VAT in the 36 states of the federation.
On the part of the States,having started the struggle on a good note,by seeking legal redress,intepretaton and adjudication,have also deflected to playing politics with the whole laudable moves.
But,alas it is not unthinkable,that the whole thing may desire political solution,but what the FIRS is protecting is precedence and the position of the law.
Therefore,it is more saner and saver to be on the part of the law,by both the FIRS and the States,not only to protect the immediate political interest of the current players now or in the nearest future,but to institutionalise the activities of government departments and agencies towards achieving a common goal.
The unambiguous ruling of the Appeal court legitimising the continuous collection of VAT by the Revenue House/ FIRS and the pronouncement of statusquo ante, was enough to standout arguements and agitations from the States pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The threat of brickstone, fire and any other approach by some state governments and particularly the decision of the South -South governors will amount to illegality,inimical that will threaten the root of our democratic practice thriving in the last two decades.
The quest by States for a backyard judgement by rushing to the Apex court for interpretation of the ruling of the Appeal court,may not stand the taste of time,as even with the judgement,the bulk of collectible VAT still belong to the States.
The States need to imbibe caution and leadership wizard in the pursuant of their legitimate struggles,not on the long run,illegitimise their efforts that will threaten the peaceful and united coexistence of the federating states.
In other climes,it is on record that sub nationals are not legally binded to collection of VAT, therefore Nigeria will not be an exception in the comity of Nations.
But,in the event of any contrary opinion of the law of the land,it will be a major legal pronouncement and position for both parties to do the needful,but going by the decision of the Appeal court,any action from the States will be null and void.
The current VAT struggle should not be construed under the tutelage of ambitious politicians and desperate political class,who want to use the delicate issue as an inroad to political victory in the 2023 general elections.
There is every need to divorce the current issue of VAT far away from individuals inordinate ambition,even though ,we cannot distance politics from state matters,but this is a clear cut national issue that goes beyond politics.
There is no gainsaying from states an it’s insistence on going ahead to collect VAT,as it against the law of land and a negation of the temple of justice.
Nigeria is in a full fledged democratic practice,the use of force, pressure, coercion against the position of the law is dangerous,as it is a total sacrelige, desecration of the rule of law.
All hands must be on deck to remain on the same page,and act within the ambition of the law,as politics of lawlessness is an averse to good governance in Nigeria.
The undiluted position of the FIRS is to strive to ensure government at all levels attend to it’s obligations both now and in the nearest future, therefore taxation is the bane of stability of any nation,as Nigeria cannot afford to be an exception.