Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state has fired back at his critics over their comments in the ongoing face-off with the Federal Inland Revenue Services over collection of Value Added Tax.
Receiving Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the SUN (Newspaper) Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh who led a delegation to present a letter of nomination to him as the SUN Man of the Year 2020 Award at Government House in Port Harcourt, Wike said people who say states should be their brothers' keeper, must first acknowledge that states should be the ones collecting VAT.
He stated that one can't tell others to be their brothers' keeper while doing an illegal thing. Wike said;
“Some people say, be your brother’s keeper; I have no problem in being my brother’s keeper but why not come out and say, let us tell ourselves the simple truth?
“As it is being provided in the law, who is the person responsible to collect the VAT?
“When you agree to that, that it is the state, then we can sit down to look at the different problems of states. And not to say be your brother’s keeper while you’re doing an illegal thing, in disobeying what the law says you should not do.”
On his colleague's threat that the judgement of the court that allowed states to collect VAT within their jurisdiction would not stand, the Governor said Rivers State government should be commended instead for seeking to entrench fiscal federalism and constitutionalism.
Wike also raised an alarm of attempts to frustrate Rivers and other states from actualizing the constitutional provisions that empowered them to harness their resources and revenues, particularly VAT.
He backed this with claim of Federal Government refusing to include Rivers as one of the states that would benefit from projects, for which it was seeking fresh foreign loans to execute.
The Governor said;
“Look at the money that Federal Government has gone to borrow from the World Bank, of all the projects in all the states, the Federal Government did not include Rivers State."
Wike who stressed that his administration is also seeking a law that would provide comfortable accommodation for judicial officers on retirement, said this is to ensure that judicial officers can concentrate on their jobs without cutting corners and avoid corrupt practices.