PGF DG, Salihu Mohammed Lukman. Credit: Medium.com.
The Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, a platform for elected Governors of the All Progressive Congress APC, Salihu Mohammed Lukman, has faulted the partnership formed by Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwoolu, with Rivers state Governor, Nyesome Wike, challenging the federal government over the collection of Value Added Tax, VAT. It will be recalled that few days ago, a divisional court of Appeal in Abuja, granted the request of the Lagos State government to join Rivers state as co-defendant in a suit filed by the Federal Inland Revenue service, FIRS, challenging the power of state governments to collect VAT.
Nyesome Wike. Credit: Thisday.
In his reaction to the latest development according to the Vanguard, the PGF DG described the alignment of the two Governors as disturbing. He said it is politically scandalous for an APC Governor to sue an APC-led federal government. He advised the Lagos state Governor to initiate direct engagement with the federal government to resolve the VAT collection issue instead of aligning with a Governor from the opposition to challenge the federal government.
However, in my opinion, there two reasons why I think the PGF DG is wrong to fault Lagos State government's alignment with his Rivers state counterpart, even though they don’t belong to the same political party.
Babajide Sanwoolu. Credit: Vanguard.
First, the VAT collection debate is an economic issue as it concerns each state and not a political issue.
One of the primary responsibilities of a Governor to the people of his state, is the economic well being of his state. If Governor Sanwoolu feels there will be more improvement in the governance of Lagos through the collection of 100% VAT generated in the state, then his partnership with Rivers State government need not be faulted by Mr Salihu Lukman because it’s strictly an economic issue that concerns each of these states.
Secondly, party loyalty should not be placed above the loyalty to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.
Every elected government officials be it the President or Governors, before assuming office took an oath to always uphold the constitution. If the Lagos state government feels the interpretation of the law as it regards VAT collection is being misrepresented, then they should be given the right to seek redress at the law court even if it means being joined in a suit filed by a state under the control of the opposition.
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