The Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Salihu Moh Lukman, has condemned the Rivers state governor Nyesom Wike, for “shamelessly talk about Value Added Tax (VAT) which President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration responsible for its increasing collection.
The APC chieftain reminded governor Wike that the current increased record of VAT collection in the country is made possible only because his party, the PDP is no longer in power.
In a statement released to newsmen Friday in Abuja, Lukman said If PDP were to be in power the fact of inefficiency and corruption in the process of collection and management of VAT would have continued and the amount collected would have remained relatively low.
According to Lukman that Nigerians are debating whether it is states or federal government that should collect VAT signify some progress, which has to do with the fact that there is an increase in what is being generated from VAT.
“For instance, in 2015, the total amount collected was N759.43 billion. Between 2016 to 2020, there was consistently increase in the amount collected respectively to N777.51 billion, N972.35 billion, N1.11 trillion, N1.17 trillion and N1.531 trillion. Everything considered, under the APC led federal government of President Muhammadu Buhari, VAT collection increased from N759.43 billion in 2015 to N1.531 trillion in 2020, an increase of more than hundred percent.
“Nigerians can conveniently dismiss the role of APC led federal government in making it possible for the remarkable improvement in VAT collection in the country such that today, it has become an attractive variable in the struggle for resource control by state governments. The reality however is that credit must go to the APC led federal government of President Buhari.
“Whether it would have been possible if PDP is still in control of the federal government can only be wishful thoughts. If that were to be the case, why wasn’t it the case at any point between 1999 and 2015? No matter what anyone want to say, the reality is that the significant increase in VAT in the country between 2015 and 2020 confirmed improved efficiency and reduced corruption in the process of collection and management of Nigeria’s public finances.
Interestingly, in terms of the politics of the debate, improved efficiency and management of Nigeria’s public finances are not the focus of the debate. In some ways, even those who are supposed to recognise this fact and promote the achievements of the APC and its federal government, instead have become so defensive, may be because the public noise in the country is all about demonstrating how the APC led federal government of President Buhari is the driver of inequality, injustice and unfair practices against state governments.
“Governor Wike can audaciously and shamelessly talk about VAT today because, its value has significantly increased which made it attractive for a rich state like Rivers to be interested in controlling it. If Governor Wike has any morality, he should look back and acknowledge how small Rivers must have received as its VAT share before 2015.
“Being a leading member of PDP, what was responsible for the low VAT records in the country between 1999 and 2015? And since, according to him and almost every leader of PDP, Nigerians are looking up to the PDP to rescue the nation from ‘bad governance’ in the hands of APC, does PDP’s brand of good governance come with low capacity to manage the nation’s public finances?”
Lukman said it is not by accident that VAT collection in the country significantly increased under APC led federal government.
“This is because one of the specific commitment of APC since 2015 as outlined in the section of the party’s manifesto Funding a New Nigeria was that ‘APC government will set about the urgent task of getting Nigeria’s public finances in order, by tackling the massive waste, duplication and corruption in the system, diversifying the economy and expanding our tax base to increase non-oil revenues, and reprioritising public spending away from bureaucracy towards investment in infrastructure and improved frontline services.’
“Both in terms of ‘getting Nigeria’s public finances in order’ and ‘investment in infrastructure’, APC led Federal Government is implementing provisions of the APC manifesto to the letter. Nigerian’s especially PDP leaders can conveniently dismiss all the work being done to develop Nigeria’s dilapidated and abandoned infrastructure, but the question of ‘expanding our tax base to increase non-oil revenue’ cannot be disputed.
“One strong evidence of that is the debate about states collecting VAT. It is very easy to play very cheap politics with these issues, partially because also, as a party, APC is not taking ownership of its achievements. Instead, its achievements are now being interpreted to justify some rebellious politics against the APC led federal government.”
The PGF boss called on the party leaders to take advantage of the current VAT debate to take ownership of its achievements, which the fact of improved VAT collections in the country represent.
“In doing, APC leaders must go beyond the narrow debate about access to what is currently available. If at all APC leaders and members are to make any claim to progressive political credentials, generating large scale financial resources at both federal and state levels, which should be deployed to expand the productive base of the nation’s economy, should be the aspiration.
“There is no reason why any state in the country, including Zamfara, Yobe, Osun, Ekiti, Abia, Ebonye, should not aspire to generate at least N10 – 15 billion monthly as Internally Generated Revenue. To be caught in the backward debate about whether they should have the little they currently receive from the federation account is retrogressive. As a nation, our politics and democracy must be refocused towards nurturing the productive potentials of every state.”