By Chioma Iruke
The rift between the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike and Nigeria’s revenue agency, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) took a new twist on Wednesday, as the government agency insisted that it bestowed with the responsibilityof receiving Valued Added Tax (VAT) from all parts of the country.
Recall that governor Wike had earlier threatened to “take over” all offices of the FIRS in the oil-rich South-South state, if the government agency continues with its “bullying”.
The governor spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting in Port Harcourt, the state capital, while addressing business owners in the state.
The governor told the oil firms, construction companies and other business owners operating in the state to start remitting their VAT to the state government, beginning September.
Speaking at the Stakeholders’ Meeting on Wednesday, Wike lamented about the injustice in the country saying Rivers generated N15bn in June 2021 but got N4.7bn while “Kano produced N2.8bn in June but Kano also got N2.8bn. Sometimes you don’t want to believe these things exist”.
Thus, the governor said he cannot continue to beg the federal government for what belongs to his state.
He warned the FIRS to desist from “bullying” the state with federal might.
“I overhead the FIRS chairman saying that he will show me the powers of the Federal Government that the Federal Government will muzzle the judiciary. It is not my business. The court has decided,” the governor said.
“All these bullying (by) FIRS. They should mind the state they are bullying. FIRS should be very careful. You don’t bully a state like us, I have the political will to do a lot of things. I am not one of those governors that will shy away. If they continue to bully us, all their offices in the state, I will take.
“I will seal off your premises if you continue paying VAT to FIRS,” Wike fired.
The governor also warned the oil companies and business owners not to remit their VAT to FIRS but the Rivers State Government.
On their part, the FIRS insisted that VAT is to be paid into its coffers, as its proceeds are shared between the federal, state and local governments.