Opinion | VAT judgment: Yet another bold move by Wike towards restructuring Nigeria

By Dornubari Kiinee
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.

A fortnight ago, Nigerians were inundated with the news of the landmark judgement delivered by a federal high court, following a suit instituted by Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration, which stated that it is the Rivers State Government that is entitled to collect value-added tax (VAT) in the state, and not Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS.

It is also no longer news that the Wike-led administration consequently enacted a law promptly in that regard, pursuant to the timely interpretation of the constitution by the court of competent jurisdiction.

If Nigeria is a federal republic, then she ought to be operated as such. There should be strict adherence to the rule of law; the constitution and nothing else should guide actions of the government at all levels. These are what statesmen like Governor Nyesom Wike stand for.

It is the notion above that warranted the lawsuit which gave birth to the landmark judgment that is on the lips of millions of Nigerians today, and if maintained at the final point of litigation, it will significantly extricate the federating units from the current skewed feeding-bottle federal system that is a shackle on the ankles of the progress of this country.

This is not the first time Governor Wike is correcting the federal government through the courts and other relevant institutions, in the face of flagrant violation of the constitution and brazen disregard of rule of law as it concerns states. He has always exhibited excellent leadership when it is needed in the country despite being only a provincial head.

Recall that in May 2020, Rivers State Government dragged the Federal Government to court over illegal deductions of states’ monthly allocations unilaterally to fund the police that is on the exclusive list. Whilst other state governors were grumbling in their closets, it was only the governor of Rivers State who was bold enough to challenge the illegality that would have set a bad precedent.

When the former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, attempted to give himself powers he lacks, by illegally setting up panel of enquiry over what happened in a state, something only governors are allowed by the constitution to do. It was Governor Nyesom Wike who also secured a court judgement to emend the anomaly.

Without sounding political, if each of the six geopolitical zones has at least one governor who is bold, courageous, smart and informed like Governor Nyesom Wike, the hands of the federal government would be forced to give Nigerians the country they desire and truly deserve.

Dornubari Kiinee is a political commentator and analyst.