VAT Bill will end agitations in Niger Delta if passed -Activist

An activist and chairman of the Board of Trustees, Centre for Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Crusade, Cleric E. Alaowei, has hailed the House Representatives over the ongoing move to back up the state governments collection of VAT with legislations, noting that the VAT Bill, if passed into law, will end agitations in the Niger Delta region.

According to him, the bill, which is seeking to move Item 39 Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution from the exclusive list into the concurrent list, “will, no doubt, stabilise the polity, thereby engendering competitive economy.”

In a signed statement titled, “Reps Bill on State Control of VAT Is The Answer To Resources Control Agitations,” the human rights activist remarked that the bill, sponsored by members of the House of Representatives — Hon. Hassan Usman Sokodabo and Hon. John Dyegh to alter item 39, Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) — was a sure path to fiscal federalism.

He noted that the bill, if passed into law would mean that state governments shall manage their resources, mines and minerals, including oil fields, oil mining, Value Added Tax (VAT), geological surveys as well as natural gas”.

He further explained that going by the bill, if passed, 50% of the total revenue accruable from the minerals would be retained by the state where the minerals are derived, while 30 percent would be credited to the Distributable Pool Account, and the remaining 20 percent, would be credited to the Federation Account.

The statement, copies of which were made available to journalists in Warri on Sunday read in part: ”The Bill in our thinking is retaining the derivation principles provided by the 1960 and 1963 Constitutions respectively. This is the gateway to fiscal restructuring of the Country.

“The nation will in no doubt experience speedy developments of an unimaginable proportion if the said Bill is passed into law.

“We commend the National Assembly for taking this bold step to solve the age-long revenue crisis in the Country.

“The National Assembly should not throw away this very important bill. Of all the ongoing amendments to the 1999 Constitution, this resource control bill is the most important that can sustain the unity of this country till eternity.

“We appeal to the sponsors of the Bill or better still the National Assembly to amend 44(3) of the Principal Act to make it in sync with the items sought to be altered in the Constitution. All Nigerians should queue behind the National Assembly to pass this Bill.”

The legal practitioner stated further, ”The time has come for us to depart from our ethno-religious sentiments in propagating our core values as a nation.

“This Country needs our collective imprimatur to practice true federalism which the House of Representatives have started. For us to survive as a nation in the midst of the daunting challenges, we need to practice true and fiscal federalism.

“We use this medium to appeal to the National Assembly to increase the host communities funds in the Petroleum Industry Act from 3% to 10% in the proposed amendment to the Principal Act.

“The NASS should consider the yearnings of the oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta who bear the environmental degradation”.