The Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, has dissociated himself from the resolutions of the Southern Governors Forum that states should be collecting Value Added Tax instead of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
Umahi made his position known Friday on Channels Television Sunrise Daily programme monitored by our reporter.
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He categorically stated that his state won’t pursue VAT collection as agreed by his colleagues from the South West at Thursday’s meeting in Enugu. The governor was represented by his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, at the meeting.
Umahi said, “When they (southern governors) say that this VAT collection is part of true restructuring, I said I never believe in total restructuring; I believe in administrative restructuring.”
“In any gathering, the minority will have their say and the majority will have their way. For example, there was an issue that came up, I am not sure it’s clear to some of our colleagues on the issue of VAT but it is very clear to me.
“We (Ebonyi) took a stand as a state with our leaders on the issue of the VAT war and so my deputy carried it on to say that this is what my governor is saying and this is what the state is saying and he went ahead to explain with some other deputies that represented their governors.
“But, together, they were in the minority and it didn’t stop the majority from coming up with their communiqué. When it comes to implementation and voicing out, I will continue to say this is where I stand. If it is a choice, I will choose what would benefit my state,” he added.
According to him, many states in the country wouldn’t make it if the states take over the VAT collection from the federal government, whilst appealing to southern governors to be their ‘brother’s keeper’.
He said, “Eat and have so much surplus and then some other states don’t have much to eat. We have to be our brothers’ keepers; we have to see how we can grow the economies of the weakest states.
“There is no way in a relationship that you will get 100 per cent of what you put in; it doesn’t work that way. I have said that my state would not be viable and I will continue to say that more than 30 other states would not be viable; we should not break the states.
“Whatever thing we are doing, we have to think about the nation first. Let’s tarry a while and see how we can pass this river and then we can come to the fact of who is right and who is wrong.
“True federalism is not done in a day. If we want to do a restructuring, we have to have a gradual process to do that,” he added.