The Northern Elders Forum has said that the northern region of Nigeria is rich and can survive on its resources without relying on money generated via VAT in Southern states.
NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known on Tuesday, September 21, during an interview on Arise TV’s show.
He made the statement in reaction to the VAT bill passed by some Southern states – including Lagos and Rivers state – insisting that tax generated in the state be paid to the state and not to the Federal Government.
The Court of Appeal in a ruling on September 10 stopped the collection of VAT by Lagos and Rivers State pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Weighing in on the VAT conversation, Baba-Ahmed said: “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
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“If we don’t do that now, then we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the north, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate.
“The thing about is: the north wants restructuring; the north wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”