The Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Femi Adesina, has asserted that President Muhammadu Buhari will abide by whatever the courts decide on the issue of Value Added Tax (VAT) that is currently the subject of litigation between some states and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
He gave this indication during an interview aired on Arise Television.
The presidential spokesman, who expressed the belief that the case may drag up to the Supreme Court, said the president would allow the matter to reach its logical conclusion.
Recall that Rivers State had obtained a judgement stopping the FIRS from collecting VAT in the state with Lagos throwing its weight behind the south-south counterpart.
Giving his personal opinion on the tussle on VAT, he said: “I think the VAT issue is good because there have been talks about restructuring and fiscal federalism in the country. If states eventually get their demands in respect of VAT, there will be something like fulfilling fiscal federalism. But then, fiscal federalism itself must be done within the ambits of the law.
“That is why this issue may, and will likely, end up in the Supreme Court and when the Supreme Court pronounces, that is what the law says. If it’s in favour of the states, fine. If it’s in favour of the federal government, fine. You know that even all these states are not unanimous. You have heard some governors speaking out against the position of certain states who are so militant on this VAT issue.
“So, eventually, we will have a legal pronouncement, which may come from the highest court in the land and whatever that court says, then is the law in the country. Knowing the Buhari administration, it will obey the rule of law.”
Also speaking on the recent declaration of profit by the NNPC Adesina blasted critics who have dismissed it.
He stated: “Well, we have heard stories in this country before; how Presidents will just give notes to NNPC and their wishes got done without records. There was a lot of impunity in this country, but the NNPC GMD is a record, even the Chief Finance Officer, Umar Ajiya, is on record as saying that President Buhari does not interfere in their operations. It used to happen, but under this administration, it has never happened. That was why you had that declared profit.
“But the surprising thing is that it seems some Nigerians are already so used to bad news, that they have got inured to good news. When that good news came, their first instinct was to pick holes in it because all their lives they are used to bad news.
“When that good news came, they couldn’t imagine it, but it happened. I watched your engagement with the Chief Finance Officer of NNPC, how he explained that profit and anybody who is not cynical, will know that there’s a lot of truth in what the CFO said.
“Yes, I watched the encounter with the CFO, as I said, and he emphasised that one of the things they had to do was to cut costs. Cut costs for operations, cut costs of production, running costs, and it all redounded to the profit that was declared.
“It shows that there was a lot of wastage, a lot of extravagances, a lot of lack of accountability in the previous years and the man also said both the President and the Vice President never interfere in the operations.
“As we said in the beginning, we knew and heard and it was indeed true that presidents and those in the corridors of power used to give directives to NNPC to do certain things, which at the end of the day will erode the profitability of the corporation. That doesn’t happen again and that is why that perfect came.”