The presidency on Sunday disclosed that the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government will abide by whatever final decision the courts take on the current tussle involving the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) in Nigeria.
Speaking on Sunday, the special adviser to the President on media and publicity, Femi Adesina said the Buhari government is law-abiding and will await the final court pronouncement on the matter.
He however observed that the matter may go as far as the Supreme Court.
The presidential media aide during the interview, also described Rivers and Lagos states as ‘militant’ for going all out on the VAT issue, noting that whatever must be done, should be within the provisions of the law.
Naija News reports that the Rivers State and the Lagos State Governments this past week made a daring push to ensure their respective states control the collection and utilization of VAT revenue generated within their space.
Though the Court of Appeal had asked parties involved to maintain the status quo until the matter is determined, that did not stop the Lagos state government from signing the VAT Bill into law or Wike from establishing a VAT collection commission.
During the interview on Sunday with Arise TV, however, Adesina said that President Buhari will not interfere or impose anything on the courts as he believes in the independence of the judiciary as well as other arms of government and will wait for the final pronouncement.
He said it could be a move that will actualize the demands for fiscal federalism or not, depending on the final position adopted by the judiciary.
Adesina noted that the court pronouncement could either favour the state governments or the federal government but his principal will obey the final court order regardless of the party it favours.
“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,” he said.