Asaba – Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has called on the international community to partner the Federal Government to enthrone credibility and integrity in its electoral process, saying Nigeria is too strategic for its challenges to be ignored.
Okowa who made the call on Tuesday when he received the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, at Government House, Asaba, said Nigerians were desirous for free and credible elections in 2023 and beyond, and urged the global community to lend its support as the country was important enough not to be allowed to be in crisis.
He said the international community has a lot of role to play indirectly in the electioneering process, to have strong voice towards ensuring a credible process in the electioneering that will take place in 2023.
“Nigeria is too important a nation to go into crisis and we know that any crisis in Nigeria will impact very negatively in our world today.
“To that extent, I believe that the global community has to have their eyes on Nigeria. Wherever they need to offer support to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), they should not hesitate to do so.
“Whatever they have to do through diplomacy also to truly help in partnership with the Federal Government to drive credible elections in 2023, we will appreciate it because a credible election in 2023 will obviously strengthen us as a people and as a nation.
“It will help to give greater hope to our youths who are looking out to the Nigeria of tomorrow and to give a greater reassurance to them, otherwise the anger that we see today in the voices of our youths we may not be able to manage it.
“We saw a bit of it in the ENDSARS protests and it’s not something that we will wish to have again. So, we need to begin to reassure them that we are interested in their future and in Nigeria that works for all where everybody’s voice is important,” he said.
The governor stated that the state government had a warm working relationship with the British High Commission and assured that the state would remain committed to nurturing the relationship for the mutual benefits of both countries.
He identified unemployment as one of the factors responsible for insecurity in the country, but disclosed that his administration had invested heavily in entrepreneurship programmes for youths, women and the girl-child in the state.
“Over time the high unemployment has created a pool of youths who do not have what to do and they have taken to crime and it is our hope that we will be able to tackle it as a country.
“We have entrepreneurship programmes to engage the youths to gain skills to enable them to become entrepreneurs. We have the Job Creation Office, Women Affairs, Youth Ministry, Ministry of Agriculture and recently, we created the Girl-child empowerment office,’’ he said.
On Value Added Tax (VAT), Okowa said that it was still a subject in the courts, but declared that “the real truth is that it is a consumption tax and everybody knows that it belongs to states’’.
He said “we have found ourselves where we are and I think that the states, including the Southern states have come out to speak boldly on this. We believe that it is supposed to be a collection to be made by the states.
“Yes, are the states prepared to collect it? There could be initial challenges and I think these are things that can be discussed and in the course of discussion, we are able to find out how best to do that.
“There could be a collaboration with the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) – between them and the states directly – to fine-tune the best way of doing the collection but the first thing is that it is a consumption tax and it ought to be at the level of the states.”
Earlier, Laing had said that her delegation was in Delta in furtherance of the relationship between the British High Commission and the State government.
She said that her country was concerned about the issues of VAT, education, insecurity and the 2023 general elections in the country.
The envoy assured of the support and cooperation of the British Government in ensuring that there would be a free and credible electoral process in 2023.