In a discussion on Channels TV anchored by Seun Okinbaloye, featuring big wigs in the academic, political and legal systems; Professor Jideofor Adibe, a Professor of Political Science at Nasarawa State University, Keffi and publisher of Adonis & Abbey Publishers, a London and Abuja-based publisher of professional books and peer-reviewed and indexed academic journals. Professor Suleiman Abubakar director general of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, and Joseph Daudu (SAN), former NBA president, the issues of VAT collection and presidential rotation were at the fore again.
The discussion aimed to look at the political and legal implications of these matters which seem to be heating up the polity called Nigeria.
Professor Jideofor appeared to hit the nail on the head immediately with an accurate theoretical and practical explanation that what is going on is brinkmanship or simply put, a political bargaining going on between the South and the North. He opined that there will certainly be political solution to the issues.
He gave lucid explanation that the talks about VAT, open grazing and presidency rotation is a strategy by the Southern governors to reclaim their legitimacy which is under threat by non-state actors like Igboho and Nnamdi Kanu, by re articulating the grievances that the non-state actors are trying to champion.
Professor Adibe said that there is a cultural divorce between the old people and the young people, and that instead of bemoaning the good old days, we have to find how to capture the imaginations of the young people. We have to map out strategies peculiar to regions to come out of certain issues facing the country.
Prof Suleiman on the other hand began by saying that “the battle for power shift has been happening since 1960, the struggle for certain regional hegemony, especially quest for true federalism’. From his explanation, in the making of the nation called Nigeria, regions who have given autonomy to the Nigerian federal system should be able to lay claim to some rights in the federation, especially something like fiscal federalism.
He made an interesting observation by stating that the issues will become clearer as 2023 election approaches because they are related. The South is making claims beyond party lines; you can imagine Lagos (APC) joining force with Rivers (PDP) on the issue of VAT. He also blamed the Northern Elites for majority of the problems the region is facing.
Joseph Daudu from a legal angle explained that VAT is a consumption tax, at the point of purchase you pay the tax, it is not a one-off tax and so the fears by the northern governors of multiple taxation should not really be entertained. Daudu opined that for fairness, other states should be encouraged to develop means of revenue generation like Lagos, Rivers and Anambra. “A political solution is not feasible; it cannot even happen until there is a legal imprimatur on the matter” he said.
As regards the issue of presidency shifting to the south or not, Daudu said nothing is beyond negotiation. For him, the argument by some northern lawyers that the idea of rotation is unconstitutional is not correct. “Rotation cannot be unconstitutional; it is merely an unwritten rule that is in sync with the constitution”.
Professor Adibe rounded up in a hopeful position, saying that the brinkmanship going on, no matter how hot it appears to be, will produce a solution to the issues troubling the nation.