Governor Nyesom Wike has accused the Federal Government of treating Rivers State as if it was not part of Nigeria.
Wike said this on Monday when he received a delegation from The Sun, which visited to present to him a letter notifying him of his emergence as winner of the Man of the Year 2020 award in Port Harcourt.
He said it was an injustice to exclude the state from those to benefit from the proposed World Bank loan.
He described it as hatred against a major state servicing the national economy.
He said: “Look at the hatred: that you collect money from World Bank and Rivers State is excluded.
“If fiscal federalism does not start today, it will start tomorrow.
“That is essence of governance.
“Give me what belongs to my state to develop my state.”
Wike said he was baffled by the way things are done in Nigeria, condemning politicisation of government’s good policies.
On the controversial collection of Valued Added Tax by states, Governor Wike said he had no objection being a “brother’s keeper” so long as things were done legally.
He said: “Let me say clearly: it is unfortunate what we have in this country today.
“Ordinarily, I shouldn’t have said this.
“Bu, what I don’t understand is how everything is being politicised to ethnicity and religion.
“I have not seen a country that will never come out to say this is the right thing we are doing and this is the wrong thing we are doing, we need to correct it.
“When you raise an issue everybody knows is wrong, instead of people to see it from that perspective that this is wrong, we see it from the perspective of ethnicity.
“We see it from the perspective of religion.
“I have never seen a country like this in my life where something that is black and white, we begin to look at it well…are you sure it does not look like dark, blue?
“You don’t even need to be a lawyer to know that VAT is not in item 58 or 59 on second schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
“Everybody knows that.
“It is not even in the Concurrent List.
“Therefore, it falls under Residual List.
“It is not arguable.”
Wike called on the Federal Government to encourage states to develop their areas instead of depending on the monthly federal allocation.
He said: “Nigeria should encourage states to be strong enough to have resources to develop their states.
“We are in a federal system where we are practising unitary system.
“Everybody at the end of the month would rush to Abuja to share money.
“Nobody comes back to the state to think how do develop his state.
“The issue of VAT did not start from Rivers State alone.
“It started in Lagos State.
“Lagos challenged it in the Supreme Court.
“Unfortunately, Supreme Court said, look, you wouldn’t have sued the Federal Government, what you should have done was to sue the agency.
“We (Rivers) came up to sue the agency that you are not entitled to VAT.
“And it looks like we are doing something to cause crisis in the country, shamelessly, to some states, who believe that they would only at the end of the month go to Abuja to collect whatever is in the federal pool.
“Some people say, be your brother’s keeper.
“I have no problem being my brother’s keeper.
“But I will not be my brother’s keeper when I know that my brother is an armed robber.
“I can’t do that.
“Why not come out to say look, let’s tell ourselves the simple truth…
“You cannot expect me to be my brother’s keeper when you are doing an illegal thing.
“Somebody is joining FIRS to do illegal thing and you are saying I should be my brother’s keeper and you are doing what the law say you should not do.
“I won’t do it.
“I will be a brother’s keeper when you are doing the right thing.
“So, if as a state, you have difficulty, I have said it before that there is no place in the world where states are equal.
“Every state has its own advantages and disadvantages.
“It is the ability to be creative, to know how to turn your own disadvantage to something that will help your people.
“We are using the instrument of the law to say what you are doing is wrong.
“And instead of them to encourage us, they are using religion, ethnicity.”