Lagosians Support Sanwo-Olu’s Actions on VAT, Open Grazing.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Lagosians have thrown their weight behind the Lagos State Value Added Tax (VAT) Law and the Anti-Open Grazing Bill, a poll result showed on Thursday.

The VAT Bill was signed into law by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on September 10. He is expected to sign the Anti-Open Grazing Bill into law soon.

Both legislations that enjoy 86 per cent support of the population got accelerated hearing and passage by the House of Assembly.

The poll, undertaken by a Lagos-based public relations and ICT consultancy firm, FREDDAN Continental Services, was conducted via Short Message Services (SMS) from between September 12 and 15.

According to the result, most of the participants agreed that the domestication of VAT collection will shore up Lagos capacity to deliver dividends of democracy to residents.

The survey data, which was made available to The Nation yesterday by FREDDAN’s Executive Director, Olufemi Lawson, showed that over 50,000 residents across the 20 local government areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) received the SMS poll. They were contacted on the platforms of major telecommunication networks.

The councils are: Agege, Alimosho, Apapa, Ifako-Ijaye, Ikeja, Kosofe, Mushin, Oshodi-Isolo, Shomolu, Eti-Osa, Lagos, Island, Lagos Mainland, Surulere, Ojo, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Badagry, Ikorodu, Ibeju-Lekki and Epe.

The message, sent to the recipients through their mobile phone numbers, reads: “Do you support Governor Sanwo-Olu’s Bill on VAT and Anti-Open Grazing? VOTE YES OR NO”.

In their responses, 21,125 out of the 24,564 participants voted “YES” to register their support for the governor’s decision. Three thousand, four hundred and thirty-nine resident sent ‘NO’ to register their opposition to VAT and Anti-Open Grazing Bill legislations.

The remaining 25,436 residents were yet to turn in their responses before the survey ended. The statistics amounted to about 86 per cent in favour and 14 per cent against respectively.

Lawson explained that the poll was supervised by his organisation’s team comprising experienced development experts, media entrepreneurs and data analysts.

He noted that the two top issues raised by the poll were on the front burner of public discussion, particularly by Lagosians, “who are the largest contributors to the VAT portfolio in the country.”

The data generated from the state-wide survey also showed concerns over the menace of farmers/herders conflicts, triggered by the open grazing of cattle.

Lawson said: “The poll found no significant differences between respondents who had majorly subscribed to participate, before and after the eventual outcome.

“The poll which we conducted via telephone SMS requested respondents if they were in support or not of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s proposed bill on VAT and anti-open grazing recently presented to the Lagos State House of Assembly,

“Analysis of the poll results shows there is a popular acceptance of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration’s decision on these Bills and this cut across almost every section of Lagosians.”

There is a raging controversy over which tier of government (between the federal and state) should collect the sales tax

The Rivers and Lagos governments are in court against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to defend their laws on VAT. The two states are leading contributors to the VAT revenues, which are shared to all states and the Federal Government. The FIRS takes four percent of the collection.

Also yesterday, Governors of the 17 southern states rose from their meeting in Enugu with a resolution backing state’s collection of VAT. They also reaffirmed their stand on anti-open grazing in their domains.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal in Abuja reserved ruling on Lagos’ application to be made a respondent in the appeal filed by the FIRS.

The appeal by the FIRS is against the August 9, 2021 judgment by Justice Steven Pam of the Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, voiding the VAT Act and affirming the state’s right to collect VAT.

(The Nation)

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