The Northern States Governors’ Forum, (NSGF) yesterday rose from their emergency meeting in Kaduna, condemning what they called the attempt by their Southern counterparts to demand for the presidency in 2023.
The governors disclosed that even though some Northern governors on their own had asked that power should shift to the South in the interest of peace, and unity, the stand of the Southern governors was unconstitutional and stands condemned.
The resolution of the meeting, which was read to newsmen by Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong, the Plateau State Governor and Chairman of the Forum, also said the demand of the Lagos and Rivers states’ governors on Value Added Tax (VAT) which has been endorsed by many Southern governors will lead to multiple taxation and hamper interstate trade.
Lalong, flanked by his Kaduna and Sokoto state counterparts, Nasir El-Rufai and Aminu Tambuwal respectively, also said the states are confusing VAT with sales tax and added that they will take a decision on the matter after the judgment of the Supreme Court on the vexed issue.
The meeting, which was held with Northern states’ Emirs and Chiefs, observed that: “Some Northern states governors had earlier expressed views for a power-shift to the three geo-political zones in the South with a view to promoting unity and peace in the nation. Notwithstanding their comments, the Forum unanimously condemns the statement by the Southern Governors Forum that the Presidency must go to the South. The statement is quite contradictory with the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended.”
On the issue of VAT the governors said: “As responsible leaders while we are constraint by the fact that the matter is sub judice we, however, for the purposes of educating the public observed that the judgement of the Federal High Court calls to question the constitutionality of VAT, withholding tax, education tax, Niger Delta Development Commission, National Information Technology Development Agency, 13% derivation, National Economic Development Council and many other currently levied and collected by the Federal Government of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service.
“Rivers and Lagos State governments had enacted their own VAT laws and the Southern Governors Forum have expressed support for this course of action,” saying that: “VAT is being confused by these state governments as a sales tax. If every state enacted its own VAT Law, multiple taxation will result in increases of prices of goods and services and collapse in interstate trade. VAT is not a production tax like excise, but terminal tax which is paid by the ultimate consumer.
“Another confusion is ignoring the observation above and its “overall effect”. The reason Lagos accounts for our 50% Vat collection is because most of the telecommunications companies, banks, manufacturing and other trading activities have their headquarters in Lagos with the resultant and wrongful attribution of VAT. Until and unless the Supreme Court pronounces judgement on the substantive matter between Rivers State and Federal Government, the matter is sub judice and Northern States Governors Forum would respect this.”
The Forum also: “Decried the high level of conspiracies being perpetrated by some Judicial Officers in releasing/granting bail to arrested criminals. This attitude sabotages the fight against criminality, therefore, there is the need to develop good and robust intelligence mechanisms amongst states that were identified as a panacea.”
The meeting also “reviewed security updates from the Region and observed the need for a sustained synergy and coordinated efforts between the Federal and Northern states governments while noting success of recent measures.
The Forum also called on: “Traditional rulers to equally mobilize their various communities in checkmating the ugly trend of criminality in their domains.”
The Forum noted the ugly trend in the spread of drugs and consumption amongst the teeming youth and therefore, calls on all levels of Governments and communities to rise to the occasion by stemming the tide.
“The Forum also called on the Federal Government to expedite action on the well-established National Livestock Transformation Programme as a spring board in transiting from the open grazing system as widely practiced in the North,” they said.