2023: Your position on powershift unconstitutional, Northern govs tell Southern govs

• Says it is sub-judice to act on VAT while issue is in court

The Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) has said the position of their Southern counterparts that power should shift to the south is against the spirit and letter of the constitution.

This was part of the resolutions reached by the governors at the end of an emergency meeting of the forum held in Kaduna on Monday.

It also said it is sub-judice to act on the controversial Value Added Tax (VAT) while the case between Rivers State and the Federal Government is before the Supreme Court.

On open grazing, it called on the Federal Government to expedite action on the National Livestock Transformation Programme.

The resolutions were read by the chairman of the forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, in Kaduna on Monday.

Commenting on the security situation of the region, the forum observed the need for a sustained synergy and coordinated efforts between the Federal and Northern States Governments.

The meeting also noted with concern the constraint of the security services and urged the Armed Forces to embark on simultaneous operations.

The forum appreciated the ongoing onslaught against banditry, kidnapping and Boko Haram especially in the North East and parts of North West and the North Central States and encouraged the Armed forces and other security agencies to sustain the tempo to enable the security challenges to be permanently addressed in the shortest time.

On the ongoing debate on powershift, the forum noted that even though some Northern governors had earlier expressed views for a powershift to three geopolitical zones in the South with a view to promoting unity and peace in the nation.

It said notwithstanding their comments, the forum unanimously condemns the statement by the Southern Governors Forum that the presidency must go to the South, saying the statement is quite contradictory with the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended that the elected president shall:
score the majority votes; score at least 25% of the votes cast in 2/3 states of the federation. In the case of run-up, a simple majority wins the election.

The Northern State Governors Forum also considered the ongoing national debate on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT), saying 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 make the following observations:

“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 others currently levied and collected by the Federal Government of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service.

“Rivers and Lagos State Government had enacted their own VAT laws and the Southern Governors Forum has expressed support for this course of action.

“VAT is being confused by these state governments as a sales tax. If every state enacts its own VAT Law, multiple taxations will result in an increase in prices of goods and services and a collapse of interstate trade. VAT is not a production tax like excise, but terminal tax which is paid by the ultimate consumer.”

It added that the reason Lagos accounts for our 50% Vat collection is because most of the telecommunication companies, banks, manufacturing and other trading activities have their headquarters in Lagos with the resultant and wrongful attribution of VAT.

“Thus, the forum said 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.

“On grazing, the forum also calls on the Federal Government to expedite action on the well-established National Livestock Transformation Programme as a springboard in transiting from the open-grazing system as widely practised in the North.

“The Traditional Rulers Councils appreciated the efforts made so far by the NSGF in addressing the key areas of challenges facing the Northern states, they expressed their willingness, solidarity and collaboration with the governors in addressing these challenges particularly the issue of security. It was equally resolved that perpetrators of crimes should be dealt with irrespective of their status in the society.

“The forum 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 the need to develop good and robust intelligence mechanisms amongst states was identified as a panacea.

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