By GARBA MUHAMMAD, Kaduna
Governors of the 19 northern states have described as unconstitutional, the position of their Southern counterparts that the country’s next President must come from their region.
At a meeting in Lagos in July, Southern Governors had demanded that power must shift to their region.
However, arising from an emergency meeting with northern traditional rulers at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna, on Monday, the Northern Governors Forum said though some Northern States Governors had earlier expressed views for a power-shift to three Geo-Political Zone in the South, with a view to promoting unity and peace in the nation, the statement by the Southern Governors Forum that the Presidency must go to the South is unacceptable.
Reading from the resolutions of the meeting, Plateau State governor and chairman of the Forum, Simon Bako Lalong, said:
“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 secure at least 25 percent of the votes cast in 2/3 states of the federation. In the case of run-up simple majority win the election.”
The Northern State Governors Forum (NSGF) noted the on-going National debate on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
In their resolution from an emergency meeting with Emirs and Chiefs over VAT insecurity and alternative power source for the region on Monday in Kaduna, the forum also observed that as responsible leaders while constraint by the fact that the matter is sub judice they however stated that for the purposes of educating the public it made the following observations 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 Inlands Revenue Service.
“Rivers and Lagos State Government had enacted their own VAT laws and the Southern Governors Forum have expressed support for this course of action.
“VAT is being confused by these State Government 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 collapsed 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 observation above and its ‘overall effect’. The reason Lagos account 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
“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 meeting which was attended by Chairmen of Northern States Traditional Council led by His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto, also discussed issues of Peace, Progress, Development and well-being of the Northern States.
The Forum took stock of progress made in handling challenges of Banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and insurgency.
After extensive deliberations, the forum among others 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 meeting also noted with concern the constraint of the security services and urged the Armed Forces to embark on simultaneous operations and resolved to share the plans of the Frontline States come up with common with other Region; and assured of its readiness to work in synergy with the Federal Government of Nigeria in finding lasting solution to the current security challenges.
The forum appreciated the ongoing onslaught against banditry, kidnapping and Boko Haram especially in the North East and parts of North West and North Central States and encouraged the Armed forces and other security agencies to sustain the tempo to enable the security challenges be permanently addressed in the shortest time.
The forum also received updates on the Renewable / Solar Energy Project and NOTED that request for land for the project had been submitted and are being processed by the Northern States.
The Committee had commenced negotiations in a public private arrangement and sovereign guarantees to ensure bankability of the project by multilateral financial organizations.
They called on States yet to process the request for allocation of land for the project to expedite action.
The resolution was signed by the Forums chairman and Governor of Plateau State Simon Bako Lalong. (With additional reports by Daily Trust).