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Southern govs back collection of VAT by states, power shift, ban on open grazing

THE Southern Governors’ Forum today declared support for the collection of the Value Added Tax (VAT) by states.

The forum also charged governors to expedite action on the anti-open grazing bill.

In a communiqué issued at the end of their meeting in Enugu and signed by the Chairman of the forum, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said they “resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”

The meeting was attended by nine governors and seven deputy governors.

The governors at the meeting were Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers) Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Doye Diri (Bayelsa) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).

The deputy governors in attendance were – Placid Njoku (Imo), Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi (Ekiti), Phillip Shuaibu (Edo), Rauf Olaniyan (Oyo), Prof. Evara Esu (Cross River), Ude Okochukwu (Abia) and Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi).

Some state governments including Lagos, Rivers, and Ogun had initiated processes for the collection of VAT in their domains.

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had last week signed the VAT bill into law in the country.

The Rivers State government on its part is embroiled in a dispute with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) over the VAT collection.

The communiqué read: “the Southern Governors Forum expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in southern Nigeria are enacting or amending the anti-open grazing laws, which align with the uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors and encouraged the states that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously.

“We also encourage the full operationalisation of already agreed regional security outfits, which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate to ensure the security and safety of the region.

“The Forum reaffirms its earlier commitment to fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the Forum held on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at Asaba, Delta State and emphasised the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly, as well as representation in the National Assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.

“The meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states. It also expresses satisfaction with the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act and ownership of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation by the larger Nigerian Governors’ Forum.”

Full text of the communique below:

COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING OF THE GOVERNORS OF SOUTHERN NIGERIA IN THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ENUGU, ENUGU STATE, ON THURSDAY, 16TH SEPTEMBER 2021.

The Nigerian Southern Governors’ Forum at its meeting of today, Thursday, 16th September 2021 held in the Government House, Enugu, Enugu State reviewed the state of the nation and the progress of implementation of the decisions reached in her previous meetings and further resolved as follows:

1. Expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the States in the Southern Nigeria are enacting or amending the Anti- Open Grazing Laws which align with the uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors and encouraged the States that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously.

2. Encouraged the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfits; which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate, to ensure the security and safety of the region.

3. Reaffirmed its earlier commitment to fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the Forum held on Tuesday, 11th May 2021 at Asaba, Delta State and emphasized the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly as well as representation in the National assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.

4. Following from paragraph “3” above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the States.

5. Expressed satisfaction with the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the larger Nigerian Governors’ Forum.

6. Reiterated their earlier position that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.

7. The Forum thanked the host Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in November 2021.

Arakunrin Oluwarotimi O. Akeredolu, SAN
Governor, Ondo State and Chairman, Southern Governors’ Forum

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