The Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) has said the insistence by their southern counterparts that the next president must come from the south is against the constitution.
The northern governors and traditional rulers met in Kaduna on Tuesday, to deliberate on some national issues, including the controversy surrounding the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by states and the calls for power shift to the south in 2023.
The governors stated that the provision of the constitution on the issue is that an elected president shall score the majority votes and, at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in two-thirds of the federation.
A communique signed by Simon Lalong, Plateau State governor and chairman of the NGF after the meeting, reads:
“The Forum observed that some Northern State Governors had earlier expressed views for a power-shift to three geopolitical 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, 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, simple majority wins the election”.
On the issue of VAT, the NGF said southern governors’ insistence on states collection might lead to multiple taxation, increase in prices of goods and services and collapse in interstate trade.
The NGF also claimed that the only reason Lagos accounts for our 50 per cent of 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.
The governors added that unless the Supreme Court pronounces judgement on the substantive matter between Rivers and federal government, the matter is sub judice.
“VAT is being confused by these State Government as a sales tax”, they said.
“If every State enacted its own VAT Law, multiple taxations 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.
“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 the Northern States Governors Forum would respect this”.
The northern governors also commended security agencies for their efforts in fighting insecurity in the region.
“The Forum reviewed security updates from the Region and observed the need for sustained synergy and coordinated efforts between the Federal and Northern State Governments, while noting success of recent measures.
“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 NGF added.
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