It appears big cracks now are visible in the walls of the Southern Governors forum as the host governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state was the only governor from the South East that attended their all-important meeting on Thursday.
His counterparts from Abia, Ebonyi, and Imo sent representatives while that of Anambra State did not send any representative. The closed-door meeting, which was coordinated by Ondo Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, commenced with nine Governors and seven deputies.
Other Governors in attendance at the meeting include Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Gbenga Oyetola (Osun); Babajide Sanwo-Olu(Lagos); Nyesom Wike(Rivers); Udom Emmanuel(Akwa Ibom); Duoye Diri (Bayelsa) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).
The Deputy Governors who attended the meeting include Prof Evara Esu (Cross River); Udo Okochukwu(Abia); Bisi Egbeyemi (Ekiti); Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi); Rauf Olaniyan(Oyo); Philip Shuaibu (Edo) and Prof. Placid Njoku(Imo).
The Governors in a communiqué read by Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo expressed their support for the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by state governments.
Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said that the governors resolved and affirmed the position that the collection of VAT fell within the powers of state governments.
“We resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the state.
“The meeting reaffirmed its earlier commitments to fiscal federalism and emphasized the need to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the on-going constitutional amendment,’’ he said.
Akeredolu urged states in the south to leverage on the competence of their houses of assembly and representation at the National Assembly to pursue the goal.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State Patmos Media Line had reported dragged the Federal Court of Appeal, Abuja to the Supreme Court for ruling that both the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS which lost the case at a Federal Court in Port Harcourt and the rivers State should maintain the Status quo of FIRS still collecting VAT.
In the Patmos Media Line report, it was stated that FIRS stand to lose as an organization a handsome N92.5 Billion if the case is dashed in court.
Northern Governors had shouted against the idea from Wike on the new development which other vital states like Lagos and Ogun caught like virus and others are studying the situation with their Houses of Assembly on standby to enact their own laws.
We also reported that one of the touched Governors, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello had pleaded with his brother Governors to be their brothers’ keeper and drop the idea claiming many states in the North will surfer but his Katsina counterpart, Masari a former Speaker of the House of Representatives had vowed they would link with the Presidency and National Assembly to ensure Southern Governors does not have their way.
Critics of what former Senate Deputy President, Ekwerenmadu called ‘Feeding Bottle Federalism’ said The South was collecting VAT from alcohol which the North was destroying with pride in their area which is immoral, proud and hypocritical adding that even the sharing formula was in favor of the North making them to reap where they did not sow.
Political observers believe the Wike act has actually activated the rejected call for restricting as FG will have to take a second look on matters that are causing agitations.
He said that the meeting reviewed the state of the nation and the progress made in the implementation of the ban on open grazing of cattle in the south of Nigeria.
“The meeting expressed satisfaction with the rate at which states in the south of Nigeria are amending or enacting the anti-open grazing law.
“This aligns with the uniform template and aspiration of governors in the south and we encourage the states that have yet to enact the law to do so expeditiously.
“The meeting agreed to encourage the full operationalisation of the already agreed regional security which will share intelligence and collaborate toward the safety and security of the region,’’ he said.
Akeredolu said the governors were satisfied with the handling of issues surrounding the Petroleum Industry Act and ownership of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation by the larger Nigerian Governors Forum.
“The meeting reiterated its earlier position that the next president of Nigeria will come from the south of Nigeria in line with the politics of equity, justice and fairness,’’ Akeredolu said.
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 review 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 Structural and 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. IfeanyiUgwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in November 2021.
Arakunrin Oluwarotimí O. Akeredólu; SAN Governor, Ondo State and Chairman, Southern Governors’ Forum