VAT/PRESIDENCY SHIFT: NORTHERN STATES GOVERNORS’ FORUM (NGF) REACTS TO SOUTHERN COUNTERPART’S POSITIONS, AMONG OTHERS

By: Valentine Adese (JP),

Northern States Governors’ Forum (NGF) in an emergency meeting held on Monday, 27th September, 2021, at the Council Chambers of Sir, Kashim Ibrahim House Kaduna has resolved to reserve its comment on the ongoing debate on VAT collection in the country.

According to the Forum in a statement signed by its Chairman, Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong, who doubles as the Executive Governor of Plateau State, the Forum stated that, it would be subjudice to comment since, “the matter in still before a Court of competent jurisdiction and the Apex Court of the land”.

GOV. LALONG

The emergency meeting REALITY gathered was in  line with the Forum’s continuous efforts to address the challenges bedeviling Northern States.

The Forum in its resolutions during the meeting, condemned in totality, the comments and positions accredited to the Southern Governors’ Forum, with respect to collection of VAT and the proposed shift in the occupant of the Presidency, come 2023.

The Forum stated that, “Notwithstanding their comments, the Forum unanimously condemned the statement by the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) 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, which provides that, the elected President shall:-

(a) Score the majority votes;

(b) Score at least 25% of the votes cast in 2/3 States of the Federation.

(c) In the case of run-up simple majority win the election.

“The Northern State Governors Forum (NGF) considered the on-going National debate on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).

“As responsible leaders, while we are constraint by the fact that the matter is subjudice, we however for the purposes of educating the public make the following observations:

(a) The judgment 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.

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

(c)        VAT is being confused by these State Governments, 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.

(d) Another area of confusion is ignoring the 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.

(e) Until and unless the Supreme Court pronounces Judgment on the substantive matter between, Rivers State and Federal Government, the matter is subjudice and Northern States Governors Forum would respect this”.

READ THE FULL TEXT BELOW:-

RESOLUTIONS OF THE NORTHERN STATES GOVERNORS’ FORUM (NGF) MEETING WITH NORTHERN STATES’ EMIRS AND CHIEFS, HELD ON MONDAY, 27TH SEPTEMBER, 2021

The Northern States Governors’ Forum, in its continuous efforts to address the challenges bedeviling the Northern States, convened an Emergency Meeting today, Monday, 27th September, 2021, at the Council Chambers of Sir, Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.

The meeting was also attended by Chairmen of Northern States Traditional Councils led by His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto.

  1. The Forum 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 following resolutions were arrived at:-

  1. The Forum reviewed security updates from the Region and observed the need for a sustained synergy and coordinated efforts between the Federal and Northern State 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.

  1. The Forum appreciated the ongoing onslaught against banditry, kidnapping and Boko Haram especially, in the North East, parts of North West and North Central States. It encouraged the Armed forces and other security agencies to sustain the tempo to enable the security challenges be permanently addressed in the shortest time.
  2. The Forum received updates on the Renewable/Solar Energy Project and noted that, the 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.

The Forum called on States yet to process the request for allocation of land for the project to expedite action.

  1. The meeting received updates on activities of some Committees constituted by the Northern State Governors’ Forum and noted that, recommendations contained therein are being considered, with a view to coming up with implementation strategies.
  2. The Forum observed that, some Northern States’ Governors had earlier expressed views for a power-shift to three Geo-Political Zone in the South, with a view to promote unity and peace in the Nation.

Notwithstanding their comments, the Forum unanimously condemned the statement by the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) 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, which provides that, the elected President shall:-

(a) Score the majority votes;

(b) Score at least 25% of the votes cast in 2/3 States of the Federation.

(c) In the case of run-up simple majority win the election.

  1. The Northern State Governors Forum (NGF) considered the on-going National debate on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).

As responsible leaders, while we are constraint by the fact that the matter is subjudice, we however for the purposes of educating the public make the following observations:

(a) The judgment 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.

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

(c)        VAT is being confused by these State Governments, 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.

(d) Another area of confusion is ignoring the 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.

(e) Until and unless the Supreme Court pronounces Judgment on the substantive matter between, Rivers State and Federal Government, the matter is subjudice and Northern States Governors Forum would respect this.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 is the need to develop good and robust intelligence mechanism amongst States and was identified as a panacea.
  3. The Forum calls on Agencies to leave up to their responsibility, Traditional rulers are to equally mobilize their various communities in checkmating the ugly trend of criminality in their domains.
  4. The Forum NOTED the ugly trend in the spread of drugs and consumption amongst the teeming youths and therefore, called on all levels of Governments and communities to raise to the occasion by stemming the tide.
  5. The Forum also called on the Federal Government to expedite action on the well establish National Livestock Transformation Programme, as a spring board in transiting from the Open Grazing system as widely practice in the North.

His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Barr. Simon Bako Lalong KSGG,

Chairman, Northern States’ Governors’ Forum

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