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KADUNA – Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) on Monday condemned the statement by Southern Governors’ Forum that the presidency must go to the South in 2023 after President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term, saying it is unconstitutional.

In a communiqué signed by Gov­ernor Simon Lalong of Plateau and Chairman, Northern States Gover­nors’ Forum, after their emergency meeting to deliberate on issues af­fecting the region, which top on the burner was the issue of insecurity and VAT, in Kaduna, the Forum said the statement was 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 of the states, and in the case of run-up simple majority win the election.

The 19 governors of the northern states also 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, assuring of its readi­ness to work in synergy with the Federal Government 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.

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

“The meeting received updates on activities of some committees constituted by the Northern States Gover­nors’ Forum and noted that recommendations contained therein are being considered with a view to coming up with implementation strat­egies.

“The Forum observed that some Northern states’ gover­nors had earlier expressed views for a power-shift to three geo-political 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 win the election”, the governors said in the communique.

On the on-going national debate on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT), the northern governors said, “As responsible leaders while we are constraint by the fact that the matter is sub judice we, however, for the purposes of educating the public make the following observations:

“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 governments 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 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 collapse 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 Forum also called on the Federal Government to expedite action on the well-es­tablished National Livestock Transformation Programme as a spring board in transit­ing from the open grazing system as widely practised in the North.

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