Northern governors reject southern counterparts’ position on rotational presidency, VAT

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Northern governors reject southern counterparts’ position on rotational presidency, VAT

The Northern State Governors’ Forum (NGF), the umbrella body of Nigerian governors from the northern part of the country on Monday in Kaduna. rejected the principle of rotational presidency, which has been in existence between the northern and southern parts of the country.

The position of the northern governors is in contrast with the decision of their southern counterparts who last Thursday declared that the presidency of the country must shift to their region in 2023 or no deal at all.

The NGF which made its position known in a communique issued in Kaduna at the end of its meeting held in Kaduna stressed that the rotation of the office of the president of the country was no longer tenable as it was against the constitution of the country.

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The chairman of the forum, Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong, who read the communique on behalf of his colleagues. said that the northern governors also opposed the position of their southern counterparts on value added tax (VAT), which generated controversy following the judgement of a High Court which ordered the collected of VAT to be vested in the states.

“Some Northern State Governors had earlier expressed views for a power-shift to the 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 wins the election,” Lalong said.

Lalong further said that the NGF deliberated on the controversy over the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) on which Lagos and Rivers States have made laws.

He said: “As responsible leaders, while we are constrained by the fact that the matter is subjudice, 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 others currently levied and collected by the Federal Government of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service.

“Rivers and Lagos State Governments have 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 that Lagos accounts for over 50% of our total 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 the Federal Government, the matter is sub judice and Northern States Governors Forum would respect this,” the communique  added.

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