THE Southern States Governors Forum on Thursday threw its weight behind the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by state governments, a communiqué read at the end of a meeting of the forum by its Chairman, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, disclosed.
The governors who met on Thursday in Enugu, Governor Akeredolu said, 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 emphasised the need to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the on-going constitutional amendment,” the governor said.
Some southern states such as Rivers and Lagos have already enacted laws to collect VAT while others are in the process of doing so.
Akeredolu urged southern states to leverage the competence of their houses of assembly and representation at the National Assembly to pursue the goal.
He said the meeting, attended by nine governors and seven deputy governors out of the 17 states in the South, 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.
According to the forum, 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.
Governors who attended the meeting include Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo, Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun, Douye Diri of Bayelsa and Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State.
The deputy governors in attendance were Bisi Egbeyemi (Ekiti), Rauf Olaniyan (Oyo), Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi), Ude Oko-Chukwu (Abia), Philip Shuaibu (Edo), Ivara Esu (Cross River) and Placid Njoku (Imo). Anambra State was not represented at the meeting.
The next meeting of the forum will hold in Rivers in November.