The forum of the Governors of the Northern States convened in Kaduna on Monday to discuss key issues affecting their interests. Topical in their deliberations were the controversy on the value added tax, VAT, rotational presidency, and insecurity in the region.
The forum opposed the call by the Southern Governors’ Forum for a Nigerian president of southern extraction in 2023, stating that it was against the constitution of the country.
Their counterparts in the south had, at their recent meeting in Enugu, reiterated their demand that the Presidency should shift to the South in 2023.
The Northern forum noted that, although some of them had endorsed the Southern governors’ call for power shift to the South, the regional governors collectively condemned such a call.
They added that the elected president must meet the requirements which include getting “the majority votes, scoring at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in two thirds of the states of the federation; in case of a runoff, a simple majority win.”
These were contained in a communiqué issued after the emergency meeting, which also had in attendance the chairmen of council of chiefs across the northern states.
The Chairman of the Northern Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, who read out the communiqué on behalf of his colleagues, also noted that the issue of the collection of VAT, Value added Tax, by states was before the court.
“The Northern State Governors’ Forum considered the ongoing national debate on the collection of Value Added Tax. As responsible leaders, while we are constrained by the fact that the matter is sub-judice, we however for the purposes of educating the public make the following observations:
“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, and Federal Inland Revenue Service.
“VAT is being confused by these state governments as a sales tax. If every state enacts its own VAT law, multiple taxation will result in increase in 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 accounts for our 50 per cent 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.