….insists on southern president in 2023
The Southern Governors Forum (SGF) rose from their meeting held in Enugu State on Thursday with an affirmation to collectively pursue the retention of the Value Added Tax (VAT) generated by each state.
The Forum also used the occasion to ruminate over some national issues, as well the level of compliance of the member states on the compliance with the anti-open grazing law.
According to the communique issued by the governors and signed by Governor Olurotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, the meeting expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance and encouraged others yet to comply to do so expeditiously.
The meeting encouraged “full optimisation of the already agreed regional security outfits which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate to ensure the security and safety of the region.”
On the issue of federalism, the Forum “reaffirmed the commitment to fiscal federalism as agreed at Asaba, Delta State on May 11, 2021, and encourage the states to leverage legislative competence of their state houses of assembly and representation at National Assembly to ensure to include it in the Constitution”.
In line with the above position, the Forum affirmed that the collection of VAT is within the competence of states.
The governors aligned their position with that of the larger Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, on the ownership of the NNPC and on the PIA while insisting that next president must come from the South.
The full text of the seven-point communique reads:
“The Nigerian Southern Governors’ Forum at its meeting of today, Thursday, 16th September 2021 held in the Government House, Enugu, Enugu State reviewed the state of the nation and the progress of implementation of the decisions reached in her previous meetings and further resolved as follows:
“Expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the states in the Southern Nigeria are enacting or amending the Anti- Open Grazing Laws which align with the uniform template and aspiration of Southern Governors and encouraged the States that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously.
“Encouraged the full operationalization of already agreed regional security outfits; which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate, to ensure the security and safety of the region.
“Reaffirmed its earlier commitment to fiscal federalism as resolved at the inaugural meeting of the Forum held on Tuesday, 11th May 2021 at Asaba, Delta State and emphasized the need for the Southern States to leverage the legislative competence of their respective State Houses of Assembly as well as representation in the National assembly to pursue its inclusion in the Nigerian Constitution through the ongoing constitutional amendment.
“Following from paragraph “3” above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the States.
“Expressed satisfaction with the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and ownership of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the larger Nigerian Governors’ Forum.
“Reiterated their earlier position that the next President of Nigeria must come from the Southern part of Nigeria in line with politics of equity, justice and fairness.
“The Forum thanked the host Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, and chose Rivers State as the next host for the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in November 2021.”
Nine governors and seven deputy governors out of the 17 states in southern Nigeria attended the meeting.
Governors present were Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos and Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta.
Others were Akeredolu (Ondo), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Douye Diri (Bayelsa) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).
The deputy governors in attendance were Mr Bisi Egbeyemi (Ekiti State), Mr Rauf Olaniyan (Oyo State), Dr Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi), Chief Ude Oko-Chukwu (Abia), Mr Philip Shuaibu (Edo), Professor Ivara Esu (Cross River) and Professor Placid Njoku (Imo).
Anambra was not represented at the meeting.
The next meeting of the governors will hold in Rivers in November.