Governors of the 17 states in Southern Nigeria yesterday rose from a one-day meeting with a resolution to push for the entrenchment of fiscal federalism in the Nigerian Federation.
Consequently, in the ongoing legal struggle between the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Rivers State government on who is entitled to collect Value Added Tax (VAT), the Southern governors took a joint position to support the collection VAT by state governments, saying the task falls within the powers of the state.
Coming under the auspices of the Southern Governors’ Forum, they said their position on the contentious issue of VAT collection tallied with their earlier commitment to structural and fiscal federalism as espoused at the inaugural meeting of the forum held on Tuesday, 11th May, 2021, at Asaba Delta State.
The Forum said southern states were determined to capitalise on the legislative competence of their respective state houses of assembly as well as their representatives in the National Assembly to pursue the inclusion of fiscal federalism in the Nigerian Constitution during the ongoing constitutional amendment process.
In a communique issued at the end of their meeting held at Government House, Enugu, and signed and read by chairman of the forum and Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the governors reaffirmed their earlier commitment to structural and fiscal federalism and called on lawmakers in the southern state assemblies and their counterparts in the National Assembly to pursue the inclusion of those principles in the Nigerian Constitution during the ongoing constitutional amendment.
The governors expressed satisfaction at the rate at which the states in 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 yet to enact the law to do so expeditiously.
The Forum also encouraged the full operationalisation of the already agreed regional security outfits, which should meet with, share intelligence and collaborate with their counterparts to ensure the security and safety of the region.
The governors expressed satisfaction at the handling of issues around the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and ownership structure of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the larger Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF).
They also reiterated their earlier position that the next president of Nigeria must come from Southern Nigeria in line with the principles of equity, justice and fairness.
Present at the meeting were Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).
The deputy governors present were Bisi Egbeyemi (Ekiti), Rauf Olaniyan (Oyo), Dr Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi), Ude Oko-Chukwu (Abia), Philip Shuaibu (Edo), Prof Ivara Esu (Cross River) and Prof Placid Njoku of Imo State.