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Northern Govs., traditional rulers condemn Southern counterparts on zoning, VAT principles

Northern Govs., traditional rulers condemn Southern counterparts on zoning, VAT principles

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Northern Govs., traditional rulers condemn Southern counterparts on zoning, VAT principles

By Matthew ELOYI

Northern Governors and traditional rulers have condemned the unanimous resolution of the Governors of the Southern States of the Nigerian Federation that the 2023 presidency be zoned to the south.

The castigation which came from a meeting held in Kaduna under the auspices of the Northern State Governors’ Forum (NSGF) on Monday, saw the Governors and the traditional rulers across the region unanimously condemning the statement by the Southern Governors Forum that the Presidency must go to the South.

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According to the forum in an 11 point resolutions, which had in attendance Chairmen of the Northern States Traditional Council led by the Sultan of Sokoto, the statement is quite contradictory with the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended which provides that the elected President shall “score the majority votes; score at least 25% of the votes cast in 2/3 States of the Federation and in the case of run-up simple majority win the election.”

The forum further distanced itself from the earlier position of some Northern States Governors who expressed views for a power-shift to three Geo-Political Zones in the South with a view to promoting unity and peace in the Nation.

It would be recalled that the Governors of the Southern States under the aegis of the Southern Governors’ Forum had insisted on their resolution of having the 2023 presidential seat zoned to the South at their last meeting on Thursday, 16th September 2021, held in Enugu.

On the controversy trailing the national debate on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT), the Northern Governors at the emergency meeting held at the Council Chamber Sir, Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna, argued that the Southern State Governors have confused VAT for sales tax.

The Governors stated that though the matter was presently contested within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for determination, enlightenment was important, arguing that 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.

“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, Federal Inlands Revenue Service.

“Rivers and Lagos State Government had 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 Government 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 collapsed 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% 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.

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“Until and unless the Supreme Court pronounces judgement on the substantive matter between Rivers State and Federal Government, the matter is sub judice and Northern States Governors Forum would respect this,” the forum argued.

The subject on State collection of VAT has continued to generate controversies since River States took the lead to pass legislation to empower it to collect VAT, a development that was replicated in Lagos State. Contention by the Federal Government have led to court struggles to determine the legality or otherwise.

Northern Govs., traditional rulers condemn Southern counterparts on zoning, VAT principles

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