Northern governors reject rotational presidency, oppose South on VAT collection

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The Northern Governors Forum rose from their regional meeting on Monday to express opposition to the idea of rotational presidency and the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by state governments.

The stand of the Northern governors contradict the position of their Southern counterparts who wanted presidency be zoned to the south against 2023 and VAT to be collected by the states.

In a communique read by the Forum’s Chairman and Plateau Governor Simon Lalong in Kaduna, the Northern Governors said that the position of their colleagues in the south on the southern presidency is “condemnable”.

They said the call for rotational presidency is not in line with the nation’s constitution.

“The statement is quite contradictory with the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended that the elected President shall:- score the majority votes; score at least 25% of the votes cast in 2/3 States of the Federation.

“In the case of run-up, simple majority wins the election,” the statement said.

On VAT Collection, the northern Governors said their southern counterparts were confused.

They said the reason Lagos accounts for our 50% VAT collection was because most of the telecommunication companies, banks, manufacturing and other trading activities have their headquarters in the State with the resultant and wrongful attribution of VAT.

The Northern Governors said though they are constrained by the fact that the VAT matter is subjudice, it was important for them to speak on it to educate the public.

Governor Lalong said they will only respect the outcome of judgement on the VAT row from the Supreme Court.

“The judgement 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 has expressed support for this course of action.

“VAT is being confused by these State Governments as a sales tax. If every State enacted its own VAT Law, multiple taxations 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 account 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

“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,” he said.

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