Simon Lalong
Lalong

OBINNA EZUGWU

Governors of the 19 states of Northern Nigeria, have rejected the idea of rotational presidency, insisting that it is unconstitutional.

The governors took the position in a communique issued after their meeting today in Kaduna, in response to the position of their Southern counterparts that the country’s next president should come from their region.

Arising from an emergency meeting with northern traditional rulers at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna, on Monday, the Northern Governors Forum said though some Northern States Governors had earlier expressed views for a power-shift to three Geo-Political Zone in the South, with a view to promoting unity and peace in the nation, the statement by the Southern Governors Forum that the Presidency must go to the South is unacceptable.

Reading from the resolutions of the meeting, Plateau State Governor and Chairman of the Forum, Simon Bako Lalong, said: “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 secure at least 25 percent of the votes cast in 2/3 states of the federation. In the case of run-up simple majority win the election.

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

The governors also deliberated on the controversy on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) on which Lagos and Rivers States have made laws and also opposed the position of their southern counterparts.

“As responsible leaders, while we are constraint by the fact that the matter is subjudice, we however for the purposes of educating the public make the following observations:

“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 Governments 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 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,” the statement said