Nigeria: What Southern Governors Said About VAT, Anti-Open Grazing Laws, Security

16 September 2021

The meeting of the Southern governors held in Enugu, South-east Nigeria.

Governors of the states in Southern Nigeria Thursday said they believe states should be responsible for the collection of Value Added Tax, VAT. The governors also said they were satisfied with the efforts of each of the 17 states to pass the anti-open grazing laws to prevent open grazing of cattle.

At least 10 of the 17 southern states have passed anti-open grazing laws including Ekiti, Lagos, Enugu, Osun and Ondo states.

The two decisions were part of the resolutions the governors reached in their meeting held in Enugu, South-east Nigeria.

"... the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the States," one of the seven items in the communique signed by the governors, states.

The meeting "expressed satisfaction with 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 that are yet to enact this law to do so expeditiously."

The communique was shared with PREMIUM TIMES by the spokesperson to the Enugu State governor.

There has been controversy over the collection of VAT after a federal high court ruled that it was not the duty of the federal government to collect it. The tax had been collected by the federal government since the military era although the money is shared by the three tiers of government.

Following the court ruling, Lagos and Rivers states passed laws that allowed them to collect VAT in their states.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which used to collect the VAT on behalf of the federal government, has, however, challenged the court ruling at the appellate court.

Read the full communique of the southern governors below.

COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING OF THE GOVERNORS OF SOUTHERN NIGERIA IN THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ENUGU, ENUGU STATE, ON THURSDAY, 16TH SEPTEMBER 2021.

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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Following from paragraph "3" above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the States.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

Arakunrin Oluwarotimi O. Akeredolu, SAN

Governor, Ondo State and Chairman, Southern Governors' Forum

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