As the battle over decentralisation of Value Added Tax (VAT) collection intensified, five governors across the South South region of the country have aligned with Rivers and Lagos States respectively on the matter by declaring interest to join the suit before the Supreme Court which was filed by Rivers Government demanding that states and not Federal Government should collect the tax.
The five state governors who declared the interest joining the suit include that of Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta states, adding that aside VAT collection, they would in line with other regions unveil a joint security outfit in no distant future.
Rising from a meeting of South South Governors Forum which held on Monday in Port Harcourt, Rivers state meeting Monday under the BRACED Commission, the governors noted that since the commission was an initiative to foster integration, socio-economic and infrastructural development of the region, they would be throwing their weight behind VAT collection by states.
The governors who spoke through their chairman, Ifeanyi Okowa, stated that the intention to join the suit had become imperative to ensure the country achieve true fiscal federalism such that would spur ingenious ideas from leaders that would set development roadmaps for every state in their areas of comparative advantage.
Reading a communique issued after the meeting, Okowa, who is also the Delta State Governor, called on the federal government to publish the report of the forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission and urgently appoint a substantive board for the commission.
listing other resolution reached at the meeting, Okowa said, “bearing in mind that most of the BRACED states have established their states’ security organ, we approve a regional security architecture which will be launched very soon.
“We Unequivocally support the decision for states to collect value added tax, and resolved to join the suit before the Supreme court.
“Council urges the President and National Assembly to take necessary measures to review some unfair aspects of recently signed Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) to ensure fairness and equity.
“We urge that the amendments should include a clear definition of Host Communities and that the Trustees should be appointed by State Governments.
“Council calls upon the President and the Federal Government to uphold the law establishing the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by appropriately constituting its board.
“In addition, we express the hope that federal government would make the forensic audit public and deal justly and fairly with the report with a view to strengthening the capacity of NDDC to meet its obligation to people of the region.
“Council regrets that federal government and the President have generally failed to give reasoned consideration for the requests by the region following a dialogue with s special federal delegation led by Prof Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to the President.
“Notable among the requests were relocation of NNPC subsidiaries and IOCs headquarters to the Niger Delta and completion of a number of federal projects the region, notably roads.”