The Southern Governors Forum (SGF) emerged from its meeting in Enugu State on Thursday with a commitment to work together to ensure that each state’s Value Added Tax (VAT) is retained.
The Forum also took use of the opportunity to reflect on specific national issues, such as the level of compliance by member states with the anti-open grazing statute.
The meeting expressed pleasure with the amount of compliance and encouraged those who have still to comply to do so as soon as possible, according to a communiqué released by the governors and signed by Governor Olurotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State.
The meeting encouraged “full optimization of the already agreed regional security outfits which would meet, share intelligence and collaborate to ensure the security and safety of the region.”
On the subject of federalism, the Forum “reaffirmed the commitment to fiscal federalism as agreed in Asaba, Delta State on May 11, 2021, and encouraged states to exercise their legislative competence and representation in the National Assembly to ensure that it is included in the Constitution.”
The full text of the seven-point communique reads:
“At its meeting today, Thursday, September 16, 2021, held in Government House, Enugu, Enugu State, the Nigerian Southern Governors’ Forum reviewed the state of the nation and the progress of execution of the decisions taken in previous sessions, and further resolved as follows:
“Expressed pleasure with the rate at which states in Southern Nigeria are enacting or modifying Anti-Open Grazing Laws that are consistent with the common pattern and desire of Southern Governors, and encouraged states that have yet to do so to do so quickly.
“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.
“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.
“Following from paragraph “3” above, the meeting resolved to support the position that the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the States.
“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.
“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.”
Out of the 17 states in southern Nigeria, nine governors and seven deputy governors attended the meeting.
Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, and Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta were among the governors present.
Mr. Bisi Egbeyemi (Ekiti State), Mr. Rauf Olaniyan (Oyo State), Dr. Kelechi Igwe (Ebonyi), Chief Ude Oko-Chukwu (Abia), Mr. Philip Shuaibu (Edo), Professor Ivara Esu (Cross River), and Professor Placid Njoku (Edo) were among the deputy governors in attendance (Imo).
Anambra was not represented at the meeting.