2023: Northern Governors Rejects Rotational Presidency, Says Not Constitutional
By Habila Victor, Kaduna
The 19 Governors of the Northern states have unanimously rejected the position of their Southern colleagues that the 2023 presidency should be zoned to the Southern part of the country, describing it as a democratic office and not a rotational position.
This was parts of its resolutions arising from an emergency meeting with Northern traditional rulers at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna, on Monday.
The Northern Governors Forum said the region could not be compelled to give up a democratically elected office that could be sought by any person irrespective of where he or she comes from.
It said though some Northern governors had earlier expressed views for a power-shift to three geo-political zones 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.
Chairman of the Forum and also Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong in statement released shortly after the meeting described the assertion as 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.
Recall the Southern governors had in a meeting in July in Lagos State demanded that power must shift to their region.
Also reacting to the on-going National debate on Value Added Tax, Governor Lalong noted that the collection of VAT, and the surrounding controversies were among the key issues discussed.
He said as responsible leaders the forum is constraint by the fact that the matter is sub judice, but for the purposes of educating the public, the Governors make the following observations:
(a) 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.
(b) Rivers and Lagos State Government had enacted their own VAT laws and the Southern Governors Forum have expressed support for this course of action;
(c) 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.
Lalong also mentioned that “While getting update essentially on the progress made so far from the previous meeting held in February, we shall take stock of how far we have gone in tackling banditry, kidnapping and insurgency, and chart a way forward”.
The governor recalled that in February, the forum considered a wide range of issues concerning the well-being of its people.
Speaking at the forum, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, Chairman of the Northern Council of Traditional Rulers, decried the lack of implementation of policies after resolutions had been reached in various meetings.