The Governors from the Northern part of the country under the aegis of the Northern Governors’ Forum will be having an emergency meeting on Monday September 27, to discuss issues relating to the Value Added Tax (VAT) which has pitted the Federal Government against some state governments.
This is coming a few days after the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) described the raging VAT controversy as a wakeup call for the northern governors to develop their resources and depend less on allocation from VAT.
According to Punch, the planned meeting, which would be hosted by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, would be presided over by the Chairman of the forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong.
The expected meeting was confirmed on Sunday by the Coordinator of the Northern Governors Forum Secretariat and Secretary to the Plateau State Government, Professor Danladi Atu, who said that the forum would take a position on VAT at Monday’s meeting.
He stated. “The northern governors will be meeting in Kaduna on Monday and I’m sure one of the items on the agenda is about the issue of VAT.”
On whether the northern governors would be going to court to join the FIRS in the suit against Rivers and Lagos states over the VAT collection, the forum’s coordinator said, “You will get to know the position of the northern governors on the issue because I’m sure their resolution will be made public after their meeting on Monday.“
It can be recalled that on August 9, Justice Stephen Pam of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt granted the Rivers State government the right to collect VAT, instead of the FIRS, paving the way for state governments to initiate the process to start VAT collection.
Governors Nyesom Wike and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, subsequently assented to the VAT Law, 2021 after they were passed by their various state houses of assembly.
But the FIRS, which was displeased with the development, later approached the Court of Appeal in Abuja with a civil motion seeking a stay of the execution of the judgement granted by the court in Rivers, pending the determination of the case after a similar request was denied by Justice Pam of the Federal High Court Port Harcourt.
A three-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Haruna Tsammani then directed all parties to maintain the status quo and refrain from taking action that would give effect to the judgement delivered by Justice Pam, pending the hearing and determination of the instant suit.
In its reaction, the Rivers State government filed an appeal at the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the appellate court.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
While some stakeholders including the 17 southern governors supported the position of Lagos and Rivers states that states should collect VAT, some northern governors, including El-Rufai opposed it.