South-south Governors Forum, yesterday, declared support for states’ collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) as ordered by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt. The forum, comprising governors of the six oil-rich Niger Delta states of Rivers, Edo, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, and Delta, made the declaration after a closed-door meeting at Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governors’ decision to join the suit currently before the Supreme Court was contained in a communiqué presented to newsmen by Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
The forum urged that in constituting the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the federal government should follow the law establishing the commission. They demanded that the NDDC forensic audit report should be made public.
The governors regretted the federal government’s failure to honour an understanding regarding the relocation of the headquarters of subsidiaries of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the international oil companies (IOCs) to the Niger Delta. They called for the completion of federal projects in the region.
The governors said they had established a regional security outfit that would be launched soon, adding that the National Assembly, in amending the Petroleum Industrial Act, should seriously consider the interest of the communities hosting the oil and gas activities.
In a related development, governors and leaders of the five South-east states scheduled an emergency meeting today to address rising insecurity in the zone. That was as former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, decried the level of insecurity in the zone, describing the situation as disheartening.
But former National Publicity Secretary of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party
(PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, said the South-east leaders should demand at their meeting the release of detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, saying this is a sure step towards tackling the security challenges in the zone.
The situation in the zone remained tense yesterday, as gunmen enforcing a weekly stay-at-home order set ablaze a tricycle in Enugu State for disobeying the order.
South-south Governors’ Forum met at the conference room of Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, and the meeting was chaired by Okowa, with the governors of Rivers, Bayelsa, Edo, Bayelsa, and Akwa Ibom in attendance. The governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, who recently defected from PDP to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), was absent at the gathering.