By Egufe Yafugborhi
South South Governors Forum following a crucial Port Harcourt, Rivers state meeting Monday under the BRACED Commission have declared to join the Supreme Court suit by the Rivers State Government demanding that states and not the Federal Government, should collect Value Added Tax (TAX).
All the BRACED Governor except Cross Rivers state’s Prof Ben Ayade were present at the meeting presided over by the forum’s Chairman, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa with Chief Nyesom Wike as host and the Director-General, BRACED Commission, Joe Keshi, also present.
The BRACED commission comprising the six South-South states of Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta, is an initiative to foster integration, socio-economic and infrastructural development of the region.
In a communique read by Okowa, the region’s governors among other pressing issues also said they would soon unveil a joint security outfit while calling on 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.
Okowa read that, “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.”
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