GOVERNORS of the South-South states, on Monday, declared their support for the ongoing agitation by some states, led by Rivers State, for states to be collecting the 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods in the country. At the meeting held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, 18 months after the last one held in Asaba, Delta State, the governors also approved the establishment of a regional security outfit to handle insecurity in the geopolitical zone. 

Cross River State governor, Professor Ben Ayade, was, however, absent at the meeting. Briefing journalists after the meeting, chairman of the forum and governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, said, “After an extensive deliberation, the council resolved that bearing in mind that most of the BRACED states have established their security organs, we approved the regional security architecture which will be launched soon.” 

The communiqué added that the governors resolved “to equivocally support the decision of states to collect the VAT by states. We resolved to join the suit at the Supreme Court.

“Council urged the president and the National Assembly to take necessary measures to revisit some unfair aspects of the recently signed Petroleum Industry Bill, now Act, to ensure fairness and equity. 

“We urge that the amendment should include a clear definition of host communities and that the trustees should be appointed by the state government. 

“Council called on 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 the Federal Government will make the forensic audit report public and do justly and fairly with the report with a view to strengthening the capacity of NDDC to meet its obligations to the people of its region. 

“Council regretted that the president and the Federal Government entirely failed to give reasonable consideration to requests made by the region during the dialogue with the special delegation led by Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff to the President. 

“Notable among the requests was the relocation of NNPC subsidiaries and international oil companies (IOCs) headquarters to Niger Delta and the completion of a number of projects in the region, notably roads.” 

He expressed the appreciation of the council to the chairman and commended the host governor for his hospitality and the success of the meeting. He also commended the Director-General of the BRACED Commission for his commitment to the region’s aspirations and for the work of the commission.

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