The Northern Elders Forum, (NEF), says the north is a rich region and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern States.
NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known when he featured on a television programme yesterday.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax.
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered. It is charged at a rate of 7.5%.
Although Rivers and Lagos States have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal in a ruling on September 10 stopped the collection pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS), against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
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 northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the States”.
Speaking yesterday during a television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works”.
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the north is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there and we need to go back to farming.