Nigerians await pronouncements from the South

Enugu, capital of the Old Eastern Region is getting ready to play host to a meeting of Southern Governors.

Already, most governors from the Southern states billed for the meeting have arrived the Coal City as Enugu which doubles as the State capital of Enugu State is fondly known.

Among Governors who are in Enugu for the meeting are Ifeanyichukwu Okowa of Delta State who heads the South South Governors Forum of the PDP, Babajide Sanwo – Olu of Lagos And Governor Rotimi Akerelodu of Ondo.

The Governor of Enugu State,  Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi welcoming Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State. 

Others are Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State.

It would be the third meeting in a row, but it is growing evidence of the fact that the South controlled by two major political parties, the APC and the PDP, is increasingly bonding together.

Coming against the backdrop of economic concerns raised over VAT and stamp duties which have led to squabbles in court, the meeting is expected to consider matters of common interests to the people of the geographic area which was Southern Nigeria before the amalgamation of the country.

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Said a former a Senator from the South South who spoke to the Port Harcourt Telegraph in Abuja,  “Southern Nigeria has the capacity to develop rapidly if it gets its options right.

“I support the VAT battle that is being championed by Rivers and other Southern states.”

The meeting of the Southern Governors which is being led by Governor Akerelodu (APC South West) is expected to review some of the progress recorded since the last meeting, especially in dealing with open air grazing, insecurity and other national issues.

The governments of Lagos and Rivers States are apparently in the forefront in the implementation of the South’s opposition to open air grazing and other matters.

Similarly, Lagos is giving Rivers support over the fight to redefine the mode of VAT collection in the country, with the Rivers State Government already at the Supreme Court to preserve a victory that it earned at a Federal High Court recently.

A Court of Appeal had ordered a stay, urging all the parties to maintain status quo, pending the determination of an appeal on notice.

There is however some hesitation in some Southern circles in the wake of steps taken to pursue certain interests that are considered dramatic and radical.

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State who was speaking at a forum which attracted members of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN said there is a strong need for states that are strong to provide succour to others that are weak.

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It was perhaps a clear reference to states like Rivers and Lagos which have passed laws on VAT collection; states from the run of events which generate the most when it comes to VAT proceeds in comparison to other states in the country.

The decision of the Kano State Government to destroy over 5000 cartons of beer through its Hisbah Board has further raised controversy over its willingness to accept funds generated through the sale of alcohol in other parts of the country.

Two Southern Governors attending the meeting pose for a photograph. 

The implication is that religious considerations have become part of the concerns that are being raised over revenue generation and revenue distribution.

Meanwhile, attention is turning to Enugu, the Enugu State capital where Southern Governors will be holding a meeting behind closed doors.

The Telegraph which thinks that the stage is being set for robust conversations over fiscal federalism, restructuring of the nation’s administrative setting, and the devolution of powers among others things would be watching the scene.

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