Rivers meeting: S/South Governors seek relocation of IOCs, NNPC

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…seek amendment to PIA

… Charge Buhari to appoint a substantive NDDC board

… Back States’ collection of VAT

By Uthman Salami

The South-South Governors have clamoured for the relocation of International Oil Companies (IOCs) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Headquarters to states in the Niger Delta region during a meeting of the forum at the Government House, Rivers State.

According to them, the request has since been made during a dialogue between stakeholders in the geopolitical zone and a Federal Government delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.

The governors also appealed to the National Assembly to immediately review and amend sections of the recently enacted Petroleum Industrial Act.

They explained that the amendment was necessary to give a clear definition of a host community and transfer the power to appoint the trustees to state governments.

They also added that states in the region would join the suit filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) challenging the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) by states.

The forums further revealed that it has granted approval for a  joint regional security outfit which would commence very soon.

The Chairman of the Forum who is also the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa said these were part of the decision reached at the end of their meeting held at Government House, Port Harcourt.

Okowa who read the Forum’s communique, said members states have unanimously agreed on the state collection of Valued Added Tax (VAT) and agreed to join the suit at the Supreme Court.

Governor Okowa, who presided over the meeting, charged both the President and National Assembly to review some unfair aspects of the recently signed Petroleum Industry Bill, which has become an Act.

The forum also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to respect the law establishing the Nigeria Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by appointing a substantive board.

They demanded that the report of the forensic audit of the agency recently submitted to the President be made public.

Although Rivers State — in the region — was initially the only respondent to the suit pending before the Court of Appeal, authorities in Lagos and Oyo states have already filed their respective applications for joinder in the appellate court.

The forum deliberated extensively on regional and national issues and resolved to approve the establishment of a regional security outfit to be launched “very soon.”

The statement partly read, “Bearing in mind that most of the BRACED states have established their state security’s organs, we approved the regional security architecture, which will be launched very soon.

“Unequivocally support the decisions of states to collect Valued Added Tax and resolved to join the suit at the Supreme Court.

“Council urged the President and the National Assembly to take some measures to review some unfair aspects of the recently signed Petroleum Industry Bill now Act, to ensure fairness and equity. It urged that the amendment should include the clear definition of host communities and that the trustees should be appointed by state governments.”