Ortom absent as northern govs, monarchs meet in Kaduna over VAT, others

Samuel Ortom

Governors from the northern part of the country on Monday gathered in Kaduna for an emergency meeting which is expected to focus on the value added tax (VAT), ban on open grazing in the south, insecurity in the north among other topical issues.

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, who had in the past clashed with Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed, was noticeably absent. His deputy was, however, present at the meeting.

Kwara, Kano, Kogi as well as the secretary to the governments of the 19 northern states were also present.

Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum who is also governor of Plateau State Simon Lalong said he believed the meeting will afford them the opportunity to look into the issues closely.

The governors held a closed-door meeting before an expanded one which included traditional rulers.

Chairman, Northern Traditional Council and Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar lll led the region’s monarchs to the meeting.

“Today’s meeting is essentially to get an update on the progress made so far on some of those items particularly on addressing insecurity which is still a major concern in the region. We shall therefore take stock of how far we have gone in tackling banditry, kidnapping and insurgency and also chart the way forward,” Mr Lalong said.

“In addition, we shall also take a critical look at some new national issues that have emerged over the recent months and weeks with a view to coming up with a position of the region as well as adopting the best possible approach to ensuring that the interest of the region is protected and promoted. Key among them is the issue of value added tax collection and the surrounding controversy.”

He added that he looked forward to contributions from all members that would help them arrive at very meaningful conclusions.

Governors in attendance at the meeting were Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna); Lalong (Plateau); Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); Aminu Masari (Katsina); Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi); Muhammadu Yahaya (Gombe); Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa); Babagana Zulum (Borno) and Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa).