Power must shift to South in 2023, says Akeredolu

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Ondo state governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, on Sunday maintained that the next President of the country should come from the region.

Akeredolu who stated this while featuring on a programme on Arise TV said the forum hinged its decision not to resist any political party that look northward for its Presidential candidate in the 2023 presidential elections on equity and fairness.

He said the Southern governors had unanimously agreed that the presidency of Nigeria be rotated between southern and northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the south.

He said the southern governors’ Forum’s stance for a Southerner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, ” is for equity and justice; our focus is not to field a Presidential candidate”

Speaking on the anti-open grazing law, Akeredolu said the law was not targeted at any group but to protect the lives of the people of the country.

He said though some people are not pleased with the law but said that the law was put in place to protect lives and ensure that farmers are saved from losing their farm crops as a result of the outdated open grazing practice.

He said “the anti-open grazing law was not targeted at anyone. Is the position of the Katsina Governor, who is also a Fulani by tribe also targeted at his own people? Why are people not talking about that? Those who can’t live peacefully amongst our people must get out”

Akeredolu expressed support for the collection of Value-Added Tax (VAT) by the state governments, noting that the issue of collection of VAT by state governments has been settled against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)

He said the amendments sought by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) at the National Assembly on the controversial Value Added Tax will be killed at the State House of Assemblies, saying the law does not give power to the federal government to collect VAT and share to the states, adding that the VAT should be under the state.

“That’s the position of the law. The FIRS seeking for amendment is a confirmation that they don’t have the power. The amendment will be dead on arrival. Why seek an amendment to a constitution when the provision is so clear.” Akeredolu explained.

The Governor insisted that if the federal government was to collect VAT for states, it can only get a percentage that the federal government can decide to share at the FAAC.

“You can only collect VAT on behalf of the states and hand their money over to them. You can only take percentage there for helping us to collect the money

“The move by the FIRS to go to the NASS means we’re on course and that something was wrong from the beginning. It’s constitutional amendment they are pursuing and I can bet you, it’s dead on arrival because more states will support us to kill such amendment in the state Assemblies” he said

Governor Akeredolu said the Southern Governors’ Forum aligned and agreed with the position and steps taken by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to pursue the amendment to the Petroleum Industry Bill so as to reflect equity, justice and fairness.

On the continued stay in office of Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe state, he said “The verdict of four to three meant I escaped by the whiskers. From the onset, I told the party the case was a long dagger drawn in the heart of the APC.

“On Buni, I have said it privately and I’m not inclined to continue to make it a media issue but I must say this, I have very strong reservations about the legality or otherwise of his position. I can say this because I bore the brunt, I was at the centre of it all.

Speaking on his visit to Asiwaju Tinubu and the 2023 election, Akeredolu said his visit to the former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has nothing to do with the 2023 election.

He said he was in London to see Tinubu and he was sure that the rumours flying around on social media was untrue.

Governor Akeredolu who described the former Lagos State Governor as the ‘capon’ in the south, said he is expected to return to the country soon, so as to meet with him and be able to take certain critical decisions.

Asked if he will support Tinubu as the Presidential candidate of the party in 2023, Governor Akeredolu said: “APC is a party. APC will decide who the candidate will be. I have said it several times. I’m going nowhere. If I leave APC, I am going back to my chamber. For me, whatever APC decides, I will follow.

“We went to London because It was important for us to go and see for ourselves. How he’s doing. He’s the capon for us here. But the time he comes, we can make some serious decisions.”

Asked whether he has not breached the constitution with the appointment of four commissioners and few Special Advisers since inaugurated for his second term in office in February, Akeredolu said the decision on the number of Commissioners to be appointed lies with him.

He said: “There is no provision that says what amount to full compliment of the cabinet only the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice is stated there.

“The number of who will work with me will be decided by me. Come early next month we will have more commissioners. I’m to determine the number of Commissioner that I will want to work with. Governor Agagu worked with less than 11 Commissioners. I’m not saying it is ideal.

“I will have to put in more people come next month. But it can’t be as many as it was in the first term because the finances of the state is badly affected.”

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