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    Northern Govs, monarchs meet in Kaduna on VAT, open grazing ban

    Governors of the 19 Northern States and traditional rulers from the region have converged in Kaduna for an emergency meeting.

    The meeting, which has gone into closed-door door session, is expected to discuss and take position on the Value Added Tax (VAT) controversy, ban on Open Grazing by Southern Governors and the security challenges bedeviling the region.

    The Governors, on arrival at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, in state capital, went straight into a closed-door meeting before the expanded one, which included the traditional rulers

    Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Chairman Northern Governors Forum and Plateau Governor, Simon Lalong, who chaired the meeting, said the Forum takes critical look at burning national issues which included the Value Added Tax and others and take decisions that would affect the region positively.

    According to him: “My dear colleagues, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to welcome you once again to Kaduna, the headquarters of our region as we deliberate on issues relating to the peace, progress and development of our people and the nation at large. I believe that this meeting will afford us the opportunity to look into various issues closely.

    “I welcome most especially His Eminence Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, Chairman of the Northern Council of Traditional Rulers, and other Royal Fathers for sparing time to attend this very important emergency 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.

    “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.

    “As usual, I look forward to robust contributions from all members that will lead us to arrive at very meaningful conclusions that will impact positively on the fortunes of our people. Once again I welcome you to this meeting and look forward to successful deliberations,” he said.

    The host, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, lamented that the region was grappling with serious challenges such as economic, insecurity and that of federalism which needed urgent attention and solutions.

    The Chairman, Northern Traditional Council and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar lll, who led the region’s monarchs to the meeting, noted that Nigerians are expecting a lot from the meeting of the regional governors, urging the Forum to reflect on the last meeting and how far its resolution had been implemented.

    Sultan commended some of the Governors in the region that had done well in tackling insecurity, noting that the monarchs were ever ready to partner with the governors to move the region forward in areas of tackling poverty and illiteracy.

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

    Also present were Deputy Governors of Kwara, Kano, Benue, Kogi as well as the Secretary to the governments of the 19 Northern States.

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