Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade was again conspicuously missing at the meeting of the South-South Governor’s Forum where all the other five state Chief Executives decided to establish a regional security outfit to handle the issues of degenerating security in the geo-political zone.

At the meeting which was held 18 months after the last one at Asaba, Delta State the governors of the region also declared that they were in support of the ongoing agitation from some state governments led by Rivers State for states to be in charge of collecting the 7.5% Value Added Tax VAT being charged on some goods in the country.

The Cross River State Governor who has come to be seen as the black sheep among the South-South Governors was originally elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but later defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, a move which was not surprising to the other Governors.

Briefing journalists in Port Harcourt, after the meeting Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa said; “After an extensive deliberation, the Council resolved that bearing in mind that most of the BRACED states have established their security organs, we approved the regional security architecture which will be launched soon.”

The Communique’ added that the Governors resolved; “To equivocally support the decision of states to collect the Value Added Tax by states, we resolved to join the suit at the Supreme Court.”

“Council urged the President and the National Assembly to take necessary measures to revisit some unfair aspects of the recently signed Petroleum Industry Bill now Act, to ensure fairness and equity.

“We urge that the amendment should include a clear definition of host communities and that the trustees should be appointed by the state government.

“Council called on the President and the federal government to uphold the law establishing the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by appropriately constituting its board.

In addition, we express the hope that the federal government will make the forensic audit report public and do justly and fairly with the report with a view to strengthening the capacity of NDDC to meet its obligations to the people of the region.

“Council regretted that the President and the federal government entirely failed to give reasonable consideration to requests made by the region during the dialogue with the special delegation led by Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff to the President. Notable among the requests was the relocation of NNPC subsidiaries and IOCs headquarters to Niger Delta and the completion of a number of projects in the region, notably roads”, Okowa added.

He expressed the appreciation of the Council to the Chairman and commended the host governor for his warm hospitality and the success of the meeting and commended the Director-General of the Commission for his commitment to the region’s aspirations and for the work of the Commission.

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