We have had many of our public officers especially the Governors discuss their internally generated revenue. It usually blows my mind when states posts IGR in billions, because this is bar the monthly windfall from the Federal account. Add derivation fund, Ecology fund and may be Education fund to that and you will begin to see what I am about tonight. And don’t forget the foreign loans that every new State Governor and President insists we need.
Taxes may be as old as man. The idea I’m sure was to leverage on a pool of fund by the people, for providing social amenities for them. That presupposes a stringent accountability on anybody ‘unfortunate’ enough to be in charge of such funds. Every member of the society old enough to contribute into such fund therefore, is a stakeholder, and exercises a right, albeit in varying degrees, to the fund. He has a say as to how it is ran so to speak.
When I was a kid, ‘tax’ and ‘water rate’ was a thing that was dreaded by the able bodied. The collectors were deliberately recruited for their prowess in running. This is because the mostly illiterate masses would always run on sighting them. And thus a melee of some sort will be elicited when the encounter ensues. Onitsha was notorious at the time for their tax collectors. I can’t say much about other cities then. It didn’t matter if you had paid your in your state of resident. And God help you if you forgot your ‘tax’ papers or you show any form of resistance or even go as far as inflicting bodily harm to the ‘collectors’.
Water rate I assumed (and still assume) was for those who use pipe borne water. But it mattered less to these ‘government’ tax collectors that you were coming from a village where many do not even understand the scientific concept of pipe borne water. How can water sprout out of someone’s house? It must be magic. But they were made to pay for what they didn’t use then (and probably still don’t use).
In comes the modern day. Various taxes exist in Nigeria now. ‘premises’ is for those who sell beer and soft drinks etc in any small stall. It matters not that your entire ware is less than the tax amount itself. If you don’t like it go to the village. And become what exactly?
‘Land’ tax for almost anything, depending on the city you are. Selling a few tubers of yam on the floor of a Market in your country of origin could earn you this one.
‘Market masters’ review. I just can’t explain this one but it exists.
‘National union’. Ask any commercial driver. You will have an ear full.
‘Advertising’ for those who carry stickers or their company logo on the body of their cars. It doesn’t matter that you have a subsisting licence from your state of residence. Lokoja is said to be notorious in this one.
‘Car Radio’. Believe me, this one exists. I also find it difficult to explain this one to you, but if you so desire an explanation, Lokoja may be a good spot to get one.
‘VAT’ came in under IBB with a bit of an uproar. It has found stay. Many supermarkets use this for their upkeep. Some had argued about its sharing formula, especially when VAT money from the sales of beer is shared to Sharia compliant states.
Every Government employee is taxed. The breakdown of this tax is hardly provided to you as it is deducted from source. Some private organizations use this to rip off their employees, with the claim of remittance to FIRS (another fat agency that has demanded my attention).
I have carefully skimmed off the tax concerns of multi nationals and some capitalist organizations that in my opinion are not being taxed enough. Even if the extent of their being taxed may reflect on the price of their services, which eventually reverts to us paying to the Government indirectly. Organizations like Shell,MTN,DSTV are not being taxed enough. I’m not an economist but it would be nice to know if there is a law that empowers Government to tax these corporations and at the same time allows it to regulate/negotiate the price of their services.
Now to what inspired this write up. ‘Task forces’!
Lagos will have to be the trail blazer on this one, but Abuja is fast catching up if it hasn’t already.
Their is a task force on ‘Ashewos’, hawkers (of any hue), car washing boys, illegal stalls in markets, the defunct ‘park and pay’, drinking in joints in the mornings, and all manner of genuine human endeavor.
The only one I have failed to see a task force on in Abuja is hawkers of petrol products during scarcities. How that happens still beats me.
While these ‘Task forces’ provides some form of employment for the boys, it also rips off the society in so many ways. Besides the loss of the convenience these people provide, there is what appears to be a deliberate attempt to push them back to unemployment. One that they initiated for themselves- self employment. This has a lot of well known attendant effects on the larger society.
But ultimate effect which reveals questions, is how this funds generated from all these inconveniences, these outright rape of the masses (whom you hold the seat and the associated funds in escrow for in the first place) is spent? Who orders for these task forces? Are all of them covered by law? Are these laws really Germaine? Are they humane? Are those funds remitted to the FGN? Or if the case of states, are they used for providing the much needed amenities?
I see all these as the LIES we continue to tell ourselves. Those lies that if they don’t stop, we will still continue to revolve around this spot we still find ourselves 54 years post independence.
THE LIES MUST HAVE TO STOP!!!