Understanding Edo New Tax Regime
By Erasmus Ikhide
March 31st, 2009
Taxation in other
lands and climes is the most potent source of fiscal
revenue, key economic player of micro-economic regulation
and social development in the larger interest of the
governed. As much as taxation is the obligation of the
citizens, it is the duty of government to guaranty
affordable amenities for her citizens. A nation or state
that depend on free Dollars rains, effortlessly from the
bowel of the earth; use same to create few cabalistic rich
men and women, then has its mass of people living on the
edge and in squalor like ours, without historical
inclination to tax payment and tariff collection would
hardly survived this moment of self-reappraisal.
The new tax regime in Edo State that is obviously meant to
cushion the effect of the depleting revenue accruing to the
state from the Federation Account as a result of global
economic crunch that caught our all flat-footed. It should
not be misconstrued or viewed from a hostile standpoint.
Other states of the Federation have also concluded other
means; including aggressive taxation to stave off the
debilitating economic meltdown in order to keep the
instruments of state and governance running.
There is no begging the question that extensive overhauls of
our tax regulations to increase the revenue base of the
state will augment for the short falls from the Federal
Allocation to the state. Failure is not an option in this
administration, and Oshiomhole administration would have no
explanation to give as to why he failed the mass of people
who reposed absolute confident in his government to savage
the ruins that is the lots of Edo State for years on end.
Without taxation Edo State can just fail and, if it does, we
have all failed as a people since the government we voted
into office and so tenaciously defended will be unable to
deliver the goods as a result of our reluctance or failure
to pay our taxes and levies. We will also run the risk of
breeding traditionally poor people. For instance, a child
who ought to be an engineer will turn out to become an
artisan and the vicious circle of poverty will continue as
one artisan begot another.
Oshiomhole is out to tear the mask of ideological poverty
from the people who have been regrettably immersed in the
cesspit of poverty of the stomach. His agenda for growing
the state is explicit – develop the mind and intellect of
everyone in the state through affordable and qualitative
education and healthcare system in order to achieve
irreducible standard of living for the downtrodden.
If we continue to privatise education, only the children of
the rich will have access to quality education. So this
administration has to make deliberate efforts to switch the
balance in favour of public schools by getting revenue to
build our schools so that the children of the poor and the
middle class can have good schools to attend. The same is
applicable to healthcare system. We are also at the mercy of
private healthcare practitioners who have refused to pay
appropriate tax, yet have been ripping off the people since
public health sector is in shambles.
The reasons we pay taxes is to enable the government to
provide basic infrastructures to the governed; like the
maintenance of parks and schools, equip the police to fight
crime effectively and other social services. But more than
anything else is the sense of belonging arising from the
payment of taxes to run a government you help to put in
place. It arouses in the consciousness of the electorate to
hold leaders accountable, and by the same token quickens the
moral rectitude of the people at the helms of affair to
As much as the levies and taxes and tariffs are paid by
those who are capable, and according to the income of the
payers the government of Adams Oshiomhole will appropriates
the hard earned resources to better the plight of the
people. What is more, the people who nitpicked previous
administrations to a stand still, stuck their neck stoically
in defence of their votes would have no trouble ensuring
that their government succeeds.
The moral minefield on which Oshiomhole’s mandate derives
its anchorage makes payment of taxes, tariffs and levies
tenable to all well meaning Edolites who have aspired for a
change that they can phantom. But if we continue to cheer
from the sidelines for a government we popularly elected and
now ‘opt out’, disengage when it matters most to support the
same government in sheer contrivance with those who never
wished Edo people well to invade taxes, the chances are that
we may yet return to pre-April 21, 2007 where we dusted our
foot, and say never again!
Those criticizing the new tax regime of Oshiomhole’s
administration; fanning the embers of infamy and causing
disaffections are indeed the enemy of the people. And I
should say straight up, that no one should act in a way that
threatens the corporate interests of the larger populace
whose resolve have brought us from the tragic pass of the
state where taxes and tariffs are paid to thugs and
godfathers, while the state looks helplessly away.
This was so because the previous occupiers of the seat of
government, Osadebe Avenue usually owned their mandate
exclusively to these retrogressive clowns who are still
striving to cause disharmony in Oshiomhole-led
administration, to score cheap political points by painting
a glooming future for the electorate so as to lure them back
to the infamous era where might was power and power was an
end in itself.
There is nothing much Oshiomhole can achieve if we shy away
from our social responsibility and expect the government to
conjure up imaginary funds from heaven-knows-where and fix
the roads, build schools, hospitals, drainages, beautify the
walk ways, provide public transportation, rural
electrification, portable water and what have you, to the
expectant society. Oshiomhole will micro-manages prudently
whatever comes into the state coffer, block the linkages –
that had been done already – with which the funds had
usually took flights and ensure that the people get value
for their money.
Unfortunately, there is no system of government today that
does accommodate tax invaders and therefore we can’t afford
to strike at the rock like the ‘free riders’ with
retrogressive slogans, ‘‘Taxes are too high!’’ ‘‘Tax the
rich only!’’ ‘‘Stop tax cheat!’’ ‘‘Avoid, don’t evade!’’.
Truth be told: this mantra, ‘‘tax avoidance GOOD … tax
evasion BAD’’ is one of the probable ills that has dragged
this nation and Edo State into the dick.
Berlin Walls fell recently when Adams Oshiomhole-led
government went into the books of taxable companies and
found that virtually all Federal and state owned
institutions and individuals have internally renegotiated
their taxable incomes from 10% to 5%! You can now imagine
how much of the state funds had drained through the basket
if the state’s monthly Internally Generated Revenue, IGR had
been stranded around N 400 million.
Those in the attitude of tax invasion, especially in this
part of the world have always reasoned that they could only
pay tax after the state has provided all their needs, as if
the state were some deity. It is also far from the truth
that the state would provide all our needs if we were to pay
our taxes to date, as it were. But the critical balance
remains that we run foil of the most basic ethics of
civility in an organized society – not a classless society –
that harnesses resources for public goods.
As has been said elsewhere, we are not unmindful of the fact
that immediate evidence of performance is the best way to
repay and retain the steadfast support of the good people of
Edo State , notwithstanding the fact that we are being
sandwiched between two hostile bodies – House of Assembly
and the 18 Local Councils.
Now, the waffles of unpaved roads stir you in the face. How
about that? As you pay your tax and levy, you are partaking
in the triumphant wind of progressive change blowing across
the state; the cock pit of Nigerian politics. On our part,
we have broken the fallow ground, slice the bush and set the
trash ablaze; we will hire the rain makers if need be now
that the rain has refused to come.
Erasmus Ikhide is a
Special Assistant to Edo
State Governor, Comrade
Adams Aliu Oshiomhole.
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