The Oasis Reporters
January 8, 2021
By Sir Don Ubani; KSC, JP
Okwubunka of Asa.
Taxation is a legitimate act of placing financial charges or levies on citizens by a government for the purposes of providing them with Security, Infrastructure, Medical Facilities, Education and other Services the Government may consider essential for the welfare and growth of the citizenry.
Taxation is almost as old as civilization. It dates back to the days of Ancient Egypt and Greece about 3000 to 2800 BC.
Invariably, taxation is a consequential understanding resulting from the Theory of Social Contract as differently but commonly propounded by thinkers such as Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hobbes, Samuel Pufendorf and John Locke.
By the Theory of Social Contract, as then propounded, citizens agreed to surrender some of their individual rights and privileges to government for the latter to provide for them security and some welfare packages for their overall development.
With this enormous expectation by the citizenry, government, being no father Christmas, lives up to them by levying taxes on them. Taxation, the world over, is the major source of government revenue.
In places, such as Britain, the State of California in the United States of America, France and even nearby Ghana, taxes constitute the mainstay of their economy.
In Nigeria, taxation was first introduced by British Colonial Governor-General, Lord Lugard, in 1904 through the Land Revenue proclamation which formalized taxation system in the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria. The proclamation was, thereafter, consolidated via the Native Revenue Proclamation in 1906.
Both during the colonial era and the botched First Republic, the different tiers of government in Nigeria, the Federal Government and the four Regional Governments, did very well in terms of Gross Domestic Product. Their major sources of revenue were Agriculture and Taxation.
Of course, it goes beyond argument that those Governments were accountably responsible in their obligations with regards to the Theory of Social Contract.
Except for the narrow-minded critics or commentators, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu mounted the saddle of Abia State with a firm determination to give a fresh breath of air to the people of the State. No doubt, he was and is still mindful of the implication of the Theory of Social Contract between him and the Abia electorate. Right from his first day in Office as Governor in 2015, he embarked on Infrastructural turn around of the State. So far, in the field of road infrastructure alone, indisputable record has it that his administration has delivered a total of Ninety-Seven Roads. Sixty-Two other roads are at various stages of completion. This record has never been achieved in Abia State by any other Government. The fact certainly speaks for itself.
From all indications, the Governor is determined to making a paradigm shift from the hitherto Infrastructural narrative in the State and, therefore, carve a niche for himself.
As we say in our common parlance, ‘every good soup, na money killam’. For the governor to continue to deliver on his mandate, in consonance with the Theory of Social Contract, there should be enough fund to drive his vision and mission. The outbreak of the dreaded Coronavirus Pandemic has badly affected economic fortunes of almost every country in the world, that is even if there is any country spared. Consequent upon the pandemic, Oil which accounts for more than 70% of Nigeria’s foreign revenue is experiencing a catastrophic summersault. Hence Nigeria has gone into a second recession just within the last six years. The type of Federal Structure we operate in Nigeria has not helped matters. This is expected as Nigeria runs a monocultural economy.
The economic picture in the country is capable of discouraging any weak-minded helmsman. As a genuine leader of his people, Governor Ikpeazu has refused to be overwhelmed by the current economic realities in the country.
Rather, he has been putting on his thinking cap day in, day out.
He knows that the Abia electorate are civilized and knowledgeable enough and appreciate the strategic importance of paying their taxes. They know if they fail to pay their required taxes as and when due, which in the first instance is a serious offence against the laws of the State and is punishable by law, the Government would be incapacitated to provide those essential services as enshrined in the Theory of Social Contract.
A practical illustration here could be found in the infrastructural abandonment and decay of almost all the roads in Aba before the emergence of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. A 3-storey building at Osusu Road sold for less than Ten Million Naira. To begin with, what would a buyer do with a property that is inaccessible? That was the terrible state of infrastructure in the whole of Aba before the coming of Governor Ikpeazu. Hilariously, Governor Ikpeazu has recovered Osusu Road and many other roads in the Great Enyimba City of Aba. Properties in Aba now enjoy value addition and, so, the narrative has changed.
Governor Ikpeazu’s passion for service-delivery through the instrumentality of Internal Revenue Generation is evidentially encouraged by the uncommon professional expertise of his Deputy, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu. A Chartered Accountant of profound standing, the Deputy Governor is the Chairman of the State’s Internal Revenue Council. The Council is made up of gurus in Taxation and Financial Management. The Members are conscious of the fact that at the end of their service, their role will determine where history will place them.
The Council is upbeat that the year 2021 will be marked by remarkable achievements by the Administration of Governor Ikpeazu, whether the glut in the Global Oil Market would continue or not.
Being uncompromisingly resolved to save Taxpayers from the menace of illegal touts who coerce and defraud them of their hard-earned money and, so, create a scenario of Multiple Taxation which the State Government vehemently frowns at, the State Revenue Council, on the directives of the Governor, has introduced Electronic Method of Consolidated Tax Payment in the States.
By this method, all taxes meant to be paid by any person in Abia State should now be paid into designated Banks in the State. The era of Agents of the State Government going to a shop or premises or even a keke Operator to demand for tax or levy only for Agents of a Local Government Council or Agents of a motor Union to go to the same place or person asking for the same payment is gone and gone forever. There is now a well tailored and effectively coordinated partnership amongst all Revenue Agencies in the State. The Ikpeazu Administration has, even as before, stamped his signature not only against Multiple Taxation but also hostility in revenue collection.
Assuredly, the Aba and Umuahia Business Communities are, on their own volition, supportive of this innovative method of Electronic Payment.
Abians, from all walks of life, are expected to key into this innovation to guarantee seamlessness in tax collection and at the time yield maximally in the collective interest of the State. Henceforth, no tax or levy meant for the State Government will be paid by cash. Every payment must be effected through the appropriate banks.
Every machinery of government has already been put in motion for effective revenue generation this 2021. To buttress the State Government’s readiness to achieve its objective, the Deputy Governor has already had the first meeting of the Council as early as the first working day of the year, Monday 4th January, 2021. All hands must be on deck to assist Governor Okezie Ikpeazu achieve his laudable objectives.
Okwubunka of Asa.