OPINION: “Why I pay taxes”,By Salisu Na’inna Dambatta
“As a villager, I loathed paying taxes, or what they called revenue, in our weekly open air market,” said Maitabo, the livestock trader who is now an industrialist in the big city where he established factories that turned out a basket of consumer goods, including polished rice.
He said he spent the first 40 years of his life in his native village without electricity. There was no smooth, all-season motorable road to his village either. The only school in the district was in Alkarya, the district headquarters of his Karkara collection of hamlets, tiny villages, and homesteads.
Maitabo said he previously viewed paying the community tax and cattle tax to the local leaders as an unnecessary dishing money out to big men who dress nicely, ride bicycles, even motor cycles and build cemented houses with roofs made of shiny corrugated iron sheets.
However, as his livestock trade expanded and the necessity for Maitabo to hire articulated trailers to convey his wares from the big livestock markets where he buys them in hundreds to far-flung consumption centres of Kano, Ibadan, Warri, Abuja, Benin, Uyo, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt and Okigwe near Umuahia, he appreciated that the wide, smooth and tarred highways plied by the trailers were important facilitators for his flourishing lucrative trade.
He also realised that the trailers conveying his livestock travel through thick forests where security personnel were stationed to protect travellers from marauders. The trailers were driven on bridges built by the government to cross both big rivers and streams: the days of using risky ferries to cross the rivers were over.
As an industrialist who graduated from livestock trade and living in a rural Nigeria 50 years ago, he is now face to face with the importance and benefits of paying taxes. And he no longer loathes paying taxes as he did previously. He nowadays encourages other business owners and everyone who will listen to him to pay taxes as and when due.
His favourite justification for his willingness to pay taxes was the improvement he noticed to the wellbeing of people in his village during a visit. The authorities have provided a laterite road linking his village to other towns; a windmill that draws potable water from a deep well for his community; a dispensary that meets the health care needs of a cluster of villages including his home village, and the most wonderful of all, the electricity that was wired to the village by the Rural Electrification Authority.
Maitabo will tell his listeners that it was long after he enjoyed various government services that it dawned on him that the livestock tax he paid and the flat tax paid by all male adults in his village, contributed to the pool of money spent in providing those services in his and other neighbouring villages.
Now as a dweller in a city, the owner of manufacturing plants and a fleet of trailers that bring raw materials to his factories and evacuate manufactured goods from there, he realises that the constant electricity supplied to his factories and the smooth roads used by his articulated trucks were emplaced by government using the very taxes he previously loathed to pay.
He now discourages tax evasion; shun false tax entries and avoids quarrels with tax officials. Maitabo believes as the World Bank does in a Subnational Studies on ease of doing business that, taxpayers and businesses are interested in what they get for their taxes: quality infrastructure including good roads, reliable railway network, functional aviation facilities, efficient sea ports, continuous supply of electricity and telecommunication connectivity, which are all vital for the sound functioning of an economy.
A healthy workforce enhances economic competitiveness and productivity.
This makes governments invests in the provision of health services. Government also spends on imparting relevant skills to improve the efficiency of workers. It provides tertiary education facilities such as the 37 Federal Polytechnics, 43 Federal Universities and 27 Federal Colleges of Education where top-level human capital is nurtured to support the economy through technical innovations.
Maitabo often explains to his listeners that although the government in Nigeria charges excise, import and export duties and collects petroleum profit tax to raise revenue to finance the operations of the security forces namely the Nigeria Police Force, the Department of State Services, the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Civil Defense, he noted that the bread and tea millions of Nigerians buy daily, complete with fried eggs and the meals they enjoy in countless eateries and open air restaurants, including the peppersoup, are not taxed by the government.
Maitabo is always at his best telling people who listen to him why he pays taxes. He points out that revenues from taxes are used to compensate public servants who provide essential services as ambulance drivers, fire fighters, nurses in healthcare centres and air traffic controllers who contribute to safe aviation in the country.
He narrates correctly that Nigerians who travel anywhere by road, sea and air, inevitably drive on government-provided roads, use safe sea lanes cleared by the country’s maritime authority and fly out or land at beautiful airports built by government–using money from taxes.
Maitabo admits that he benefits immensely from the services provided by the government which it pays for with money generated through taxation, and wished that those services continue to improve sustainably, often saying, “That is why I pay taxes.”
“Nigeria College of Taxation and Fiscal Studies” Bill Passes Second Reading
A bill for an Act to establish the Nigeria College of Taxation and Fiscal Studies passed its Second Reading last week at the Senate.
The presentation of the Bill was made by Senator Abdullahi Aliyu Sabi CON on the floor of the Senate Tuesday last week, where he noted that the institution, if established would provide professional and academic training as well as certification for tax administrators, tax practitioners and tax professionals across the country.
In his presentation, Senator Sabi, who represents Niger North Senatorial District of Niger State stated that the College had become necessary given the important role that taxation is playing in the nation’s economy, and that this institution would help formulate and draft tax policy for the country while addressing human capital gaps in the country’s tax industry.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that diversifying the sources of government revenue to focus on sustainable sources is inevitable. This diversification puts taxation at the centre of the revenue mobilization discussion; the attainment of this laudable objective would require tax experts who have been properly and adequately schooled to formulate tax policy, draft and interpret tax legislation, carry on private tax practice, and administer taxation in the modern era.
“In view of the constant shift in the social, technological and business environment, with direct impact on the tax system, it is is important to have skills, competence, and adaptable personnel to man the tax system. There must be a conscious development of the field of taxation and fiscal policies in Nigeria to awake the society on the importance of taxation as a sine qua non to our development.
“Nigeria must go beyond the mere inclusion of taxation in the curriculum of educational institutions; instead the country must establish a modern system that facilitates the study of taxation via a well laid out academic curriculum, guided and focused by practical realities of Nigerian taxation and the revenue ecosystem,” he noted.
Senator Sabi further emphasised that the College would help in tackling the issue of lack of sufficient capacity of tax officers, which he noted has led to “the delegation of powers of revenue authorities to third parties, creating complications, multiplicity and uncertainty in the tax system,” and that it would correct “aggressive and orthodox methods for tax collection” while also carrying out a “regular review of obsolete tax laws that do not reflect modern realities.”
He noted that all these would help the country address its fiscal and revenue challenges and achieve the objectives of the National Tax Policy.
In his presentation, the distinguished Senator representing Niger North also cited that countries such as Kenya, Japan, India, Australia, Austria, Singapore, and Malaysia have established similar institutions for developing capacity in taxation, excise duty and customs and fiscal matters, and that this has impacted positively on their economy through significantly high tax-to-GDP ratios.
This College is expected to provide training for tax officials, including officers of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Customs, sub-national revenue authorities, and even the general public. It is to consist of a main campus and 12 regional centres.
The Bill proposes that the College would be funded chiefly by the extant yearly subvention of the FIRS for training thus requiring no direct impact on government spending.
- Senator Adamu Aliero representing Kebbi Central District, Kebbi State, commenting on the Bill noted that the only sustainable source of revenue for the Federation was taxation, and that the proposed College would train tax officials who would be instrumental to widening the country’s tax net.
He also added that there is currently no institution in Nigeria that offers specialised training in taxation.
THE REAL CHALLENGE FOR INEC IN ADAMAWA STATE
By Ahmad Sajoh
The gubernatorial candidate of APC in Adamawa State is throwing a challenge to INEC. Review the election held in Adamawa state in 16 Local Government Areas or in it’s entirety if you so wish. We are ready for it. Every vote cast for Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani is a legitimate vote. Review the results, conduct forensic verification, do whatever you can to authenticate the results. You can only arrive at one conclusion. The votes scored by and recorded for Senator Binani are legit. But the other side cannot make the same claims. They do not have the courage or the audacity to ask for a review even in places they lost. Let a review be conducted and the manufactured figures recorded for PDP will fall like a park of cards. They are not legitimate votes. They are mostly ghost figures allocated by dubious officials mostly after our agents have signed the correct results.
There are a number of key areas we are challenging the figures cooked up for the incumbent PDP Governor and in all we have concrete proof that the votes purportedly allocated were not legitimate. We are not afraid of such verification catching us in any way. Let it be done whole sale in those we have identified. Let the review process affect whoever is concerned, if it doesn’t favour us so be it. Let the PDP come out openly and accept that a review be conducted in all those identifies areas we have listed in this write up. Clutching onto lies about the fracas in just one Local Government such as Fufore is not enough. We are challenging the legitimacy of the votes purportedly cast and recorded in 16 of the 21 LGAs. Let them accept the challenge and ask for a review as well.
The first and most important of the reviews required is the use of BVAS machines for accreditation of voters. In most of the Local Government Areas were bogus results are posted the BVAS machines were completely ignored. Voters were simply ferried from one location to another and made to queue and vote without any reference to the BVAS machine. We challenge INEC to compare the results posted with the BVAS accreditation reports. We are willing to concede if the two tally. If accreditation by BVAS is the basis for legitimizing the March 18th elections, then the exercise is totally illegitimate in most places in Adamawa State. We make bold to say the BVAS machines only went a tourism trip to many places in the state. They were not instruments for conducting legitimate elections. They were not used in most places.
Secondly there are multiple alterations on result sheets in many places. In most of the areas where outrageous results are posted, the result sheets bear glaring alterations often signed by someone other than our agents. Those alterations are often conducted in some backwater locations far from the polling areas. They simply connive with highly compromised officials including security personnel to change figures before taking them to collation centers. In fact they did it without any creativity or fear of God. For a figure 24 for example, they simply added a 2 before or a 4 after. Thus for them 24 could either be 224 or 244. It was so obvious that in some instances they forgot to change the over all total or the amount in words until at the collation center when further cancellations take place. We have many of such altered result sheets in our possession presently.
Thirdly they are to have ordered officials to write reports for polling units where no elections took place at all. This is the most annoying of all the fraud perpetrated. In many locations with serious security challenges the people had relocated long ago due to the activities of Boko Haram, yet INEC maintains a record of polling units located there. Such places had voters and are deserted. But elections were purported to have been held there. Humongous results of people voting was recorded without any proof of even INEC staff visiting the places. These are scandalous occurrences which need to be properly reviewed.
Another form of fraud peretrsted was result swapping. We have it on record that in many places results were swapped with APC results being recorded for PDP and the zero votes of PDP recorded for APC. These results being swapped and changes made to the originals is rampant and in favour of PDP. Sometimes all votes cast were simply recorded for PDP and something insignificant allocated to the APC that was the original winner in that polling unit.
One of the most worrisome of the fraud perpetrated is the changes made to figures at the collation center. Almost all totals at the collation centers are at variance with the totals obtained at the polling units. On several occasions we drew the attention of INEC but it appeared they are not interested in ensuring that the process is free, fair and credible. Now we are calling for a review. For the sake of the credibility of the process and the legitimacy of the outcome, we need a review please.
Perhaps it will be necessary to point at two other lapses that had seriously questioned the legitimacy of the election. One is vote buying and the other is voter intimidation using hired thugs. The security agencies either deliberately ignored such glaring cases of vote buying or that the cases were so rampant that there was no need objecting to them. We have pictures and videos of PDP operatives sharing materials and money in the presence of security agencies and other citizens right at the polling booths.
As for voter intimidation, the original plan was to scare away women from polling units. But when they realized that even men were afraid they sent all away including our agents. Getting such free space they committed many other atrocities including ballot box staffing and multiple thumb printing. There is a particular polling unit in Madagali where a relation of one of the gubernatorial candidates openly and forcefully took away the governorship box and went home to stuff it before bringing it back.
Part of the review we want is to also look at the serial numbers of the ballot papers. Since the ballot papers were allocated to locations in batches it is quite obvious that anyone of a different serial number may be brought there from other locations. How did they get there? Simply put we want a review and not to have all those anomalies swept under the carpet. Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed Binani wants to win this election legitimately. She is not asking INEC to favour her. She wants to win or loose on account of legitimate votes not through dubious manipulation of the process and the allocation of unearned votes allocated by dubious officials. All we are asking for is that INEC should conduct a review based on the provisions of the electoral act. And whatever is discovered to have been done right we shall stand by it. However where glaring anomalies exist expunge them as required by law no matter who is affected by the existence of such anomaly. It is all we ask for, and it is within the ambit of the law. That is certainly not too much to ask.
Tax Administrators Must Match The Pace Of Global Technological Advancements — CATA President
Tax administrators must keep up with the dynamics occasioned by disruptive new technologies of the 21st century, and arm themselves with the necessary skills, capacity and character for effective and efficient tax administration in the fourth industrial revolution age.
This was the position expressed by the President of the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA), and Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Muhammad Nami in his charge to the 2022 CATA Senior Leadership cohort, during the closing ceremony of the programme held at His Majesty’s Treasury Headquarters, London, United Kingdom, on Friday.
Mr. Nami, in his remarks, highlighted that due to technological advancements in actualising human needs, fulfilling social interactions and conducting commercial activities, the way and manner of tax administration is constantly changing. He thus called for tax administrators to keep up with the times by improving on their skills and competence in line with these changes.
“The global tax arena is continually changing,” he noted. “The growing reliance on technology for much of basic human needs, social interactions and business dealings means that the tax-turf remains in a state of constant flux.
“The taxman is only able to match the depth and pace of the changes if equipped with relevant, adequate and up-to-date skills.”
The CATA President praised the Commonwealth association for its investments and contributions through its Senior Leadership Programme, which he noted has helped bridge the capacity gaps of tax officials in member countries.
“I am glad to note that CATA has, over the years, continued to organise the Senior Leadership Programme in order to meet the capacity development needs of tax officials in commonwealth countries. It has become a tradition for CATA to provide participants at this programme with top-notch tuition using case studies in a fun-filled environment.
“The 2022 edition did not depart from this tradition. The classes, according to reports, were very interactive all through the various sessions whether at home, in India or in the UK.
“Without doubt, the capacity of participants to lead themselves, to lead others, and to lead their functional units have been greatly enhanced.”
Quoting the renowned African philosophy of Ubuntu, “I am, because we are,” Mr. Nami urged the twenty (20) participants drawn from senior tax officials in commonwealth countries to put the knowledge and skills they have acquired during the programme into good use for the benefit of their countries, while further calling on the cohort to maintain and sustain the network of colleagues they have met during the programme.
The CATA Senior Leadership Programme is a yearly senior-level Leadership Programme delivered by His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on behalf of the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators. It pools together senior leaders of tax authorities in Commonwealth countries to equip them with the requisite leadership skills to navigate their organisations in a dynamic and complex landscape. The programme recognises the importance of good leadership to result-driven tax administration in the 21st century.
The 2022 edition combined residencies in India and the UK, accompanied with virtual sessions, and work within the domestic tax authorities of participants.
Johannes Oluwatobi Wojuola
Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman, FIRS (President, CATA)
(Media & Communication)
March 20, 2023
- “Nigeria College of Taxation and Fiscal Studies” Bill Passes Second Reading
- Opinion: BINANI,HOW THE DESIRE AND POWER OF A WOMAN BECKONS BLOODBATH IN ADAMAWA
- Matashin da aka yi yunƙurin cire wa ƙoda domin bai wa ƴar Ekweremadu
- THE REAL CHALLENGE FOR INEC IN ADAMAWA STATE
- DAN JARMA ADAMAWA MUSTAPHA VISITS KWANKWASO, ABBA, SOLICITS FOR REINSTATEMENT OF LAMIDO SUNUSI AS EMIR OF KANO