Skip links

CHRICED Flays Presidential Adviser Over ‘No Taxation, No Government Service’ Threat

The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) condemns unequivocally the recent threat by Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, chair of a Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, that the Bola Tinubu administration will make life unbearable for Nigerians who do not pay their taxes. Mr. Oyedele was quoted as saying that he will “make life impossible” for citizens who do not pay taxes because they will be unable to access key services, such as employment or international travel, because their transactions will be tracked using the National Identity Number (NIN) and Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) registration. An insensitive and draconian approach to increasing government revenue is, to say the least, inappropriate. CHRICED recalls with nostalgia that the same Mr. Oyedele had criticized Mr. Babatunde Fowler, the then-Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), in 2016 over similar plans.

For a nation with a teeming population of unemployed, underemployed, indigent, and vulnerable citizens, it is evident that the designers of the tax initiative are either not using the correct data set or are hell-bent on inflicting more suffering on Nigerians. While CHRICED is not opposed to the government’s plans to increase its revenue, it must be done with a focus on the people. Therefore, it is insensitive to issue a generalized threat to deny essential services to all categories of citizens in the name of an imperialist and overzealous tax drive that is not based on a consultative, pro-poor and all-inclusive decision with citizens, but rather to satisfy external prescriptions by the IMF and the World Bank.

Nigeria according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), over 133 million citizens are currently living in multi-dimensional poverty in Nigeria. Poorly conceived and implemented government policies, such as the Naira redesign of the previous regime and the subsidy removal and currency floating of the Tinubu administration, have pushed many more people into abject poverty. Inflationary pressures have eroded the purchasing power of an increasing number of Nigerians, and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, which should have been the drivers of economic development, have failed. Millions of more Nigerians are no longer making meaningful contributions to economic growth, either because they have lost their businesses, jobs and other livelihood opportunities.

Any government that is serious about rebuilding the wealth of the country and the dispensable income of citizens, must think of strategies that would reflate the economy, and bring back lost businesses and jobs, which have been seriously eroded by years of terrible anti-people policies of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC). Has the Tinubu government reined in the oil thieves and criminals that made the country to lose billions of dollars monthly? What about the political swindlers that emptied our treasury, who are today recircled as legislators, ministers and governors? Has the government even thought of the reason why Nigerians are importing goods through Republic of Benin, Niger and Chad due to excessive import duties and tariffs? The cost of governance is still rising with the new award of N70 billion to the National Assembly members for profligate expenses.

For us at CHRICED therefore, it is the responsibility of the government to put in place the catalysts, which will enable energetic, innovative, and hardworking Nigerians to create wealth and drive the economy. It is only after putting such incentives in place to boost the economy that the government will now find a logical rationale to tax the wealth being generated. It therefore amounts to putting the cart before the horse for the government to be aggressively moving to tax poor and impoverished citizens, who actually need its interventions to reflate the economy. This point becomes a lot important in the context of the harsh operating environment, multiple taxation, official and unofficial extortions, and the excessive cost of running businesses in Nigeria.

Before the Tinubu government issues threat to citizens over payment of taxes therefore, it should direct its focus on massive job creation, decisive fight against corruption and rejig critical elements such as electricity generation without which businesses would remain in the limbo. The administration must also work to achieve real results in ensuring security of lives and property and the provision of critical infrastructure. These are the key elements which would spur prosperity and make businesses to be sustainable, while generating huge quantum of revenues for government. As things stand therefore, any taxation policy, which does not take into cognizance these realities, but is anchored on threatening long suffering Nigerians with denial of services, is bound to end up as yet another inhumane policy from the stable of the Tinubu Presidency. Instructively too, it is on record that the same Mr. Oyedele before he became a presidential fiscal policy and tax reform adviser spoke out against such draconian tax drives. That he is now proposing such measures, which he opposed as an independent analyst, puts a question mark on his and the government’s sincerity of purpose.

Finally, CHRICED believes that Nigerians ultimately have a say in determining if the policy stands or not. Just as the people spoke out to roundly reject the poorly conceived palliative program of the government, which planned to give so-called N8000 per household to 12 million poorest citizens, CHRICED calls for a groundswell of citizens voices to kick against the inhumane tax drive of the government, and every other inhumane policies and programs. The way this administration is going, it looks more like an attempt to drain every drop of blood from the veins of long suffering Nigerians. With the vast majority of Nigerians getting their livelihoods from the informal sector, this type of tax drive being proposed by the Tinubu regime will be an unmitigated economic disaster, even if it will make available more monies for the political elites to waste on frivolities.

Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi
Executive Director

Leave a comment