For whose benefit is Osun Economic Development Fund?

How I wish Nigerians will be assertive where issues that will directly affect their lives is brewing.

There is no shortage of new policies in Nigeria, often I wondered what politicians think of the general public, to be frank I think they think most Nigerians are not bright. Why did I say this? Well, why would anyone introduced a new policy without providing clear strategy of how proceeds will be spent to the contributors?

Osun state plans to generate internal revenue because federal government obviously has no money to distribute like in the past. This new policy is called Economic Development Levy (EDL).  This is to be levied on business owners. Most people in Osun state are business owners (worth of the business for most is another story). More than half of Nigeria population live in rural area, this is more evidenced in a place like Osun state. Rural infrastructure have been neglected for decades in Nigeria, Osun state is not exception.

To be clear I don’t think Nigeria can develop without all working adults contributing their fair share of taxes, I am in support of taxation. However, I do not think one can achieve this by imposing levies on all persons. Just walking down our streets, it is clear people have different economic strengths so imposing blanket taxes on everyone just because they have a stall of 5000k naira worth tomatoes is unfair.

The first thing that came to mind when I read the new policy was ‘can you please tell us what you intend to do with this new fund’. For years that Nigeria enjoyed high oil price, there is almost nothing to show for it in terms of infrastructural development, now that oil price has reduced significantly, (only in Nigeria) politicians want to retain all the perks, how can this be possible?

While I have loved some of Ogbeni Aregbesola’s policies, I just think this blanket cover of tax collection is a bad idea without stating clearly how and what he planned to use the fund.

In developed countries where they have managed to make significant progress in tax collections, people have lots of incentives to pay their taxes; public libraries, public parks, galleries, clean roads – all of these and others are accessible to all.

If Mama Olobi is now going to be faced with paying taxes based on the size of her stall, what is she getting in return? It will not be fair to collect money from Mama Olobi only to be told stories of civil servants salaries for example – if the state can’t afford to do some things as they used to, then maybe to let go of the excesses?

Secondly, is there going to be exceptions? How can you aim to tax every stall holders when we know that some people are clearly living from hand to mouth in our neighbourhoods?

If my 80+ year old mother who insisted on selling her worobo (petty trade) is approached to pay taxes because someone thinks she has money, (by the way her trade fund comes from my sisters and I), what is she getting in return? She has been on medication for high BP and diabetes for years, would she be eligible for subsidised meds?

Perhaps low oil price has exposed our states to reality of importance of self-sustainability, but one thing that we can all agree on is the inequitable of wealth distribution as our major problem – if all adults are now going to be approached to pay taxes, then the fund collected can not be used to service the unsustainable activities of the past, otherwise no progress in my opinion.



Categories: Nigeria, Politics

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8 replies

  1. Dear Folakemi,

    Thank you for crying out about a subject that everybody is talking in Osun right now. Somebody told me that government people take weighing scales to the open markets at Osogbo to weigh items being sold and then levy taxes based on the items. Ridiculous!

    The person also mentioned that words are going round how commissioners in the state have millions in cash stashed away in their homes! Nigerians know that such monies are fruits of corrupt practices.

    It is my opinion that such retrogressive revenue-generating method will kill trading rather than bring incomes to govt.

    The only way is to plug corruption avenues, cut the retinue of aides: a commissioner for education and adviser/special adviser on educatio … ditto Water, et cetera are duplications; sell off many of the convoy of vehicles in governors’, Assembly and political appointees’ possesions; stop the work on INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT because Ibadan airport is about an hour away, et cetera. Oyinlola bulldozed a huge piece of land for an INTERNATIONAL MARKET … now an overgrown forest on the right hand side after Ede junction on the Osogbo-Ibadan Road.

    Creative thinking and adjustment may not yield immediate prosperity but it would surely prevent further sinking into poverty that Osun State is experiencing.

    Regards,
    TOLA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mrs Adenle.

      I totally agree, government shouldn’t be allowed to rub Peter to pay Paul. I am not sure why were are obsessed with international this and that, a state that can’t really attract people from other states now wants international everything…one day w’ll wake up.

      On the weighing scales, the idea was to encourage standards so our 1kg rice for example is the same across board. Our measuring plastic bowls are not fools proof. It sounds like an okay idea to me but many people kicked against as it reminded them of the uniform saga – they prefer to choose their own vendors as opposed to the state run.

      Like

      • It is not just Osun state that is behaving foolishly and wasting money. We all know the South East and South-South are tiny in comparison to others, yet we have an international airport in Enugu, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Uyo and Calabar. Common sense would dictate have one at Port Harcourt and develop good transportation links ie road and rail with the other major population centres. You can throw a stone from Enugu and it will land in Port Harcourt. like Mrs Adenle has said, huge cost cutting is necessary. The waste of the past has to be brought to an end. Yet no one questions this absurd situation, where ego and greed have been allowed to run rampant.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed.

          Airport craze is another idea that I never get my head around just because it is simply not needed, not when many of our roads need serous work.

          What you said about ego and greed is spot on, but now that we don’t have ‘national cake’ that ego will have to lay to rest somehow.

          Like

  2. Nigeria is where it is, because of the apathy/ ignorance of the general public to democracy. If people had exercised their rights and utilised their votes and questioned those that govern them, then the nation would not be in such a sorry predicament.
    When the price of oil was high the senators vetoed a sovereign wealth fund (swf), preferring to keep the money within arms reach (so that they can steal it). Compare that to Norway that has built up a large swf and is not so vulnerable to shocks in the oil price as a result. If people had questioned the senators and asked questions maybe Nigeria would be in a better place now.
    Questioning authority is a necessary part of democracy and should not be viewed as disrespectful. Hopefully FK your example will cause others to think and also ask questions. Greater transparency is needed to avoid the mistakes of the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fola,taxation is a difficult topic. You are so right that there must be some fairness to it. At one point I was in business with my son. I paid at least five different taxes and this was before we were even profitable. The mismanagement of our tax dollars is another issue.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

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