Plenty things you can do.

I watched recently few videos of our young and dynamic Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade. I am proud of having such a knowledgeable individual as one of our governors in the present day Nigeria, he made his points on COVID-19 logically and was quite sensible.

I also watched his video where he launched ANTI TAX AGENCY by appointing mainly clergy men and women as the members of the Task Force, he cried which I believed was genuine tears of failure and confusion as number one citizen of Cross River State.
Now I appreciate his worries about corruption in tax collection system and apparent abuse of power by men and women previously appointed which are Nigerians who disappointed him, these present members are Nigerians too, presumably mainly people whose states of origin are Cross River state. The sacked ones are corrupt and insensitive, they should be mostly members of his political party, chosen based on loyalty and faith that they will help him in giving the best to the people of Cross River State. Men and women of proven integrity are available everywhere and so also are the crooks, irrespective of religions or creeds. The good and evil men and women purposively chose the course of their actions and it may appear that this is genetically driven. Many churches and mosque, including the other religions as well as organizations are plagued with corruptions and any worse crime that can be imagined. An assumption that the clergy and imams are relevant people to head this new body was purely sentimental and based on very wrong premise. Shockers await Mr. Governor when the first assignment of the task team becomes the demands for adequate remunerations and how to better their lives, time reveals all things.

Perhaps, he should have appoint an independent consultant to get him men and women of honour, with proven integrity irrespective of their geographical and political leanings. This may have possibly yield a list of credible individuals.

Moreover, the name of the body ‘ANTI TAX’ is somewhat confusing, how can a state established an Anti-Tax outfit and yet expect to get adequate revenue to meet the state expenditure especially in the face of dwindling monthly handouts from Federation account occasioned by the glut in oil market. A knee-jack approach is undesirable and a serious government should create a template for tax which is reasonable. However, the tax should be used judiciously. Nigerians will gladly pay tax if evidence of what the tax is used for is verifiable. Tax everybody according to their income, don’t over tax and be accountable. There are many ways to get revenue without double taxation or over-taxation. No working members of a society should be exempted from tax, there may be tax holiday to encourage certain sector of economy to encourage investment in that space but no to tax cancellation. State that adopt such policy may not survive it however popular the opinion may be.

The Governor should consider using the remainder 3 year of his tenure in office, to critically think through how to boost revenue generation for the State. Outsiders with experience in this field may be engaged as long as they showed professionalism and are lawful organisations or individuals. The market women on the side of the roads can be assisted by building presentable but strong kiosks to shade them from sun and rain, the government may refurbish the markets with excellent sanitation and first class maintenance, provide health care facilities and emergency points close by and tax them. Finally, the introduction of modern technologies will assist the government, and transform analog thinking of Nigerian leaders. Governor Ayade, be practical and engage professional to help your government.

Bola Babarinde
South Africa