Land Use Charge By Edo Govt: Wrong Timing, Poor Strategy, By Ogbeide Ifaluyi-isibor


Section 24(f) of the Nigerian Constitution as Amended admonishes every citizen to "Declare his income honestly to appropriate and Lawful agencies and pay his tax promptly"
Taxation has never been an issue with the Edo people after all,it's the duty of Every citizen to pay his taxes to Government as enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria.
The people would however find it a bit challenging when they cannot trust the Government to whom taxes are paid with the taxes so paid for very obvious reasons chief of which is Trust!
The perception of the people of their Government is fundamental in the Governance of that people in Every democratic setting.
The fact is that Edo people do not trust the Government with the monies Generated through taxation.
The State Government since early 2013 has been Generating internally about N2billion Monthly,this is aside the Federal allocation that accrues to the state every month and the Myriads of borrowings the state Government has procured since inception.The big question is; Can the Government match these monies received on behalf of the State to the development on ground in Edo State today? The answer is obvious..
The Land use Charge birthed by this Government may not have been a bad idea in-toto but is the timing right concerning the Economic Situation of the State viz;
Lack of job creation.
Lack of Foreign and Local investment.
High unemployment rate.
High handedness of Government..
Proliferation of Government serviced thugs used to collect revenues..
Insensitive Government policies..
Abysmally poor Governance of the State that has resulted in lack of development and provision of basic amenities..
How then is a government going to effectively demand more taxation from the hoi polio who suffer these plagues!
If the Edo State Government was wiser,she would have adopted the Land use Charge model adopted by the Ondo state Government,where a fixed and relatively low amount is charged and residents are admonished to pay by instalment within a given period.
The rich in the high brow areas pay some more than the poor who make up over 70% of the Population.
That is a more responsive and reasonable way to encourage the people to comply and not by slamming a N350,000(three hundred and fifty thousand Naira) Charge on a 4 bedroom bungalow owned by a retired civil servant who hasn't been paid his pension in 6 months.Does that make any sense really!
Government should have adopted a more robust approach by continued information dissemination and enlightenment of the people as regards this New tax law and the benefits to the state and the individuals for at least one year before the implementation.
By this, majority of the people would have been prepared for the task and would have been able to put monies aside for it as against 65 year old Mr Osunde waking up on a beautiful morning,trying to figure out how he would fend for his family,bothered about his kids who have no jobs after acquiring university education,the increase by over 70% of the University fees of his undergraduate kids and the myriad of Challenges he would face for the day and then some Government staff gives him a document demanding him to pay to the Government an amount of money he can only imagine.To him,that would be ludicrous and asinine.You can bet that he would revolt naturally.
The State Government had better suspend the Land use Charge in its entirety or adopt a more reasonable model if it must be implemented.
We must remember that Being in Government in the first place was as a result of the imprimatur of the people through the ballot,Government must therefore act in the sanest of ways in the interest of the State and the people who truly own the power…..