Sunday, July 25, 2021

On introduction of consumption tax in Kano State, by Turaki A. Hassan

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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No government or its agents and agencies can tax the citizens without approval from the elected representatives of the Nigerian people. It is on record that various courts have declared such acts as illegal and amounts to extortion. This has been posited by legal luminaries and experts. A clear example is the parking levy imposed on Abuja residents during the former administration of Goodluck Jonathan.  The court declared it illegal.

The questions to be asked are: Has the Kano State House of Assembly passed a bill to this effect? Has the bill been signed into law by the Governor? What is the place of VAT given the tax regime? Does it not amount to double or even multiple taxation on the hapless citizens?

Taxation without representation is tyranny was the famous slogan in the 1700s in the United States of America.  The American people revolted against the British Crown for taxing them and not allowing them to have their elected representatives in the Parliament in London. This caused the American revolution.  Governments at all levels must therefore tread carefully on this issue because the very moment the people realised that they are being taxed and such monies are not judiciously utilised, they could revolt.

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On the other hand, however, it is my firm belief that for democracy to thrive in any society, the people must contribute to its sustenance by paying their taxes; that way, they will be conscious of actions and inaction of governments and thus hold their leaders accountable. The docile nature of the Nigerian masses towards governments at all levels may not be unconnected to the very fact that they contribute very little or even nothing to the revenue that comes from oil except those working in formal sectors of the economy and pay PAYE at source including civil servants.

This matter was sufficiently addressed over 2,300 years ago by the great Greek Philosophers Plato and later Aristotle. While Aristotle strongly argued that for democracy to thrive, the citizens must participate actively, and thus contended that one of the surest ways to safeguard that is for the citizens to contribute to the common wealth through payment of taxes which will rise their consciousness to always hold leaders accountable. For Plato, for democracy to thrive, there must be strong middle class who own properties. Thus, in his work The Republic, Plato argued and cautioned against accumulation of wealth by the extremely rich and very few elites who are in most cases above the law. He said societies should device ways and means of distributing wealth so such that the middle class will be large, strong and be sufficiently empowered because they form the best political community. That way, democracy can thrive. To him, anything contrary to this will create a slave-master relationship between the extremely very rich few and the extremely very poor masses.

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From the foregoing, it is in our collective interest as a nation to come up with a national development plan that will deliberately transfer wealth to the hands of the large majority of our people in order to create a strong middle class.

Mr Hassan wrote in from the National Assembly. His Twitter handle is @turakies

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