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Nigeria-No Representation Without Taxation

The Nigerian National Assembly

As long as Nigeria continues the policy of resource-capture,it would remain a trust-fund-state and it’s government, unaccountable.The truth is that,under the present arrangement,the government controls too much money.With seemingly unhindered and independent access to a limitless pot of money,the government cannot feel the need to seek the approbation of the people.If the government feels it can do without the approval of the people,it has little incentive to govern in the interests of the people.It does not need to go to the people for money ,for it’ running and administration.

The corollary to this situation,is that the people themselves will not demand good governance,since they are not responsible for the financial upkeep of the government.And unless people absolutely demand good governance,they are not going to get it.Governments,anywhere in the world,have to be pushed to perform to the satisfaction of the people.Taxation,in this regard,is central to good governance,because people will demand probity and accountability from the government,if they are financing it,with their hard-earned money.This is a  “quid pro quo”. Taxation for representation.

The reason corruption is so prevalent here is because,people are nonchalant about it.I can assure you that,were people sustaining the government through taxation,reports of corrupt practices would  be more gut-wrenching and visceral,with a good chance of leading to mass protests.The thought of politicians stealing your money ,not “our” money,would prove sufficient motivation to take some sort of action.If politicians understood that stealing of public funds would be attended by serious consequences,they would desist.Politicians would not behave well because they are good people,but because they fear the people.They would have no choice.

Currently,most of us have no deep conviction that government money is really “my” money.With the exception of those from the Niger Delta,most Nigerians cannot really explain how government could be taking money from them.How can you feel government is in your debt,when your ancestral lands and rivers are all intact,especially being African.How can the government owe you anything,including accountability?.Except in the Niger Delta,where the despoiled environment is proof enough that someone is taking something from them.Any wonder then,that they are the only Nigerians to take up arms against the government for purely economic reasons?

I am willing to bet that if the government were been kept by our taxes,and kept is the right word,government would be more responsive to the feelings and needs of the people.Certainly,we would not have a situation where,even though we have a GDP per capita of $2,150 compared to $48,368 for the United States,according to the world bank(2009 figures),we still manage to pay our senators $1.7m a year, compared to $174,000 and $400,000 for the American senator and president respectively.Even for a people with a gift for travesty,this is outrageous.I bet you are raining curses on those guys.Believe me,if we were paying for all this ,we would not limit our reaction to cursing.We would act too.

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4 responses to “Nigeria-No Representation Without Taxation

  1. codliveroil September 16, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Good points.

    So what are people waiting for? There is no substitute for hard work for self-improvement and national development.

    Why is there such reluctance from the non-oil producing states to lift themselves out of poverty by their boot straps? Look at Rwanda a relatively small country, with no oil and it’s doing fine. They are utilising their resources and the lives of the people are improving.

    Always looking away to Abuja is no excuse for inaction, even though the powers of the constituent states are limited, they can still bring about effective change in the lives of it’s inhabitants if the will is there, yet the governors are always excused for under performance. I don’t feel this avenue has been properly explored. A lot of money is allocated to each state, but the results are useless white elephant projects that weren’t conceived properly and are not maintained and rapidly fall into disrepair., or the means of accounting for expenditure is the massive amount of graft that occurs at state and local government levels.

    If it can be shown that the states have done all that is within their remit to develop, then people can sit back and say it’s the fault of the centre. But this clearly isn’t the case, so they shouldn’t be sitting back now. The blame is as much with the governed as with the governors.

    Nigerians are masters at wriggling away from the truth, this current situation will advance the country one bit. Yet when statistics are published that other countries are outstripping Nigeria, there are howls of disbelief. People have to choose what they want a future that holds promise, or the present that offers nothing.

    • henryik2009 September 16, 2010 at 1:02 pm

      Codliveroil Thanks for your comment.Our people are not exercised by the duty of national development,though much lip-service is paid to it.Our people are more interested in the ethnic-balancing act.People want to ensure that their people get as much opportunity to rob and steal as other tribes.All politicking and legislating are subject to this imperative.It is always about how to share and never about how to bake,the national ‘cake’.With such a consumptive agenda Nigeria will struggle to develop.For not only does this ‘ideology’ lead to tremendous waste of resources,it is also promotional of mediocrity. For me,the only way to break out of this cycle of ‘sharing ‘ and ‘balancing’,is to focus development at the state level.You can argue that the states could have done much better with their allocations.The reason the states are not being held to account is because the prevalent view is,that Abuja is still calling the shot.That view will not change until it is clear that Abuja is no longer in the business of collection and sharing money.We should do away with tokenism.Full resource control is needed,phased over a period of time to allow for adjustment.When people realize that Abuja no longer shares money,their state governments will have their full and undivided attention.Not before.Abuja needs to stop sharing money.

      • codliveroil September 16, 2010 at 4:27 pm

        What you say makes sense, but why must people waste time and money by clinging onto “sharing the cake”. One used to get annoyed at such an attitude, now I just sigh. Today, we hear that Ghana will be the first African country to halve poverty and reach the Millenium development goals by 2015.

        Compare this to Nigeria’s approach

        http://www.naijablog.co.uk/2010/09/on-ongoing-cholera-epidemic.html

        and

        http://allafrica.com/stories/201009141173.html

        People are dying needlessly every year from cholera and other preventable diseases, and next to no one says anything about it. Then you know we are heading down the plug hole.
        Ghana made these strides before the discovery of oil, for the past 25 years, yes 25 years they have been investing in agriculture and improving the roads, to allow the farmers to get their goods to market, rural poverty has halved as a result. Yet, our very own Nigeria, with a lot more cash has regressed in 25 years, it can’t even guarantee clean drinking water and proper sanitation for it’s citizens. Yet Nigerians like to shout that Nigeria is better than Ghana. What are these people talking about, let us look at facts and call a spade a spade.

      • henryik2009 September 16, 2010 at 4:57 pm

        Codliveroil Thanks for your comment.Not having a pot of money to fight over,Ghana escaped the excesses of a trust-fund state like Nigeria.They were spared the distractions,greed and mediocrity fostered by a ‘spoils’ culture.As everybody knows those who have inherited wealth are less likely to roll up their sleeves and work,than those who have not.Removing that pot of money would greatly concentrate minds,and spur development.That is why resource control is so key.

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