Vanguard (Lagos)

22 February 2013

Nigeria: How Edo People React to Oshiomhole's Property Tax

Are the people of Edo state complying with the recent property tax bill signed into law by Governor Adams Oshiomhole?

How supportive and willing are the electorate to government in a bid to achieving this tax drive considering the virulent protests that heralded the passage of the bill into law?

Can Oshiomhole succeed in delivering the dividends of democracy without the tacit support of the people that gave him a resounding mandate during his re-election last year? This report reflects some of the opinions of some groups and persons sampled in Edo state recently.

Clerics should pay tax-Bini Crown Prince, Eheneden

Governor Adams Oshiomhole should tax the rich church leaders in the state. It is difficult to draw a line between the House of God and business houses because private jets are now owned by men of God. The Governor should find an angle through which to collect taxes from some church leaders without taxing the House of God.

There should be an exemption for some low income earners by taxing the extremely rich in our society. Close those ventures that don't want to pay tax. Tax is a basic thing. In Europe, you will be thrown into jail for not paying taxes.

Property tax should be targeted at the super rich to provide for the poor-Alh. Dada Akpeji, Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa

In Oshiomhole's search for solution to meet the development obligations through property tax, he assured us that he was not going to turn on the poor to raise money for the Edo projects. The poor needs support. Therefore, Oshiomhole's government should never, ever under any excuse evolve policies that would affect those classified as poor.

Governor Oshiomhole told us during a Town Hall meeting that he won't take blood from a sick person to treat another person. It applies to those in the rural areas because the tax has nothing to do with them. I am sure you know that market women are Oshiomhole's people, and he knows where they live.

This law is not about them. It is meant for those who have choice houses in certain parts of the state. The spirit that goes with this new law was misunderstood at inception but, we now understand that it was targeted at the rich and government should do what it needs to do to enforce compliance in order to help the poor.

Basically, I can say that we are in support of government because its targets are specified. And above all, the resources that will come from this process will be used judiciously to rebuild Edo State for the poor to benefit.

The law will discourage crass accumulation of wealth-Hon. Washington Osa-Osifo, Edo Is In Safe Hands

The property tax drive reminds me of Ujamaa; the basis of African Socialism. In a socialist society, it is the socialist attitude of mind, and not the rigid adherence to a standard political pattern, which is needed to ensure that the people care for each other's welfare. This law for me, will discourage our attitude for crass accumulation of wealth, including land.

Remember that the man who uses wealth for the purpose of dominating any of his fellows is a capitalist. So, if Oshiomhole is taxing them, why should I complain?

Acquisitiveness for the purpose of gaining power and prestige is unsocialist. In an acquisitive society, wealth tends to corrupt those who possess it. It tends to breed in them, a desire to live more comfortably than their fellows, to dress better, and in every way to outdo them.

Besides, they also begin to feel that they must climb as far above their neighbours as they can. The visible contrast between their own comfort and the comparative discomfort of the rest of society becomes almost essential to the enjoyment of their wealth, and thus sets off the spiral of personal competition-which is then anti-social.

We really need to bridge the inequality gap- Eugene Okolose

If this law means bridging the gap between the haves and the haves-not, it is a welcomed development. It is sad that while majority of our people are living on 50ft by 50ft, and the old traditional face me, I face you, there are others who live in 10,000 square meters. What we are saying is simply that, individuals in such kind of houses cannot pay same taxes. That will mean furthering the inequality gap.

You can't take so much land and you do not want to pay tax on it. You have squeezed a majority of the people into a cubicle and you take a football field. This new law simply states that all our poor people who live in high density area will not pay anything. We are happy and will assist government to achieving it's purpose.

It is un-African, and corrupt to abandon the poor-Chief Nosagie Irabor, PDP Chieftain

An ideal African society ought to be so organized that it cares about it's individuals. One thing is certain, provided the people are willing to work, no individual within that society should worry about what will happen to him tomorrow if he does not hoard wealth today.

Society itself should look after him, or his widow or his orphans. This is what traditional African society succeeded in doing-both the 'rich' and the 'poor' individual were completely secure in African society but today, reverse is the case.

The law is basically designed to ensure that those who take so much land pay a little more so that government can build the state and provide for those who have no property.

This law is not for tenants, it is not for Churches, it is not for traditional family houses, it is not for mosques, it is not for palaces, burial grounds, and owner occupiers, but it is for the rich who have choice houses in certain parts of the state.

The spirit behind the property tax law for me is simple; for a better and ideal society, we take care of the community and the community takes care of us.

The law must respect and be fair to all-Mrs. Oizamsi Onaivi, Labour Party

I have no doubt that Governor Oshiomhole will respect everybody that deserves respect but must enforce the law exactly the way it is. God expects everyman of authority to be fair to all irrespective of the economic circumstances.

Oshiomhole's first step therefore, must be to re-educate our people to regain our former attitude of mind because it never occurred to anyone to try to claim land but now that we have one man, occupying ten plots of land and yet, acquiring more at the detriment of the society and it's citizens, they should pay something to develop the community in the form of property tax.

The law will safeguard the rich and balance social inequality-Miss Iyobo Ozakpolo

There is one thing that I am happy about this law; it does not know if you are a rich man. It expects the rich to behave more responsibly, because they benefit more. They have greater stake if the system collapses. According to Karl Max, if there is confusion, the poor like the prisoner will have only his chains to lose, but the rich man will carry his house, cars and his estates. But the poor man will just run. He does not have anything. So, the rich must understand that they have a greater stake.

Those who are rich should ensure that the country or Edo state, as the case may be, live in peace and the poor are given every reason not to attack the rich. Government must keep them busy, put food on their table, create employment, and use the instrument of state to address public welfare otherwise, there would be no peace in the society.

A chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Mr. John Mayaki said, it is one thing for the law abiding people of Edo state to pay their tax especially the property tax and another thing which is one of the cardinal objectives of this administration is to instill the value of maintenance culture in the citizenry of the state.

The money would be collected to build infrastructure in the state such as the on-going rehabilitation of roads, beautification exercise in Benin metropolis, including the desilting of gutters and drainages. But government must be conscious at inculcating maintenance culture in the system because the people have not imbibed this culture.

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