Obiano has a lot more to say to Ndi Anambra to make sense and mean business. To start with let him declare the quantum, magnitude of legal & illegal taxes
The state-wide broadcast of the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, promising that Anambra State Government will ‘waive’ some draconian taxes is a sign of coming victory for the masses of Anambra state on the terms of the vibrant opposition in the state in which vanguard we proudly are.
With this promise of an announcement from a cornered oppressor who has fallen to people’s power, the long-suffering people of Anambra State are once again set to snatch freedom from the jaws of tyranny.
However, coming when a losable election for the misgoverning party is in sight, it is an uncompleted and uncompletable trick, stripped of all the moralities that should be found in governance.
For close to three years, our consistent song of over-taxation and multiple taxation to the people of Anambra State by multiple agencies of government which collected money in cash after manhandling the grand-mothers on Anambra State in various markets, parks and streets and no one listened, until a handful of viable aspirants announced their intention to give Anambra State a direction after winning next year’s election.
As part of their fleecing of the masses they collected wheel barrow tax, hawking tax, farming tax, pepper tax, environmental tax, radio tax, engine oil tax and all levies under the sun.
Worse still the state government, having decapitated the local government against the letters and spirit of Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees democratically elected local governments as well as the 1999 Anambra State local Government law, the state government stepped in to collect even planning fees, market levies, liquor license fees, business premises etc, accruable to LGs, collected them in cash and blowing them on misplaced priorities.
So far these usurped revenue collected in raw cash by muscle men have been spent on sustenance of over 500 political appointees, including 11 Special Advisers on Political matters, sumptuous birthday parties, champagne orgies and funding of a gubernatorial candidate in Edo State – who would adjust his name from Onaiwu to Ononiwu, while speaking to Ndigbo and return it to the original with other persons.
Yet these taxes are coming after blowing up of substantial investments of Anambra State, which has left a state that is not paying the minimum wage across salary scales with depleted reserves.
This shallow move to redeem this situation by strong empty statements is too little too late, because Ndi Anambra have decided to chart a new course in its affairs and would not be wrong because the broadcast containing these pronouncements is only yet another promise when others have not been kept.
Not even the announcement over a year ago with fan fair that 25 prisoners in Anambra will be released and rehabilitated with the sum of N25 million has crystallized in a state that gives the wrong impression to the world on the true state of affairs in the state.
We liken the latest panic move to that made in January when INEC fixed March 5, for the conduct of the repeat elections for Anambra Central Senatorial zone in announcing the lift of ‘restrictions placed on the movement of motorcycles and tricycles’, unconstitutionally disrupted from movement and business in the first place, without legislation.
Now we are back to removing what had no place in our system in the first place and making it sound like a favour has been done, but worse still attributing it to factors that differ from what it really is.
The biggest issue therefore is that of believing this government which was a while ago arresting its own agents of tax collection in a showmanship of shame, preparatory to this announcement, yet has not shown evidence of recovery in the extorted funds.
The same government claimed to have made $5m from export of vegetables in one fell swoop and proceeded to convert a rice production enterprise of so many years into a ‘public’ product for propaganda reasons, using the portrait of the governor.
The fulfillment of this announcement promise against subsisting odd lies in truly translating this announcement into an actionable government policy, for which there is no sign as yet.
It is very instructive of what our democracy and our constitution has become that no aspect of the governor’s speech made reference to the State House of Assembly, which is vested with the powers of legislature and appropriation in a supposedly critical issue bordering on tax collection and abolishing of tax regime.
But even in the sublime nature of this reformed promise, the terminal APGA-controlled government stopped short of stating what would become of the collections made illegally by the state government or those made in usurp of the functions of the local government, let alone state what will happen to the employees retained by the state to collect these multifarious taxes.
Hence for us, the government has a lot more to say to Ndi Anambra to make sense and mean business.
To start with the State Government should declare the quantum and magnitude of legal and illegal taxes collected in exploitation of Ndi Anambra up to the time the oppressed exploded into the demonstrations occasioning this panic announcement , account properly for them and arrange a proper return of illegal taxes to exploited helpless lowliest of Anambra State , LG funds to the respective LGs with unconditional apologies.
This is the next focus of the struggle which our great party is not tired of leading.
Even then of all the four taxes said to be abolished with the barracks language of ‘immediate effect’- Consolidated emblem, hawkers permit, wheel-barrow tax and students extortion- that of students I vague. ‘I hereby abolish the imposition of unapproved levies on students in public primary and secondary schools in the state’.
This statement made without specifics goes to no issue because the unsuspecting parent does not know which and which is approved, and the approving authority and cannot question school authorities on a normal day particularly for unreceipted payments.
Does this unauthorized payment include the compulsory laptop that was to be acquired for teachers by the state government at 180 percent of the market value under Obiano’s watch dangerously close to the March 5, aborted senatorial polls?
Regarding the other recycled measures, the employment of primary health care personnel, the intervention in small and medium scale industries is the responsibility of government, and unless the Anambra State Government can make proper legislative references for the ‘minimum of N3bn’ which it plans to inject into ASBA going by the panic announcement, something sinister is brewing without the imprint of the legislature and ought to be carefully checked.
It does not matter whether it is coming from a government that claims to have attracted $4bn investment inflow, when that f the entire nation for the same period is $1.04bn.
We urge Ndi Anambra to find the strength to complete this struggle for complete freedom from tokenism and mediocrity and take steps to enthrone next year a government that will realize the role that 21 local governments, working with 21 legislatures and unexploited in revenue sources by a wasteful Anambra State government can play in making ‘central gift’ announcements unnecessary, when the people are naturally industrious.
For:All Progressives Congress, Anambra State Chapter
State Publicity Secretary