Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State said Nigeria must return to its strict tax policy which was applicable before the oil boom of the seventies as a way of getting out of the present crisis caused by a crash in the price of crude oil.
The governor, who said nobody is above taxation as even the President and governors pay their taxes, said states and federal government must deepen their Internally Generated Revenue base as this is what obtains in developed countries of the world.
Speaking during a visit to his office by Course 24 participants of the National Defence College, on a study tour of Edo State, over the weekend, Oshiomhole said, “Central to every debate to every country with mature democracy is the issue of tax payment. We have to find the courage to be firm and just and we have to give commensurate service.
“When I was growing up, the only thing we had was the Local Government Authority Primary school and everybody who was up to eighteen years and above paid a fixed tax.
“Somehow, at the peak of our oil boom, this practice was abolished, and today if you go to my village, they have a very beautiful school, but only few people are paying tax.
How far can we continue like that? For me, this is a national issue that government has to address, not just about Edo but the whole nation whether we truly can have a functioning state where 90% of the people are outside the tax bracket but are entitled to facilities.
“Central to the political debate in every country is question of taxation. Who gets what? Are you going to collect more taxes from the rich or are you going to collect more taxes from the poor?
“But a progressive government would ensure that taxes are paid, but it would be structured in such a way that the rich will pay more than the poor but everybody will pay something and it is the taxes collected from the rich that is used to provide a robust social safety net for those who are victims of so-called market forces and of competition.
“So tax, whether by government to the left or right are not contestable, they must be paid but who pays what is where the details lies and that is where the values of the government lies.
“What Nigeria needs in terms of Internally Generated Revenue is to recognise that governance is about courage, about will and also about fairness. If you are going to apply the law, apply it without any discrimination.”
Earlier, the Commandant of the National Defence College, Real Admiral Samuel Alade said, “we have come around; we have seen for ourselves and for people like us who pass through this place at least once in six months, every time we pass through, we notice one change or the other.”

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