By Ed Malik, A | November 21, 2022
Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Sunday, condemned as burdensome and unbearable the taxation regime of Governor Chukwuma Soludo in Anambra State, noting that the policy thrust is pushing more of the citizens to the regions of extreme poverty.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, said that the yoke of reckless taxation has always been counter-productive rather than yield positive results for social development and betterment of the welfare of people.
The group told the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to jettison his extreme utopian policies which it said are not workable for the people of Anambra State.
Since his inauguration as the fifth democratic Governor of Anambra State on March 17, 2022. Soludo has introduced various kinds of taxes on the poor in Anambra. Heavy taxes are imposed on market men and women, bus drivers, tricycle operators, wheelbarrow pushers, shop owners and hawkers, and even mourners, making the people of the state lament endlessly under his harsh regime.
The governor had lamented that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) failed to make remittances into the federation account since February and has therefore significantly impacted the available resources to most states government.
Subsequently, he directed tricycle riders to pay N15,000 each on a monthly basis, operators of shuttle buses to pay N25,000 monthly, commercial motorcycle operators to pay N7,500 monthly, while taxi drivers pay N17,500 each for one month, amongst others.
Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The approach of Governor Soludo is most unfortunate because he has largely targeted the poor with his regime of unbearable taxation instead of the rich who have perfected the art and act of evading taxes in hundreds of millions of naira. The governor’s heavy taxation of the poor is akin to muzzling the ox when it is treading out the grain which is unrealistic and unnatural. Now some tricycle operators have reportedly become ‘part-time’ armed robbers robbing some unsuspecting members of the public may be in their warped attempt to remain in business by meeting up the unattainable heavy taxes they pay to Soludo’s obnoxious tax collectors.
“With an estimated population of about 5,084,195 and a Gross Domestic Product of about N5.5tn as well as a projected Internally Generated Revenue of N48bn in 2023, Anambra is not Lagos with a projected IGR of N1.1tn in 2023 as erroneously compared by Governor Soludo during his recent budget presentation.
“Governor Soludo’s desperation surfaced recently when he asked sons and daughters of the soil working in other states but with residences in Anambra to remit their taxes to the state government. Governor Soludo should stop comparing Anambra to Lagos to justify his desperation to tax the poor to death; he should rather focus on the extremely rich and average individuals who are not in the tax net.
By the way, was it not the same Charles Nwagbafor Soludo who boasted during the campaign period that he has global connections to attract funds to develope Anambra state if voted into office? So why is he pushing mostly the poor Anambrarians into commercial extinction with all kinds of taxes?
“This is because his anti-poor tax regime has impoverished more residents of the state. This is not good at all considering that 130 million Nigerians are poor, according to latest statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics which listed five components of health, living standard, education, security, and unemployment.
“Soludo, who has embarked on a loan spree with the recent approval of the state House of Assembly of his plan to collect #100 billion loans should use it to deliver better social services to the people, provide education, security and good roads and stop taxing the poor. He has boasted that his roads will last 20 years, Anambra people should watch his roads and see how durable they are because it is easier to brag as politicians than to deliver realistically particularly for Soludo who has never even govern a ward talk more of a State as complex as Anambra.
“HURIWA calls for a swift change to a more beneficial governance that will lift up the poor to their better selves and turn them to productive citizens in Anambra and not the other way around. Let the professor well and stop giving excuses.”