By Henry Umoru
ABUJA â€” DELTA State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, has urged all oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to, as matter of urgency, relocate their headquarters to the region if the area must witness meaningful development.
He also called on the people of the state to ensure that they collect their tax certificates.
According to him, with the payment of tax and the issuance of certificates, the people will now be empowered to inquire from the government ifÂ infrastruc-ture and some basic amenities are not provided.
He lamented that when people pay tax, the money does not get to the coffers of the government as it enters into private hands.
Meanwhile, Chairman of Nigeriaâ€™s Governorsâ€™ Forum and Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, earlier in his remarks, warned that the country should shift from using the price of oil to determine the revenue base of the country, adding that security agencies must be prepared to help tackle corruption.
Answering questions from journalists, yesterday, in Abuja, after attending the first National Round-Table Strategy Session on Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) organised by the Nigeria Governorsâ€™ Forum with the theme, Surviving the Downturn: Refocusing on Internally Generated Revenue, Governor Uduaghan noted that with taxation, the people will enjoy the provision of water, education as well as other social infrastructure.
According to him, â€œthere is this erroneous impression that the money should only be gotten from the Federal Government, it is not true.
â€œFunds can be generated from the states from the areas of taxes and other means. The more money that comes in, the more benefits the state gets from it. It is garbage in, garbage out.
â€œThe oil companies must move their headquarters to the Niger Delta. Shell, Chevron must bring their headquarters from wherever they are to the Niger Delta because that is the area of their operations. There is land for them to put their headquarters. Peace is there for them, there is place for their children to go to school, the environment is quite okay for them.
â€œThere is no need to put their headquarters else-where. It is depriving the Niger Delta of a lot of things from the headquarters of the oil companies. It is not done any where in the world.â€
Saraki, who was represen-ted by Ebonyi State governor, Martin Elechi, noted that the event provideed them a unique opportunity to contribute to a central issue of governance, the non-oil funding of development at the local and state govern-ment levels.
He said the shocks of the global economic crisiss and the recent economic down-turn could not be forgotten in a hurry.
According to him, â€œeven as oil prices are gradually rising back up, we all faced a wake up call and we know it could happen again.
â€œIf we also follow global events on climate change and the effect that fossil fuel have on the ozone layer, countries the world over are increasingly seeking alterna-tive sources of clean fuel which would ultimately, in years to come, reduce the demand for oil.
â€œEven as we recognise that Nigeria has a rich source of clean fuel, gas, it would be shortsighted to move from one dependency to another.
â€œA related issue is the fact that dependency on a mono source of revenue hardly develops the environment in a manner that taps the collective will of the people we govern.
â€œApart from the need for sustainable sources of funding, we have to be ready to build a culture of hardwork and enterprise such that people develop a sense of self worth and wealth creation that can be exported beyond the shores of Nigeria.
â€œBy creating a sense of dependency, we have affected other areas of the economy in ways which do not support sustainable development practices or indeed achievement of the millennium development goals.
â€œThis event has, therefore, been carefully planned to focus on areas we believe are important to the people and should always be in focus: The need to rebuild taxpayers confidence, recog-nising the confluence between good leadership and revenue generation, the need to generate revenue within our various bounda-ries by continuously tapping on our economic strengths.
â€œThe recognition of the position of the state tax administration structures as one of the critical institutions in revenue generation, the need to clearly institutiona-lise the structure, system and processes in use and build an institution that represents one of the major pillars of democracy.
â€œThe role of strategy in ensuring we act in a manner best suited to the time and tools available in todayâ€™s modern world, the role information technology can play in achieving our vision.
â€œThe need to recognise that tax administration is a profession and, therefore, ensure that the skill sets of persons engaged in tax administration are such as would match any tax administrator anywhere in the world.â€