By Henry Umoru
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has said Nigeria must return to its strict tax policy which was applicable before the oil boom of the 70s, 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 the Federal Government must deepen their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) base as this is what was obtainable 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, yesterday, Oshiomhole said, “central to every debate in 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 18 years and above paid a fixed tax. When villagers met at the village square to discuss and you made a bold statement, another villager would challenge you to shut up because you had not paid your tax. He would ask you, not to talk where men were talking because you had not paid your tax.
“Villagers used to recognize that not to pay tax was not an option. And for you not to pay tax, you must show a certificate or evidence that you were ill or bed-ridden, and therefore you could not work.
“So even villagers were paying tax. The school in my village, under Awolowo’s Free Education programme, was free to the people, but funded by adults who paid tax. And when the tax man was coming, if you had not paid your tax, you just found your way into the bush and once you were arrested , they took you to the barracks and you were charged appropriately.’’