By Sunny Ikhioya
IT is not a privilege for a government to provide basic education, health, security, infrastructure, freedom of movement and expression. It is a responsibility. It is also the responsibility of the citizens to pay taxes, so that these institutions can be maintained. It is a give and take as both sides are obligated to each other. If one side has not played its part, it should expect a reciprocal consequence from the other.
A government that wants change must first set change processes in motion and the citizens will follow accordingly. Getting the citizens to pay taxes is as simple as ABC, but government must play its part.
The Delta state is asking for a focused and pragmatic leadership, the one that will put the people first. Workers are being owed several months salaries, meanwhile the politicians who are in government their allowances regualrly. The question then arises, is government not supposed to be a service? Is it not a sacrifice? Why do our public office holders put their personal interests over and above that of the people’s ? Why are they paying themselves allowances, when the people have not collected theirs? The two sides must work together before any meaningful development can be achieved, if not our bad situation will remain the same.
I have noticed in recent times the Delta state government’s drive to increase revenue, using all kinds of officials and parastatals. I do not know how well they are succeeding. All I know is that they want to generate revenue from taxes the way Lagos state is doing but, they have not bothered to ask Lagos state how it is been done. When you are sincere to the people, they reciprocate in kind.
Lagos state did not become successful in collecting taxes overnight.What you see now is the result of a properly planned and executed mission. We show the people what we are doing with their money and they will be willing to pay their taxes. That is the thing to do. That is where Delta state should start from. Let the people see physically what you are doing and they will support you. Those in government may not agree with this. The truth is that there is disgruntled residents everywhere especially from the Warri area of the state and the government must do something fast to change this perception.
There is no government presence in Warri and I can say same for other towns in the state. How much does it cost to fix potholes? In this era of solar electricity, why are the street lights not functioning? What will it take to rid the town of garbage and filth? What programmes have been put in place to engage the youths so that they are removed from the streets?
We must start by doing the simple things first. If we cannot engage construction giant Julius Berger, we can at least bring back the Public Works department, PWD,to maintain the roads with very simple budget and an officer to be held accountable in case of failure. That will not only help our transport system but will also provide jobs for the citizens.
We cannot continue to run seminars and workshops for the youths without seeing the practicals on ground. Create a very viable youth ministry, with enough funding, with practical plans and measureable yardstick and you will see changes in our youths.
Delta state is too filled with restive youths and it is the responsibility of government to channel them to positive end. Lagos state use to have the highest number of touts in the country but today, they have been organised for productive purposes.
It is not a rocket science, a governor must be bold enough to appoint capable hands who will perform and enhance his government and not be caged by political considerations. Again, Lagos state is a good case study. Check out the quality of commissioners in the state, their profiles and follow their contributions to governance is something Delta state can emulate when next the government is making such appointments.
The power of the governor is enormous, unless you have one that is not prepared to use it. Lagos state showed the people that their money is being used judiciously and the people responded by paying taxes. The Delta state government must begin to show the people that they are working for them and they will reciprocate in kind.
*Mr. Ikhioya, www.southsouthecho.com