By Gabriel Ewepu, Abuja
Following moves by the Federal Government to reintroduce tollgates on federal highways, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Wednesday, kicked against the decision.
Reacting to the planned return of tollgates, the Convener, Concerned Nigerians a CSO, Deji Adeyanju, described the plan as anti-people policy and said it would be resisted.
Adeyanju said the government does not mean well for the Nigerian people following increment of income tax, Value Added Tax, VAT, stamp duty, and others, therefore should not go on to return tollgates on federal highways.
He said: “If Buhari’s government has its way they will tax dead bodies in the grave. From stamp duty to increase in income tax, Value Added Tax, VAT and everything taxable, and the only thing they refused to tax is themselves the politicians. They have enthroned the culture of waste in the country year in year out.
“This were the people that told us in 2015 that they will cut the cost of government and deceived Nigerians that they will sell all presidential jets and leave only a few, but you can see today the National Assembly is buying new cars for N 5.5 billion.
“Why do we need to have tollgates or reintroduce tolls in dead traps? Roads that have no significant value on the Nigerian people and take the lives of the Nigerian people daily.
“The roads have ever been worst in the history of this country and you begin to hear budgetary allocations year-in-year-out. If you continue to tax the poor you will tax them to death. If you will continue to tax the people they will die.
“Nigeria has been declared the world’s capital of poverty and why more hurdles been placed for Nigerians, and tolls on roads that bad and not working. Not as if they put the tollgates on these roads and they will take the proceeds generated from them to repair the roads. No! They are looking for money to fund the expensive “lives of politicians. This is where we say this is an anti-people government. They are out to kill businesses.”
He also advised the government to ‘bury’ the idea. “Government should bury the idea. It makes no sense at all. It is anti-people. There is no even need to contemplate such an idea”, he stated. Also reacting to the move by the government was the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, and Head of Transparency International (Nigeria)Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani).
“One of the major challenges we have in Nigeria is lack of policy consistency and seriousness to implement a policy for the development and well being of Nigerians, you will recall that the previous administration have introduced tollgate after wasting tax-payers money they abandoned the policy.
“Obviously there is a huge corruption and mismanagement of the revenue as that some public officials were stealing. Again the roads are not fixed”, Rafsanjani added.
However, he said, “Federal government must work with the state governments to work out modalities on how to manage and sure that the Federal Roads maintenance and the agency responsible for collecting the tall gates work together.
“But more importantly they must introduce electronic gates pass to avoid some people stealing the money. This would ensure more accountability just like payment of electricity bill, telephone bills etc Otherwise they will continue to print fake receipts with no records
“Again, the money generated must be used to repair the road and there must public disclosure on the revenue generated.”
Meanwhile, the Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, DNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, described the move by the government as parasitic approach and preying on the citizenry with excessive taxation.
“While Nigeria is broke, the ruling elites have refused to cut down on their excesses. The Buhari regime cannot finance the yearly budget without borrowing. While the borrowing windows available are insufficient to meet the profligate spending of the administration, it has elected to adopt a parasitic approach, preying on the people with excessive taxation for survival.
“The latest bid to introduce tollgates on our dilapidated roads is not only sinful and wicked it is economically unviable. It can only breed stealing and monumental corruption, as the current government lacks the capacity to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of technologically driven and non-technological initiatives.
“The factors that led to the dismantling of previous tollgates are still very much with us and nothing has changed. Reinventing a failed project is not in the interest of Nigerians.
“It is another exploitation of the common man and an addition to the people’s burden. From a shoddy increase in VAT to frivolous bank charges and now to tollgates. It is unfortunate that we Nigerians have ourselves under the current economic yoke where the people are being chastised with economic scorpions”, Atoye stated.