Not quite a month that Nigeria got its new administration's Minister of Roads, Housing and Power than the new government via its minister
announced road toll taxation on the frangible Nigerian masses.
Making this announcement Tuesday was new Minister Raji
Fashola, the former governor of Lagos state. Raji Fashola is a man who can
perhaps be described as somewhere between a US Republican wannabe and a an
I am speaking frankly here.
The first sights of the new Minister was on our
pockets, or rather, in our pockets. Money from us masses to maintain roads for
us and provide an eternal supply of income for them through their affiliated
taxation companies. His first major statement on resumption of office was
brutal and almost angry or perhaps characterized by disgust and irritation:
"we must tax you, we will tax you, we have to tax you to maintain the
roads," he repeated severally.
-Look somewhere else, do not look in our pockets. They are empty-
Nigeria's broke and broken masses have dragged themselves
through over 30 years of harsh, exploitative and oppressive governance with the
nation's commonwealth freely looted and scrounge infrastructure built with
billions of dollars in oil earnings. The Military Junta and the party they
established, the PDP, crippled the soul of the nation for these long and hard
years, driving the masses to vote for the party of "change" for a
breath of fresh air, but as a welcome gift to Nigerians who expected from the
new government, a bit of respite and for once, opportunity for the masses and
moderate restriction on the cabal, the Buhari government has announced road
taxes via tolls as their reward.
I wrote critically about the then planned institution of
these tolls in November of 2013 when the then brutal Jonathan government that
misplaced 90% of Nigeria's earnings dared to attempt it. In that article I pointed out the recurrent labour union
protests that had delayed for several years, the attempt by the South African
government to institute similar toll-taxation that South
African peoples called, "Highway Robbery."
What has changed since then? We have a new government, well
partially, but have conditions improved for Nigerians? Are we already living,
buying and spending better than during the Jonathan era, that we can now be
drained of additional income?
-Shouldn't we first enjoy the new government's accountability, sense and seriousness?-
Have we yet seen the benefit of taxation and enjoyed government
accountability? Have our earnings, security and lifestyle appreciated? Are we
expected to simply say that since the mantle changed hands, even with dozens of
the same old faces and names still in all chambers of power, that we are now
ready for the new government to levy us, most still living under a
-dollar-a-day, while we have not yet had a chance to see, test and appraise
Does Nigeria not have money? Can someone tell us what we have
and how it is spent before they decided to slam further taxes on us?
-How about taxation for private jets?-
What about additional taxation on the wealthy first? Why does
our new Minister of Power, Roads and Housing not think of or suggest taxation
of Private jets before he plans additional burdens on an already crippled lower
class? Do you know how much taxation on private jets will fetch in Nigeria? Do
the wealthy travel by road? I ask respectfully, when last did the new Minister
of Housing drive from Lagos to Abuja?
There are so many ways to tax the private jet club wealthy to
pay for the upkeep of the roads. Why not start from there? Why not get rid of
the Senate? That will free enough billions to pay for these roads. Why must the
masses always be the ones to pay the price?
Where is the value from billions taxed from the road tolls from
back in the day? Should Nigeria's government not account for those taxes our
fathers paid first before instituting new on us?
I will like to ask, if we now pay for our road use, what and in
what way do we poor masses benefit from the government of Nigeria and the
billions in oil revenue? What does our government do for us? Forget oil
subsidies, we pay at the pump about as much as they pay in the US for the
gallons of petrol we pump in our cars [NG
$0.84: USA $0.97]. So what use is our government to us and where does our
oil billions go other than financing the lavish lifestyles of the government
workers, National Assembly workers, Ministers and the like? Seriously?
Don't get me wrong, tolls may be useful, but not until the
government has done other things and demonstrated accountability. Not until
then should we be looked at as juicy lambs to be devoured by these relentless
-Who will collect these road taxes? My guess...-
This brings the question or necessary comment: what companies
will be in charge of the road toll gates? Will this be organized by the
government or by private companies collecting on the government's behalf as we
have it in Fashola's Lagos. I bet the Fashola-Tinubu cabal are falling over
each other for this juicy opportunity to feed off of Nigerian masses for
eternity. Is it Dr. Tunji whose Deux company billed Lagos state almost
$900,000 for two boreholes, that will be in charge of setting up the road
tax kiosks? We are still waiting for Minister Fashola, who was then
executive accountant of Lagos state, to respect us enough to show us how and
why his friend built two boreholes at 200xs the average price. Will our media
help by taking pictures of these extravagant pumps to show us their complexity
and lacing in gold, or they will continue to be cowardly, biased and
hypocritical, pouncing on Stella Oduah for a less grievous embezzlement, but
pretending not to notice Fashola's?
So you see why we are worried with the toll taxation. I bet it
will not be government officials collecting the taxes from our poor, hapless
motor park commuters and market men and women, it will be some Fashola-Tinubu
affiliated company that will be raking this massive revenue stream and
taking 50% of earnings before handing over what's left to our nation's coffer.
A task that the government and Federal employees can and should handle as happens
in the United States and if not, then we do not want it. Nigerians must protest
that no private company takes even 0.01% of this taxation of the masses. They
do not deserver to drink our blood on a platter; seriously!
-Just as we predicted of him-
I had predicted and warned against the very policies that
Minister Fashola is opening up his tenure with. In my greeting article penned
on his appointment, "To Nigeria's new Minister of Power, Works And Housing",
published November 13th, I said,
"It is not
poverty or the lack of power and houses that is behind Boko Haram, MEND,
Ombatse and Radio Biafra and other terror organisations, no, as I have written
expansively on in the past, it is Institutional Disenfranchisement: the
robbing of poor Paul to feed rich Peter, the impoverishing and deportation of
the poor to pave wealth and comfortable accommodation for the rich that is
behind the unrest. Maiduguri peoples lived in huts without power and were
satisfied. Their problem did not come from the lack of, but the wickedness of
the extortionist cabal."
I pleaded that Fashola think of the poor before thinking of the
Cabal. I advised that if development comes at a risk to the wellbeing of the
poor then we do not want it. After all, what happened to all the buildings
built in Syria? Were they not destroyed in days? Arguably, Assad and Gaddafi
forgot the Human element along the way. The Muslim Prophet predicted that in
the last days, great
cities will be destroyed in a day. If we continue to
disenfranchise the poor then we will be the ones whose towns will be destroyed
in days. Is this what we want? Are we not tired of carrying last?
Like I mentioned in that article, if the building of
infrastructure comes at the price of the demolishing of human wellbeing and
permanent enslavery and bondage of the poor then we do not need it. We do
not need it.
Fashola, do you hate us? Give us a break already, comm'on.
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