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Edo 2016: An opportunity to make achievable promises

11 September 2016, 22:46 Isaac Asabor

At some major motor parks in Lagos state, bus conductors and their drivers are wont to beckon at travelers by laying claim to facilities their vehicles are not equipped with. For instance, it is not unusual to see a conductor screaming “Benin by A/C (meaning that intending travelers to Benin-city would be transported by an Air conditioned equipped vehicle). But alas! Having fallen into the lap of the transporter, the traveler would even before getting to Mowe in Ogun state become unbearably uncomfortable as a result of heat and foul smell emanating from the vehicle contrary to the claim made before he or she boarded the vehicle.  The traveler, without option, would travel the long distance without experiencing the cool and soothing breeze that an Air conditioner is characterized with.

In a similar vein, they are wont to also beckon to intending travelers by screaming “Benin by air” to the disbelief of many who already know their stock-in-trade at Lagos motor parks. However, since passengers never took them serious over their claims, they are usually not surprised when they travel through the pot-hole riddled and sometimes, circuitous Lagos-Benin-Ore Road, and not by air as deceptively announced by the bus conductor and his driver. Ostensibly as a way of making intending travelers believe that the buses that were originally manufactured to ply the roads can also fly in the air, road transport operators are wont to seemingly engage in the monkey business of issuing branded tickets to passengers, enter their names in the manifest book, and allocate seats to them to tally with the serial numbers on the manifest. 

Some of the established transporters even go as far offering take-away foods which the payment for the ticket has already taken care of to each of the passengers.

Without any iota of exaggeration, you will agree with this writer that the foregoing services are reminiscent of the services obtainable from virtually all airline operators. As service delivery is by each passing day getting better, road transporters are no doubt emulating their counterparts in the airline sector of the transport industry. Unfortunately, no matter the level of deceit or packaging, buses do not fly in the air. 

Interestingly, as road transporters are wont to promise passengers what they do not have, so also are some of the political parties that are accredited to participate in the September 10 governorship election in Edo state are telling white lies to the people by making promises they quite know they would not be able to fulfill.

To many political observers, telling white lies during an electioneering campaign is normal. The erroneous belief is in agreement with Lucy Hale’s quote that says “But little white lies here and there is human nature. Everybody does that.”  However, the erroneous belief is out of tune with Margaret Keane’s postulation that says “Don’t tell lies, ever. No matter – not even little lies.”

At this juncture, it is germane to opine that members of the campaign committees of most political parties in the state are by now becoming nervously and anxiously expectant while the literary drivers and conductors of their respective campaign train are telling white lies on seemingly unachievable promises.  The situation, no doubt, are somewhat forcing most of them to make the promises they are likely not capable of fulfilling.

I must confess that I was compelled to openly express this view through this medium  after reading a piece written by a prolific writer, Mr. Dan Owegie who is  a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State. In the piece titled “Boarding the Obaseki, Shaibu campaign train” and posted on the online edition of the Nigerian Observer dated July 25, 2016, he wrote:  “This is why  I have repeatedly said that history will remember Oshiomhole in Edo State long after he would have left office. Today, the PDP is telling Edo people that citizens would not be made to pay their taxes. This is a retrogressive promise, because even Jesus Christ paid his tax and instructed his followers to pay their taxes as well. Tax is important if we have to sustain the tempo of development Oshomhole has provided, more so  in the face of dwindling nationally shared oil revenue and competing  social and developmental needs in Edo State. Oshiomhole has obviously opened Edo people’s eyes to behold what a responsible government can do for its citizens.”

Without literarily flexing my intellectual muscle on the expediency of the payment of taxes by Edolites under a new government come November 2016, it is germane to say that Lagos State, since 1999 had been a reference point on how taxation can help in developing a state.  With a professional background steeped in highly efficient private sector audit, the state under the administration of former governor, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, aka Jagaban, was quick to realize the need to depend less on federal allocation by shoring up the revenue profile of the state. This feat was achieved through William Babatunde Fowler, who was the Tax Collector-in-Chief for Lagos State Government. Fowler, who is now the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, under his leadership used the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue to  achieve a sharp increase in internally generated revenue from an average of N3.6. billion per month in January 2006, to an average of about N20.5 billion per month in 2013.

With the better understanding of governance which the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Godwin Obaseki is imbued with, he has vowed to abolish all forms of extortion in the name of tax when voted into office.

He recently made the declaration in a meeting with members of a social-political group, Edo Mass Movement where he expressed regret over the manner issues affecting taxation have been politicized in the state He added at the meeting that  there is no double taxation in the state but extortion.

According to him, the extortion is perpetrated by certain agencies, particularly those representing local governments.

Obaseki advocated the creation of a fair tax system because of the burden that exists from the fact that there is only a negligible percentage of taxpayers in the tax net. He assured that when voted into office that his government  would create an environment  that will bring more tax payers into the tax net in order to ameliorate the burden on a few.

He noted that that tax is very important for every government, and said that achieving over 90 per cent of internally generated revenue from it, that governments can easily meet the developmental needs of the state. He did not promise to do away with taxation as the other contestants in PDP was reportedly said to have promised. As I write this piece, I am still bemused on how a state like Edo state can be administered in the absence of taxation.

To me, politicians should not see the occupation of the state government house on Osadebay Avenue as a do or die affair. Promises they know are achievable should be made, and not unachievable promises. Edo state and the 18 local government areas should be seen in this era as the bigger picture instead of that of individuals and members of their families. 

- MyNews24

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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