Edo can generate more than N2.8b revenue monthly
Sir: A news report on the front page of The Nigerian Observer of Tuesday, May 4, 2021 came with a caption, ‘‘Edo deploys big data in tax administration as monthly IGR climbs to N2.8 billion.’’ The rider of that caption also said that IGR in Edo ‘‘ranks second behind Lagos in number of taxpayers with TIN.’’ Details of the report on page 2 of The Nigerian Observer indicated that the assertion was made by a government official, Nidu Inneh, chairman of the Edo State Internal Revenue Service, in a paper titled, Taxation, Rule of Law, and Voluntary Compliance – Role of the Nigeria bar Association at a programme organised by the Nigerian Bar Association in Benin City. According to the report, Inneh said that ‘‘our individual data capture has grown from 160,000 in 2017 to 515,453 as at May 2021. Edo ranks second behind Lagos in total number of taxpayers with TIN.’’
A few days before this publication, another statement was ascribed to Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki during the May Day celebrations at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium. The statement was reported by Daily Trust of May 2, 2021, with the title, ‘‘Only 200,000 people pay taxes in Edo – Obaseki.’’ Daily Trust quoted Obaseki as saying: ‘‘It’s unfair for only workers to be paying taxes. Out of the almost two million taxpayers in Edo, not more 200,000 people are paying taxes.’’
Either the state government is lying about generating N2.8 billion monthly, or that it actually generates more than that, but is being economical with the actual figures. This analysis begins from the claim made by Obaseki that only 200,000 workers pay taxes. If only 200,000 workers are paying taxes in Edo, how does that add up to N2.8 billion monthly? In the light of the death of industries like the Bendel Brewery, Ethiope Publishing and Edo Line, the only industries viable enough seem to be private schools and the socials – travel abroad, transportation, etc. The hotels are struggling and so is the tourism industry. Even with what the Edo government gets from the formal sector, the monies don’t get anywhere near the figures being touted by the Obaseki government (almost N30 billion annually).
What the government can do now to rev its economy is by resuscitating some of the dead industries that once made Bendel tick, generate billions for Edo State and employ a quarter of those youths seeking greener pastures through the deserts. Counterparts of these industries in Delta State are up and running.
Edo State has no business going cap in hand to Abuja for printed monies. The state is like a mini Nigeria, with rich soil, temperate weather and with some of the most hardworking people there once were.
Bob Majiri Oghene Etemiku is editor-in-chief of Bob Majiri Oghene Communications, publishers of WADONOR, cultural voice of the Niger Delta.
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