By Wasiu Babalola
It is a fact that, of all the necessities in human existence, peace and tranquility, as well as the well-being of the citizenry takes an uncompromising stance in the domain of other necessities. For efficient provision of these necessities, there is need to equip a selected or elected few whom the people can entrust to manage their commonly owned properties on the basis of contractual agreement. This of course, gave birth to what we are referring to as the present day government because the very few are entrusted to efficiently manage the essential affairs of the society at large.
Meanwhile, the contractual agreement entered into by both parties (the government and the governed) are in form of (i) governing on a periodic basis with the aim of providing those necessities that can never be efficiently provided by individuals for themselves and (ii) it is the responsibility of the governed to fund the government through the peanut taxes they are charged to pay to the government so as to allow it to fulfill its own part of the deal in terms of the provision of security and the well-being of the citizenry. It is therefore pertinent to deduce from this fact that, this contractual agreement between the government and the governed is in form of ‘give and take’, that is, both parties have civic responsibilities to offer each other as being entrenched in the contract.
What does this implies? The ability of any government to turn mountains to valleys is depends on the readiness of the governed (people) to pay their taxes.
It is unfortunate today that many taxable men and women are oblivious and totally unaware of their civic responsibilities as regards tax payment. Many even point accusing fingers towards government for not performing up to their expectations feigning ignorance that it as a result of their failure to perform their civic responsibility.
Referring to some advanced countries of the world like; the United States of America, Great Britain, Canada, Japan and the likes, it may be very easy for someone to commit a grave offence and get away with it, provided that, such a person has a substantial evidence to justify his/her deed. But the reverse is the case on tax evasion or failure of eligible tax payers to pay as and when due. There is no jungle justice to this, it is an abomination. But here in Nigeria, the exact opposite is the case. Tax evasion and non tax compliance and the likes are the order of the day.
The truth is that no meaningful development can take place without people imbibing the habit of tax payment. Likewise, people need poor sensitisation and reorientation so they will develop the right inner mind frame to see tax compliance as and when due as their civic responsibilities. This would surely contribute to their comfortable pride status. Using Great Britain and the United State of America where taxes have been the most stable source of their financial power as a case study, despite the fact that, almost all nooks and crannies of human activities are taxed in those countries, still people are never reluctant to go there. The salient boiling question here is that, why are the people still trooping to these places despite heavy taxes levied on them? We can quickly infer from this question that, people don’t mind being heavily taxed there, once they know that whatever goes around surely comes around. They are at the receiving end of all benefits accruable to tax payment.
Dating back to Western region administration, when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was at the helms of affair posterity will never forget his landmark achievements especially on how this hero was able to live on tax to turn the whole Western Region into cynosure of all eyes. Having this as a point of reference, we can have an inductive conclusion that, the only way to reach the peak of development is through Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) with taxes as its impetus.
The State of Osun is already on the pathway to development through all the developmental projects that are ongoing or other that have been fully executed under the present administration. These achievements are even enough to serve as catalysts that should without hesitation propel us to complying this civic duty and several others.
To this end, it is high time we woke up to this clarion call and jettison any untoward attitude to tax payment since we are always at the receiving end of its benefits. Let us uphold the doctrine of Omoluabi by doing it right; pay your tax, it is your civic responsibility.
- Babalola is the Information Officer, Osun Internal Revenue Service.