Dr. Louis Brown Ogbeifun

Accredited Mediator | Certified Professional Manager and Trainer in Workplace Conflicts


Rethinking Taxes and Levies: A Call for Efficiency and Fairness

Taxes and levies are ways of internally generating revenues for infrastructural development, and a country can only develop with them. There are two things every citizen cannot avoid in their earthly journeys; they are taxes and death.

To reduce the burdens of taxes and levies on citizens, the developed nations have found a way of getting their citizens to abide by the laws governing taxes and levies without coercion by providing fundamental needs in accordance with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The needs include the safety of lives and properties (security, societal order, stability), employment that would guarantee physiological needs (food, sleep, maintaining a family, and promotion of things that would engender love among citizens (equity, fairness, access to justice). Others include good roads, which would allow farmers to commute with their goods to areas of supply, and access to uninterrupted energy, which would aid citizens to pursue vocations that would put food on their table.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (PBAT) and his kitchen cabinet know that the easiest way to increase the internally generated revenue of a country is to capture all taxable citizens and put systems in place to collect their taxes. Secondly, they know that manualization of the tax system permits the interphase of people, which allows leakages and is corruption-prone and, therefore, must put in place appropriate technology to gather the tax harvests. For example, Lagos State is working because of taxes and levies. Be it in roads, traffic management, trades, industry, and commerce, a typical law-abiding Lagosian will teach anybody the art of tax management. Ask any company in Lagos, and they will tell you they face the excruciating pains of multiple taxation.

What is happening in Lagos is also happening in other states. Other states have tax collections. Unfortunately, other states prefer to contract the collection of their revenues to political pipelines, who would instead use law enforcement agents as shields to chase people about in markets, parks, roads, etc.

Whereas Lagos State has efficient rail, water, and land transport systems, many others have nothing to show for what they collect from the people because of the systemic leakages. I expect the Lagos experience to be replicated at the Federal level. And the drumbeat commenced as expected. For example, in June, the Federal Government Joint Tax Board introduced a levy of one thousand Naira on every car to verify that the motorist owns the car. Absurdly, this will be done annually.

As much as I support the Government’s imposition of taxes and levies, it should not brazenly force citizens to pay to verify that they own the cars they drive. Why would anybody think of verifying a genuine proof of ownership every year?

We know how this thing work. Once it is accepted, it becomes statutory and it could attract annual increases that may at a point be more expensive than the tokunbo car bought twenty years ago.

Every car owner before now has proof of ownership, which was issued with other vehicle papers at the point of purchase. Though the levy to me is improper, motorists in a state like Delta, especially in Warri, shall find driving suffocating with this new levy. For example, one can hardly drive in Warri without meeting a special task force checking vehicle particulars and Vehicle Inspection Officers also checking for the same vehicle papers. Besides, police stop, and search units are everywhere. Consequently, a motorist might have been stopped five times within the Warri metropolis daily, making driving a very frustrating endeavor. Citizens have inalienable rights to certain freedoms, and the Government must be concerned that those rights and liberties are almost nonexistent.

In Lagos, no state official spikes tires for over-speeding, overrunning red lights, or breaching other traffic rules as we have in many states. The day one goes to the vehicle authorities for a change of expired motor particulars is the day your car will be impounded and the fines paid. That looks more like what we should expect in all the states. So, the first point to start is the digitalization of motor registry operations, which would eliminate these cumbersome stop-and-search time-wasting endeavors on our roads.

I suggest that car owners with proof of ownership for their cars as of June 2023 should not be subjected to any verification levy.

1. Brand-new car owners should use the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin, the bill of sale from the dealer, which establishes the buyer as the legal owner of the car and pays the prescribed fees at the motor registry to get proof of ownership.

2. The new proof of ownership template should contain some spaces at the back for future buyers to affix their names.

3. With every change, the photocopy of the old proof of ownership should be affixed to an affidavit and a police report, paid the necessary fees, and processed through the motor registry for a new proof of ownership document.

As you read this post, it will be nice to have your feedback on the new one thousand Naira verification proof of ownership levy.

Grace and peace!!!