Taxing Mama Putt

I am not too surprised that many of the figures from Nigeria Statistician General, Dr Yemi Kale has brought about lots of questions from many interested Nigerians. I am one of those who finds it hard getting my head around the difference between underemployment and unemployment figures. While I think it is good to differentiate these two terms, I believe it is a ploy to undermine the state of our economy especially for the rural folks.

The conversation moved on to the need for government to find a more effective tax system that include all working adult population.

So I heard **Mama Putts were especially difficult to tax as most refused to register their companies. And someone mentioned how the likes of Mama Putt sometimes make more money than folks in white-collar jobs and yet walked freely without tax burden.

Whose fault is it if Mama Putt didn’t pay her taxes?

Mama Putt is happy to pay her fair share of tax if government is ready to educate people on the need for all-inclusive contributions and outline of how their taxes will be utilised – no gimmicks, they have had enough of that.

So this same guy came back to say Mama Putt would not pay her taxes unless she knew there are benefits in doing so.

Here I feel a bit deflated.

Why would anyone even think Nigerian Mama Putts would not want to see benefits of her contributions, that should not even be a debate at all.

This is the problem I see often with Nigerian literates, there are so many wrong assumptions made on behalf of the informal traders.

Trading on road sides or village markets isn’t to say these people are ignorant, if local schools are fixed, roads maintained etc – Mama Putt would have no trouble registering her enterprise.

Any effort to twist Peoples’ wrists to get taxes would not work long-term, Nigerians have trusted the government for too long so this time, they want the government to show they can be trusted first.

Being raised by a Mama Putt, I don’t think they are particularly hard to tax, in fact the reverse is the case. They only refused to “da esun sinu ibu” (empty pond into the ocean).



**Mama Putt – often used for roadside eatery but here used for all informal traders

Categories: Nigeria

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5 replies

  1. I’ve been listening to the crisis that has befallen Greece recently. One of the key ingredients for the fate of that country is the refusal of large sections of the populace to pay tax, because they can’t see the benefits. We can now see where such an attitude has led the nation, let us hope that Nigeria doesn’t slip down that slope of chronic suffering.
    I think people should pay their taxes, if government doesn’t deliver then take action like picketing the government offices, or get your local reps to hold a vote of no confidence. In short pay your taxes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know – we can not expect improvement without everyone contributing through taxes. I think with persistency and government putting the tax naira back into the society, people would pay and as time goes on proper tax bracket will be apportioned.


  2. HI Fola, What they do here is have a tax on your income and then when jobs became scarce they put sales taxes on goods. Sales taxes are so unfair. It means that even people who haven’t got a job have to pay a tax. Also it doesn’t make the government particularly concerned whether unemployment is a problem. Government policies can make it easy for small business to continue and it can be so cumbersome that no business want to be there in your country. So countries that don’t have sales taxes tend to have a better employment environment. If income tax is the only revenue that a Government gets, it becomes strongly motivated to have every one working.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the insights, Leslie.

      Even with income tax, government is missing out on the self-employed adults. State such as Lagos has found a way of collecting taxes from shop owners (system far from perfect but better than nothing), other states still lag behind hence the dwindling federal allocation means misery for people.

      I believe people will cooperate to contribute if they were sure their money will be put into good use.


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