Taxing Nigeria

Most of Nigeria’s public officials are jokers in the way they present their ideas to the public. Often times, it is half-baked, they don’t feel any obligations to explain their plans as to how they plan to lessen the effect of the new plan on the population. The sad part is that, they usually get away with it because theirs is one way radio.

Nigeria is looking for ways to generate more income but they are not willing to do anything differently that will benefit citizens.

Mr. Tunde Fowler, Federal Inland Revenue Service boss is the latest joker by hinting that Nigerians will soon be asked to present their tax certificate if they require a passport. How does that even make any sense?

So the best way to get people to pay taxes is when they intend to leave the country? Most people only get their passport if they intend to travel out of the country otherwise there really is no point wasting money on a piece of booklet.

This man is a joker because if we put the number of Nigerians needing passports in context, it is very small compared to the number of Nigeria adults that the government needs to convince to pay their fair share to taxation.

“These things are normal all over the world and it would help us to serve Nigerians and Nigeria better.” Mr Fowler

First of all this statement from Mr Fowler is not accurate – I am not sure which ‘world’ Mr Fowler was referring here. This is the type of rubbish they furnish Nigerians with just because of the few years he spent working/studying in the States, Mr Fowler would have to name that country that requires tax certificate before issuing their citizens travel documents.

Second of all, no, people like this coming with insane proposition such as this don’t work to better Nigeria. If one wants to better Nigeria, it should not be that hard to highlight what the new tax will be used for – recurrent expenditure? I think so too.

He can advise the government to cut spending on luxuries – that is serving Nigeria better.

Given the bottom line is to increase tax revenues, one would have thought the goal should be to increase the number of adult tax payers in the country rather than going after the small unrealistic target.

If Nigerians in a few months have to show tax clearance for overseas travel documents, rest assured that Nigeria passport offices around the country now will start issuing tax certificate at a price – the money will not reach the government, leaving Fowler to pick another target.

Courageous woman

Moremi Ajasoro is one of the handful of Yoruba women whose story has been passed down as a courageous and beautiful woman of her time. She was married into the royal family and helped fight invaders off Ile Ife.

What was significant about Moremi Ajasoro was that she allowed herself to be taking away by the invaders, and was married to their king. During her time with the *Ugbo king, she was skilful and lived by their rules, yet worked towards her primary goal of gathering intelligence about the people who constantly terrorise her town.

When the invaders came, we learnt that Ife people at the time often take to their heels as they thought they were being raided by Iwin/Anjonu (aliens) impossible to defeat with physical weapons because of their costumes.

Moremi eventually learnt that it was indeed humans beneath the costumes and that the costumes were made of dried grass.

Moremi Ajasoro was not only courageous, she was a loyal woman who kept her promise of returning to her people once she knew how to defeat the enemy.

Moremi eventually escaped back to Ife, briefed her people and gave tips to prepare materials for making quick fire to burn the highly inflammable dried grass the attackers wore to disguise.

Apparently, before Moremi embarked on her mission, she pledged to sacrifice her only son Oluorogbo to Esimirin, a river goddess if she was successful in her quest – and she did. At that time human sacrifice was quite common and for one to let go of their only child for the sake of her people was seen as the greatest selfless act.

Given our history is largely oral, sometimes it is hard to separate myths, legends and true stories, however, Moremi’s story and its core message has always been consistent over the years as a courageous, beautiful and loyal woman.

Ooni Ogunwusi recently unveiled a giant 42ft high statue to honour Moremi Ajasoro on the same spot the princess lived at centuries ago. The statue looks quite impressive. I do hope that there is a plaque and perhaps booklet detailing more accurate information on the courageous woman with dates.

Thank you to Oba Enitan Ogunwusi and his team for walking the talk.

Just a little thought though, looking at this statue, I am a bit disappointed that if a photo of it was taken and shown to me, I wouldn’t have guessed she was a Yoruba woman let alone Moremi Ajasoro – we are at different time now, accurate representation of an important historical figure such as Moremi deserves better than a cheap replica of Statue of Liberty – it is a bad taste, sorry Oba.

I would have preferred to see Moremi Ajasoro to be in a Iro and buba with Oja strapped to her waist because that is what she was likely wearing at the time and the same style is what most of our women wear today.

Having said that, there is nothing wrong with copying a piece of artwork that one admires, calling it Moremi Statue of Liberty is what makes this one a bit tasteless.

Again, sorry Oba.

Overall, this project is a much appreciated one.

 

*Ugbo is located in Ondo state 

God’s soldiers on the loose

I first read the case of Bridget Agbahime a few weeks ago. She was a trader in Kano killed in broad day light because she said something offensive to the God above.

Recently the five suspects arrested in June for Bridget’s murder were released by the court in Kano as the court didn’t think there is a case to be answered.

Given that many of our stories always have k-leg, it is hard to know what to believe. However, in this case, someone who happened to be christian lost her life to a group of Muslim market traders. Nigeria leaders especially the southerners agreed to Sharia Law perhaps because they thought it will only apply to the northerners, but now we have seen many instances whereby this is not the case, heaven knows how many people that have been unlawfully killed that we will never know of. Irony of this is that everyone suffers when a region is allowed to take a life based on religious laws.

Maybe, rather than blaming the Muslims up north for their religious stance, we should turn the table to the lawmakers who have failed miserably in their duty to carefully analyse laws that infringes on human rights.

Sahara Reporters interview with Mr Agbahime provided clearer insights to the events leading to Mrs Agbahime death.

Reading through the interview, Mrs Agbahime has been having issues with Dauda Ahmed, a co-tenant at the market. Dauda, according to Mr Agbahime is fond of doing his pre-prayer washing (aluwala as we call it in Yoruba) in front of Bridget’s shop – who wouldn’t be upset by that? I can’t imagine someone doing that infront of my shop three times or more during the market hours without having a word with him.

Apparently, local elders and owner of the shops were involved in making sure that their dispute is resolved in a peaceful manner but all to no avail.

It was a case of words throwing between two tenants who disagreed on mannerism – one clearly has issue of respecting the other. Only God knows the exact words that Bridget said that drove Dauda off the wall.

What I found sickening in this case was that Mr Agbahime said he has lived in Kano for 45 years, and Mrs Agbahime for 34years (assuming his wife only moved to Kano after marriage). After killing Bridget, the God’s warriors went ahead to vandalised the family’s car and destroyed their two shops – what a life we live in Nigeria?

Yet, many Nigerians think Trump is their biggest problem? If a Nigerian lived in America for 45 years and has engaged in a lawful business and a good member of their community such as this family (husband is a pastor), I am fairly sure this case would have attracted more attention amongst Nigerians by now.

Both Nigeria major religions are cancer to the society, one is going to kill everyone with different opinion in the name of Allah, the other is squeezing life out of their members – their rewards is in heaven.

I do hope that one day, the constitution will be reviewed so that people can live life for moment with judiciary system being impartial when it comes to religion related crime, until then innocent people like Bridget Agbahime will continue to suffer as more God’s soldiers are on the loose with their paper-thin skin.

Condolences to the family, maybe justice will be served if enough people including the overrated leaders realise this is just unfair, nobody deserves to die in such a manner in a community she has lived in and contributed to for decades.

Money ritual killers sentenced

Apart from jungle justice whereby perpetrators get dragged into the streets to have a taste of their own medicine, I can not recall anytime in recent times that a ritualist has ever been duly prosecuted in Nigeria.

I am elated for Jacob Ajayi’s family that at least they can have some sort of closure on his case. The story goes that Mr Ajayi’s body was found severed in a septic tank somewhere in Ilesa.

“…the headless body of the victim was later recovered from a septic tank with his genitals and other parts of his body missing.”

When it comes to human body rituals, body parts missing means they were removed for sacrifice purposes and in turn someone somewhere has been promised of enormous wealth due to this.

How does this even make any sense in 2016? Well, the murderers have their gullible clients, the sad part is that they often get away with killing unsuspecting victims, so the money making-medicine man often had nothing to loose.

The four criminals were all given 14 years jail time and death sentence by Osun State High Court presided by Justice Kudrat Akano – I didn’t even know death sentence is still a thing in the SW.

I hope in the coming days we have more information leading up to the death of Mr Ajayi.

According to Punch Newspaper, this case happened in 2012, it must have been such a long journey for the family to get justice in 2016. Maybe Ajay can finally rest in peace now.

Now I wonder if this case is related to the recent clip going round about money ritual as discovery of the ritual den was around the same time, nonetheless I think this is a great development to show people killing innocent humans for money is criminal. The clip shows how these human parts money ritual works, often in an isolated piece of land to avoid attention.

I hope Osun State will continue to oust these criminals within.

When trust is broken, everyone suffers

After the supreme judges’ homes were raided in the middle of the night a few weeks ago by the District of State Services (DSS) due of allegations of corruption, initially I thought that was a bit outrageous that  people in the highest office of judiciary in the land were rough-handled in that manner.

Maybe thorough investigations should have been done, maybe we should have adopted Anas Aremeyaw Anas of Ghana’s strategy – go undercover to collect evidence that supports arrests. Hindsight is 20/20.

Then I am thinking why is it that whenever anyone in a public office was arrested for alleged fraud/corruption or any offence for that matter people tend to cite democracy? Didn’t we have democratic government when these people acted as if they were above the law?

Often our stories sound like movie scripts, with or without unpredictable ending. The truth is that if all Nigerians who have been hurt by the lack of dependable justiciary system had to give testimonies, I doubt anyone would pity the arrested judges whose houses were raided unannounced.

We all have different stories. Here’s one that affected my family when my uncle was arrested in the mid 80s. My father must find money to bail out his little brother from the police station. He didn’t know why his brother would steal or what he had stolen, all he was told was that my uncle was arrested while he was robbing someone’s house.

Our judiciary is this bad because people who have been entrusted with power have long been compromised, starting from the top to bottom.

When my father made it to the local police station, he was told by the officer on duty that his brother can not be released as his case was a ‘special one’. He was able to talk to his brother briefly, he had been beaten so much that he could barely recognised him.

So he had to find a lawyer, still had no clue as to the offence his brother was arrested for. Luckily a local lawyer at the time was a very good person. He promised to help so my dad went to the village, leased his cocoa and my uncle’s cocoa farms for three years (not big farm at all, but a big deal for him). Lawyer’s fee was secured so made a visit to my uncle to get the truth of the story.

Police officer provided a bag of sand, something about 1kg as what my uncle had stolen to get him in trouble.

Stealing 1kg of sand sounds like a complete absurdity to get one beaten let alone to call police on one, but reality of Nigeria in most cases is that many things that people, ordinary people get killed, or imprisoned for make no logical sense.

This is what formed my opinion about Nigeria justice system – often with cash to dispense, anyone can get away with just about anything, most of our law enforcers have a price they can’t say no to.

Wondered what my uncle’s offence was? Two years prior to this time, my uncle traveled out of town to work on a big construction project. He had a relationship with a lady. When the project finished, they both returned to town, said lady went to her parents’ house where my uncle paid her visits. Unknown to my uncle, the lady’s ex-husband had spotted my uncle and he was furious that his ex-wife left him for a no-name guy in town. The lady was pregnant so it was a bit too late but the ex was determined to lay his anger on my uncle.

On one of the visits, a group of 20-something year olds descended on my uncle, beat him mercilessly, the leader went ahead to call the police to put my uncle away without accepting bail – his intention was to get him to jail.

Although the truth of my uncle’s offence feels like the biggest insult and injustice ever, my father was just really happy his brother was released.

With my uncle’s story, nobody dies, people eventually moved on, and cocoa farm lease eventually expired -after all, really that was a small town area boys causing wahala. Having said that, many people today with means and more serious cases seldom fight injustice anymore as it is often a losing game especially if the defendant is more influential – it is all about money.

Now on the judges’ arrest, the two affected supreme judges were asked to step aside from their official duties while they were being investigated, that was a step forward.

While I am not holding my breath, I do hope to see real people getting behind bars.

When judiciary is compromised, everyone suffers injustice one way or the other.

Checking priviledge

We are all in it together; both home and in diaspora, the thoughts and occasional outpour of emotions are all part of yawning for a better Nigeria.

I read an interesting post the other day whereby a lady was fed up with Nigeria layabout youths. They are always on the roads with their rucksacks and nowhere in particular to go. They are quick to complain on the state of economy as if they would ever be handed free cash even if economy was any different (true this, Nigeria is no social welfare cautious nation). She talked about the mediocrity of our artisans, they often take money without completing the tasks and worse of all is the finishing part of the work is less of what one expected.

The advice was that unemployed youths must look beyond riding Okada (motorbike) and get trained and ready to earn their living. And those who find it hard could return to the farm to grow stuff.

The post received quite a lot of attention which signals relatability.

I have learnt with Nigerians online that people tend to prefer to agree with opinions rather than offering a different perspective the writer may have missed out for fear of being unpopular.

One commenter eventually made a very good point that makes me check on my own privilege and to realise that, my state, my community or my family at home will never get better if I did nothing – not given up on people who have been marginalised by the society is our collective responsibility. The lady is of the opinion that Nigeria will be a better place if enough people realise they are privileged and do their bits for those who have been hit the hardest by the poor leadership.

This means layabout youths can not all be bad and lazy.

I do appreciate both ladies for speaking their minds, I especially liked the lady who pointed to the obvious of lack of equal opportunities that makes it harder for many to make headway.

I love that the post serves as a reminder that those of us who have a little bit more owe it to others to lend hands knowing that this country will never get better if the less privileged were left to rot.

While government policies need to be more reflective of the society, individuals who are doing their share of lifting people around them need not be discouraged.

Most people I know are appreciative and thankful when given helping hands. Some people can not be helped but we can not always let the few bad eggs spoil it for all.