The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership has asked the federal government to give burdened Nigerian citizens free fuel vouchers rather than reinstitute toll gates. In a press statement seen by Sahara Reporters Friday, the civil society group observed that the federal government had already increased value-added tax (VAT), making it unfair for the government to add new levies.
“We wonder how much of additional taxpayers’ funds that ordinarily should be used in easing their current socioeconomic problems, especially their suffering of travelling by those roads that were in a dilapidated state for long by giving them free fuel vouchers for their endurance, rather than further extorting them,” the organisation said.
“The fact of the matter is that tolling means second or third taxation on the citizens as the roads are being repaired and rehabilitated from the pool of tax already contributed by same citizens, one way or the other while the rate payable on value-added tax (VAT) on all goods and services in the country has only of recent, been proposed for an increase from five per cent to seven point two (7.2) per cent,” it noted.
CACOL recalled that the Obasanjo administration spent N2 billion in dismantling toll plazas across the country. They believe now is not the time for the government to spend similar resources into constructing road tax collection structures, which in their view could cause accidents.
“Aside from the time, nay, man-hours and resources wasted at toll gates as we have it on Lekki road in Lagos; the queue at the plazas portends grave danger to life and property of road users as such bottlenecks could be prone to devastating road accidents, especially with fuel tankers or attacks by terrorists and insurgents.” Debo Adeniran, who heads the anti-corruption centre, advised the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to sample the opinion of citizens before implementing controversial policies. According to him, this was the case in the military era.
“The federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari should also devise a way of sampling the opinion of end-users or those at the receiving end of any controversial government policy before finally deciding to implement them. This is the hallmark of what constitutes genuine democracy. This practice was even subsisting under the military regime as citizens were given the opportunity to discuss the desirability or otherwise of IMF loan/ SAP and their conditionality which eventually led to the rejection of the loan,” CACOL stated.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), one of the dominant pieces that merged into the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), had in 2011, contested an attempt by the Jonathan administration to return toll gates.
An excerpt from Sahara Reporters