Tax Payers Money In Action (Being Joshua)
The level of ridiculousness I have witnessed in Nigeria, in terms of usage of tax payers money is quite baffling.
When idealists and social commentators talk, they tell us that the highest office in a democracy is the office of the citizen. Interestingly, the citizen doubles as the tax payer. This is why I am left wondering why Nigerians never bother about what tax payers money is used for.
Occasionally, while driving through Lagos, you’ll see a construction project going on, and you’ll find a signage that reads “tax payer’s money in action”. That is one of the few times Nigerians seem to see our collective money being spent.
We forget that the government operates on our behalf and income tax is actually not the biggest tax source. VAT, corporate tax, excise duties, and other income sources for the government earn a lot more, and we should be interested in how these funds are subsequently disbursed.
I have heard in the not-too-distant past, that for every one Naira the government spends, about sixty Kobo is misappropriated. (I.e. stolen, wasted, siphoned, misused, etc.)
This will normally not move you until you realize that for every one million spent, six hundred thousand is wasted, and for every billion spent, six hundred million is wasted. That should be ringing alarm bells already.
Considering how public office holders earn a lot higher than the average citizen, in terms of salary and allowances, these elected officials then go on to employ an unnecessary army of advisers, special advisers, senior special advisers and aides. Thereby raising the wage burden of the nation, not only in employing these people, but subsequently in disengaging them.
Tax payer’s money is still used in paying actual soldiers and other armed forces units, many of whom will not hesitate in manhandling and mistreating “bloody” civilians.
The worst case of tax payers money in action I ever witnessed was funny enough just under a signage that said “tax payers money in action”. A team of fully kitted army unit had packed its vehicle and was controlling traffic. This was happening in a highbrow area of Lagos, which is never know for any type of violence.
We’ve got legitimate security challenges in different parts of the country, yet soldiers are stationed to control traffic. That is just as bad as the wastage we see in our budgeting process every year.
It is time Nigerians begin to look around us for other waste of our collective resources, then hold the government accountable, and insist they do better.
The current government has done a great job of expanding the tax net, they’ve kept telling us they intend to expand it even further. Yet, they keep borrowing for projects which the citizens are yet to be impacted by.
Cutting wastage of public resources will ensure optimal use of tax payer’s money. Nigerians need to see the commitment on the side of government to prevent misappropriation and theft, since they won’t voluntarily do it, we need to demand it of them.
To whom much is given, much is expected. To whom much tax is given, much more projects are expected.