In general, the art of government consist in taking
As much money as possible from one class of citizens
To give to the other – Voltaire
By econometric standards buttressed by the principles of mercantilism, the immense grandiosity of life is accentuated by the ability of governments at all levels to find and give ‘WORK’ to its citizenry.
Hence, Thomas Carlyle in his magnum opus ‘CHARTISM’, observed that, “A man willing to work and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune’s inequality exhibits under the sun”.
Is the desire to give work to its citizenry what is stimulating the authorities of Uvwie Local Government Area in Delta State to carry-out multiple, inconsiderate and ungodly levies, taxes etc, on traders, companies through its numerous Revenue Collection Committees?
Indeed, the nation’s constitution (as amended) provides under Fourth Schedule (section 7) the functions of local government councils as including but not limited to, collection of rates, radio and television licenses, licensing of bicycles, trucks, canoes, wheelbarrows and carts; provision and maintenance of public conveniences, sewage and refuse disposal of privately owned houses or tenements for the purpose of levying rates as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly of a state; and the provision and maintenance of primary, adult and vocational education etc.
The Uvwie LG Council is also empowered to collect rates, levies, etc through “Demand Notices” as contained in the “Extra-ordinary official Gazette No. 25 vol. 78 of 24th June, 1991 PART A; Decree No. 2 of Level Government Basic Constitutional Transitional Provisions (Amendment No. 3) of 1991, suspension and Modification Decree 1984 on Local Government empower local government councils to collect revenue on the subject matter.
The Uvwie Local Government Council stipulates in its “Demand Notices” that “Rates/levies are not negotiable. That you are given seven days 24hrs from the date of this letter to pay the amount recorded against your operational office/yard by cash or cheque.
That failure to comply will attract sanctions to such defaulter(s) in any of the courts after goods have been impounded or office sealed”. We need no ghost to tell us that Uvwie Local Government Council can only carry out its constitutional and statutory functions with monies collected from its citizenry and other businesses within its ambit of operation.
And every corporate person, trader and business owners in the LGA are statutorily obligated to pay their levies, rates, dues, tariffs etc, on receipt of duly signed and stamped “Demand Notices”.
I, however, wish to advice the Transitory Committee Chairman, members of the protean and various Revenue sub-committees, taskforces and their violent foot soldiers to note that most of their rates and charges are incarnadined in sordid inconsideration of the business fluidity of the traders, companies and businesses in Uvwie L.G.A. Indeed, business is now horribly slow in Delta State and you cannot pay such exorbitant rates/levies from non-existent income.
My suggestion to the Transition Committee Chairman and his various Revenue Committee chairmen is that since these are financially perilous and difficult times they should give revenue collection a human face by making all charges to take into consideration the business scope, functional viability, profit level and capital outlay of such traders /companies.
I beg to observe that all sorts of youths have been recruited and conscripted to engage in aggressive revenue drive to create job for the boys. But they should be tutored on decorum and courtesy.
Good governance through the provision and maintenance of roads, public light, markets, health care centres, cemeteries and schools will involuntarily stimulate a positive response from the citizenry, traders and companies at large to pay their moderate tenement rates and environmental charges. But there is virtually no visible projects presence of Uvwie LGA on ground. Its Refuse Disposal Unit is doing nothing palpably tangible and yet it is forcefully enforcing collection of charges and rates from poor traders/business owners.
The first victim of war is the truth. Essayist Henrik Ibsen in his book ‘An enemy of the people’ posited that “The most dangerous enemy to truth and freedom in our midst is the compact majority. Yes, the damned, compact, liberal majority”.
The majority of traders and businesses that suffer this wanton rates and charges have refused to complain.
They luxuriate in these multiple and oppressive charges. The bills of Uvwie LG Council Revenue Sub-Committees range from N16, 000 to N150, 000, and you must pay all. Some cover operational levy, tenement rate, petroleum products, public conveniences, sewage and refuse disposal, bill board/ sign board and banner.
Finally, I wish to add that there will be dual mutual annihilation of the Uvwie revenue collection workers and business community if these horrendously oppressive levies are not reconsidered.
I admonish the Uvwie Transitional Committee Chairman that the Revenue Committees should be reorganized with specific mandate to carry out moderate revenue drive and accord due courtesies to the paying public.
Chief Gbinije is founder of Mandate Against Poverty (MAP), Warri, Delta State