LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEVIES: THE PREDATORS OF MICRO BUSINESSES AND SMES
Micro businesses are pivot to any booming economy in the world. Americans were the people that discovered this in time and they made it mandatory that every one of their citizens should be running a cottage or small business as family ventures no matter their profession or status in the society.
A micro business is one that requires one to three workers for its operations and its working capital not exceeding three hundred thousand naira. It includes bean-cake business which its working capital does not exceed twelve thousand. There are other ones that their working capital is up to five hundred thousand naira. These can be tactically referred to as micro and small business respectively. Thus, for the purpose of this article, we group all of them into one as small business.
Small businesses had not been flourishing in Nigeria until recently. This is due to lack of capital, skills, training and morale to venture into them by Nigerians. Again, people did not realize in time that one must not be in the employment of big organizations before they could earn a living. But now Nigerians have started to appreciate self employment. They want to be their own boss as to practice and develop their skills and professions provided it could pay their house rent, feed and cloth them. Besides, capital is no more as scarce as it was in the earlier stage. These are evident in the lines of kiosk, stores, shops, and containers on the roads and streets of Nigeria.
There are enormous advantages to this trend. One, it has enhanced the trainings and skills of Nigerians. Secondly, it has contributed to the gross national product. Besides, unemployment and its accompanied social vices have been positively affected. As a matter of fact, if more government policies, effort and encouragement is applied, we could become the America or China of Africa.
However, there is eminent impediment; a predator is menacing cruelly at the small business. To shorten the story, some of these small business operators have lost moral due to the activities of local government authorizes and their cohorts. The levies on the business are exorbitant and exploitative. It is true that the supply of electricity is nothing to write home about; besides adverse road conditions. But the major factor militating against the business is the levies the local authorities are shooting at them like bullets.
Take for instance; the devastating activities of Precious Oforji, the incumbent chairman of Oyigbo local government area of Rivers State in form of levies impose on small business. In short, without mincing words, Precious Oforji is working day and night to undue Oyigbo residents and their business through the levies he imposes on them. When approached to pity the poor masses struggling to survive, he would allege that the people did not vote for him. Then, I don't know how he came to power, which is another serious matter that the state government should look into. Worse still, all the money Oforji is exploiting from hungry masses, he puts in his pockets and the remainder he channels to his son Chima Oforji while the roads remain in bad shape, waste product are not cleared, etc.
Last year, he imposed such levies as:
Operational permit #5,000
Sign boards #3,000
Dev. & support levy #5,000
Illegal structure #5,000
And this year, he has added computer business centre #5,000.
He is scheming to add more. Please, (dis)honorable Precious Oforji leave us alone. We are not your slaves. Remember what happened in the book of Daniel chapter 5 verses 24 to 31. Thus, we call on the state and federal government to call Precious Oforji of Oyigbo local government to order.
JOHNSON ONUKAOGU does business in Oyigbo LGA, Rivers State. Email: [email protected]