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Emergency conditions that threaten the existence of Nigeria todayexist, a plea to the former heads of state to broker the formation of agovernment of national unity

By Abitunde Taiwo
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An open letter to former Presidents Gen Yakubu Gowon, Gen Olusegun Obasonjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Gen Mohammed Buhari, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan, and Gen Abdusalami Abubakar.

Your Excellencies,

Emergency conditions that threaten the continued existence of Nigeria today exist.

I implore you as former heads of state and elder statesmen to step in and broker the formation of a government of national unity for four years and the abandonment of the elections of 2015. In this arrangement, the opposition will provide the vice-president and 50% of the cabinet ministers at the federal level and 50% of the commissioners in the states. At the governorship level, the party in power will relinquish the deputy-governorship to the competition.

Nigeria can no longer rely on diminishing oil revenues!

Your Excellencies, you cannot wait until the bottom falls out on the economy and risk a collapse of the Nigerian state!

The nation may not survive the acrimony and the disturbances that may attend the outcome of the elections giving the precarious state of the oil-based economy, the security challenges in the Northeast, Southsouth, and elsewhere in the nation, and massive youth unemployment in the country.

As you are aware, taxation of the income of the citizens of a country is a global best practice.

The government of national unity should be encouraged to tax the income of Nigerians worldwide in order to fund government operations, provide services that the people need, build the infrastructures that socio-economic development requires, and provide the training, compensation, sophisticated equipment, and motivation that security forces nationwide need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.

Nigerian citizens resident Nigeria and other parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Australia, and in the Middle East gross the equivalent of one trillion US dollars but contribute no income tax to the oil-revenue-based federal budget, which for this year is the equivalent of $30 billion US dollars, a shoe string budget for a country of 170 million people. A progressive income taxation of Nigerians worldwide in the range of 5% to 45% will have provided a revenue of up to $200 to $300 billion US dollars to the federal government this year!

For the federal government to aim for only $2 billion US dollars per year or so from the taxation of luxury items alone, without the income tax I propose, as widely reported in the press, is grossly inadequate in a country of 170 million people with enormous socio-economic and security challenges.

Nigerians are the loudest and harshest critics of the federal government that they do not fund or support! It is time that Nigerians be given the opportunity to fulfill the basic civic obligation of paying income tax, and this will motivate Nigerians to actively join the federal government in solving the problems they vociferously complain about!

Taxation of Nigerians worldwide will enable the fulfillment of the demands and responsibility of citizenship. It will provide an additional revenue of up to $200 to $300 billion US dollars to accrue to the coffers of government annually. This is significantly more than the dwindling oil revenues, which currently stands at approximately $60 billion US dollars for this year.

Taxation will also enable social justice to be done to the oil producing states as they can be allowed to keep up to 50 per cent of the oil revenues, a just demand of theirs, since most of government revenues will come from taxation.

Taxation also will create opportunities for Nigerians to give back, provide revenues to government needed to provide vital services to the people, and through government spending of the enhanced accrued revenues create many economic opportunities for investors and millions of job opportunities in the country.

Taxation will also motivate the Nigerian people to become more actively involved in the solution of the problems in their communities as democracy demands.

Taxation will boost the revenues that accrue to the federal government for use in a budget that will be substantially more than the current shoestring budget.

The Nigerian government should be encouraged to enter into a bilateral tax agreement with each country in which substantial number of Nigerians live in order to mitigate their double taxation jeopardy.

Thank you very much, your Excellencies, for your service to the nation.

Sincerely,

Abitunde Taiwo