Yoruba Forge Ahead. Step Up, For Self-Help Is The Best Help! Southwest Must Stop Collecting Oil Money From June Or October This Year From Abuja

But Use Income Taxation To Develop The Southwest

Yoruba forge ahead. Step Up, for self-help is the best help. Southwest states must stop collecting oil money from Abuja, but use income taxation to develop the region. Using the year 2014 as a point of reference, the total budgets for the 6 Yoruba states of the Southwest was approximately a N1.3 trillion naira and that of the federal government was also N4.9 trillion naira.

A large fraction of the total budget of the Yoruba states of the Southwest region came from the oil revenues of the Southsouth shared in Abuja, and the balance were from internally generated revenues and borrowing.

The worldwide population of the Yoruba people is about 50 million people, 10 million of whom live in the Diaspora. Yoruba men and women in Nigeria and abroad have a gross annual income of the equivalent of about N80 trillion naira, but the budget to income ratio in the Southwest is abysmally low: approximately 2%.

The average budget to income ratio for all nations worldwide is about 40%, or approximately twenty times that for the Southwest! Of the approximately N1.3 trillion budget of the Southwest states in 2014, most are from oil distributions in Abuja and from borrowing. Effectively, income taxation receipts in the Southwest region account for less than 1% of the total income of Yoruba people worldwide!

Since Yoruba people of the Southwest want socio-economic development, it is imperative that they pay adequate income taxes to support the states and local governments in the region, and extend this courtesy to the federal government when asked, as other peoples in the world do! Payment of income taxes will empower the Yoruba people, and make them to be more assertive in their demand for transparency in government and moderation in the remuneration of politicians.

It will also motivate the active involvement of the people in government, and this will enable the states and local governments in the region to benefit from the God-given wisdom, talents, ingenuity, and resourcefulness of the people.

I propose a variable income tax in 5 tax brackets based on total annual income of Yoruba people in Nigeria to support the states and local governments in the Southwest plus a sixth bracket for Diaspora Yorubas:

A. 30% tax bracket for total incomes above N36 million naira.

B. 24% tax bracket for total incomes greater than N24 million but less than N36 million naira.

C. 15% tax bracket for total incomes greater than N12 million but less than N24 million naira.

D. 9% tax bracket for total incomes greater than N6 million naira but less than N12 million naira.

E. 6% tax bracket for total incomes between N500,000 naira but less than N6 million naira.

F. Diaspora Yorubas who already pay hefty taxes of 25% to 35% in their host countries will pay a flat rate of 2% of their total incomes.

People with special needs, retirees, and Yoruba people worldwide whose annual incomes are less than the equivalent of N500,000 naira per year will pay no taxes.

With the proposed income tax range of 0% to 30%, and assuming an average taxation rate of 10%, the Southwest states can raise a budget revenue of up to N8 trillion naira. A budget of this magnitude can support free education at all levels, the building of comprehensive education and health care infrastructures, and the provisioning of robust social and security services in the Southwest region. A budget of this magnitude can also support investments in the areas of comparative advantage, in industries, tourism, international trade and exports, agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, and game reserves leading to full employment.

Charity begins at home. It is time for Yorubas to unite and raise the revenues needed to solve the problems in each of the six states in the Southwest. It is time for Yorubas to make the financial sacrifice required and apply the effort needed for socio-economic development to take place in the Southwest. It is time for Yorubas to help themselves as self-help is the best help.

It is the responsibility of the Yoruba people to tackle, defeat, or contain corruption in their region, as other peoples and nationalities in the world have done, and not to be incapacitated or intimidated by it. Corruption must no longer be used as an excuse for inaction. There are many honorable men and women in the states and local governments in the Southwest who will rise up and meet this challenge.

Political activism should team up with socio-economic activism, as socio-economic strength translates into political strength. Socio-economic strength makes possible the provisioning of, and the maintenance of, the vital services and infrastructures that the people need and clamor for.

If other nationalities in the federation replicate this model of economic self-empowerment in their regions, the combined effect will provide economic support to the federal government, do socio-economic justice to the people of the oil producing region, and aid national cohesion, development, and stability through fiscal federalism.

It is essential that the Yoruba people take care of their business. Democracy allows this. When the Yoruba people take care of their business, others in the federation will be inspired to do likewise, and the nation will benefit from the practice of true fiscal federalism by its component parts. If other nationalities emulate the Yoruba nation, the ripple effect will be socio-economic development nationwide, national prosperity, and social justice to the oil producing states.

It is a major irony that Yoruba people do not follow the global best practice of supporting governments with adequate income taxes. Yet they routinely and roundly criticise their governments! A total dependence on diminishing oil revenues of the Southsouth region will not get the job done or end the frustrations of the people about their socio-economic problems. A greater revenue raised from income taxes and wisely and transparently spent will boost socio-economic growth and provide employment for millions of jobless youth in local government areas, rural communities, urban centers in the states of the region.

As the saying goes, translated from the vernacular, what the people are looking for, has already been provided to them, by the grace of God. It is within reach, not in a far flung place. It is the responsibility of the Yoruba people to cultivate their God-given talents and resources, harness, and use them for socio-economic development in their region.

Yoruba civic leaders and activists who have the interest in the well-being and progress of the Yoruba people at heart should organize and promote this agenda, and work with the state and local government officials in the region and Yoruba people worldwide to enable the Yoruba people to forge ahead. Yoruba people should take charge of the destiny of the Southwest.

The Southwest region of six states must adopt a taxation policy for the state budgets and stop accepting monthly crude oil revenue distributions from as early as June 2015, but not later than October 2015. This gives a 5 to 9 month window to achieve this objective, which is possible with all hands on deck to promote the income-taxation-for-budget agenda. That is a moral action that the honorable Yoruba people must take which will help towards the ending of the socio-economic exploitation of the oil producing states and the rendering of social justice to the peoples of the Southsouth.

Taxation of the incomes of Yoruba people worldwide will raise more money for the states and local governments in the Southwest than even what the federal government may get from the distribution of oil revenues this year. With such a revenue, the Yoruba people, working hand in hand with their states and local governments, will forge ahead with great outcomes: improved security, full employment, adequate power and water supply, good roads, rural and urban development, excellent social, educational, and health care services, and increased foreign and local investment.

Yoruba forge ahead. Step Up, for self-help is the best help.

Self-help, self-empowerment, and the utilization of God-given resources, is the change Yoruba people need to implement this year for socio-economic progress in the local governments and states of the Southwest region. Yorubas, who earn globally the equivalent of N80 trillion naira annually, should support their states and local governments with their God-given talents, know how, ingenuity, administrative acumen, hard work or effort, and taxes of N8 trillion naira or more per year for great outcomes in the region such as socio-economic development and prosperity. There is no excuse for the Southwest states to continue to collect any oil money from Abuja beyond October of this year.

Abitunde Taiwo

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Articles by Abitunde Taiwo