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Phone Taxation: Is it a Sin to ‘Be and Live’ in Nigeria?

By Tonie Osegbo

With the recent statement credited to the CBN Governor, where he is proposing for voice calls to be taxed after a period of three minutes has shown that Nigerian leaders, economic and financial managers lacks the innovative thinking of generating revenue for the government and mode of easing the livelihood of the citizens living in this part of sub-Saharan Africa.

In Nigeria, as an independent supposed rich country, its citizen’s pay through their nose for everything they get. Nigeria as one of the richest countries in Africa and acclaimed giant of Africa with its high number of financially stable and wealthy individuals also houses high number of poorest people in Africa, with more than half of its population living below one dollar per day.

Nigerians pay for everything they get either from the government or whoever that is offering the product and services, they pay for the light they use, yet the lights are not stable, they pay for the water they use, they pay for school fees from basic to secondary to tertiary and after graduation is only 1-5% gets a job, they pay for the health facilities they access, they pay through their nose to for fuelling of their vehicles, they pay for their transportation, pay for rents, and in all these Nigerian still pays tax to the government, nothing much or meaningful comes from the government. In Nigeria, if the air humans breathe can be paid for, Nigerians would have been paying for it.

Most necessities Nigerians pays for are supposed to be provided by the government, I wonder why a government will love to receive more from its citizens without actually providing more for its citizens.

Tell me why a network user will pay more money when in making voice communication at a particular threshold of three minutes. Why will the government or the CBN governor think of such when high number of Nigerian population cannot afford to recharge their pay-phones with ₦100 (less than ₵30). Why will the CBN governor make it public without duly consulting the telecom bodies and agencies in knowing whether is viable, why will they want to limit the way Nigerians extend their voice communication over mobile, why will they want Nigerians to pay more at a particular time when the charges deducting form their recharged account is tax inclusive. If this proposal is imposed on the operators and users, it means that once a user makes a call after 180 seconds, a higher amount will be deducted. Let’s say, you called user with same operator, and 0.11k is the normal rate for a second, then you are supposed to be charged N6.6k per minute and N19.8k for three minutes and when and after the third minutes, let’s say the proposed phone tax is fixed at after the third minute, 0.40k will be deducted per second then Nigerians are to pay N24 per minute after the first three minutes of the call. Then when you now call a user with a different operator, let’s say the charge is 0.15 per second then for a minute is N9 and for the three minutes is going to be N27 and after the third minute, let’s say the proposed tax is fixed for such to be 0.60 for another operator, it will be N36 that will be deducted from ones account after the third minute.

Isn’t it wickedness that this same CBN Governor, immediately after he assumed office re-introduced the payment of or deduction of money from a bank customers account after he must have withdrawn thrice from a bank that he is not operating. His, predecessor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, now the Emir of Kano came and scrapped the N100 charge that was being deducted from the customer’s account once the customer withdraws from a bank that the customer is not operating, and Nigeria hailed him, because banks still makes money from the transaction.

This same CBN governor introduced and imposed N50 stamp duty on every transaction that goes through a current account and now he is proposing for voice call tax on Nigerian after they must have make a call to a particular threshold all in the name of generating revenue for the government.

Most times, I ask myself is Emefiele, appointed the CBN governor to create more suffering, anger and hardship for the citizens of Nigeria or was he appointed to create ease of livelihood for the people by making people-oriented, viable and good policies that will enhance the standard of living of a normal Nigeria.

Nigerians, telecom regulators and operators need to reject and rebuke this tax proposal that is proposed to be imposed on Nigerians. We pay through our nose to get whatever we want in this country and now they also want to limit the way we talk and ask us to pay more. There are other ways funds can be raised for the government and not by imposing economically wrong policies on its citizens.

Reject and rebuke it, Nigerian people.
Tonie Osegbo writes from Abuja, Nigeria

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Tonie Osegbo and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."