Rivers PDP Rejects Social Services Levy Bill
The founding members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, after due consultation and thorough analysis of the near-draconian social services levy bill being foisted on the State and its residents by Gov Rotimi Amaechi and his cohorts, hereby condemn and reject outrightly the desperate move by the governor to have an enabling law to warrant implementation of the said levy.
The stand taken on this issue lends respect to and receives credence from the constitutional provision which makes taxation the exclusive preserve of the national assembly.
Besides, Gov Amaechi stands to tell posterity why the second richest State in the federation after Lagos Statemust double-tax its citizens and residents just to maintain social infrastructure and services which are provided elsewhere just for the normal taxes paid and payable.
It behooves the governor to also explain to Rivers people what modalities are or will be put in place to ensure that all those who may enlist to benefit from the educational and health services in the State, especially those from outside Rivers State, actually have a part to play in sustaining the trust fund. Or will this be another case of punishing Rivers people to benefit outsides who can capitalize on the situation to send their children to boarding schools in the State even when they are not resident in the State and cannot be taxed for the services.
We are bewildered to see a governor, who claims that he saves N1 billion every month from the several tens of billion that accrue to the State monthly, insist in having the State legislature authorize him to force the levy down the throats of the same people who have this surplus, throwing caution and decorum to the wind and returning to the assembly to pressurize for a dead bill to be passed by all means.
Gov Amaechi's is yet to convince Rivers people on his actual intention to impose this multiple taxation on them even when they are yet to benefit from the taxes they pay as they clearly generate their own light, drill out their own water and produce other social services by themselves.
If Gov Amaechi internally generated revenue cannot yield amply in an economically viable and obviously rich State like Rivers, then the social services levy, even if implemented, will only be a means of lining the pockets of those who share creed and imaginations with him as government will also not benefit from it.
The zeal and obstinacy with which the governor is going about the actualization of the levy leaves one wondering whether the law is for the good of the State or just for the benefit of those behind it.
By clear definition, laws are made to cater for the wellbeing of the people, and are made for the people and not the people for the laws. Therefore, it is most baffling that despite the total rejection of the law by the people and all professional groups in the State, the governor is still pushing for it, so much so that he threatened to discredit the assembly before the people(?) if they do not pass the executive bill into law.
Rather than partner with professional bodies who know and have counseled that existing taxes in the State can buoy it to successfully fund the education and health sectors, all the governor wants is the power to forcefully deep into the pockets of the already impoverished Rivers people and scratch out what is left in them to satisfy his whims.
He seems to disagree that the voice of the people is the voice of God. Perhaps only his voice is the voice of God, if short being one above the voice of God.
Gov Amaechi must accept that the people have spoken. He must accept that he is only a servant of the people and should not foist on them what they have outrightly rejected.
On several occasions he has stated that he is not a monarch, but on several occasions he has led life like a most intolerant monarch.
The onus here however lies on the State assembly to act right and save the people rather than nourish the governors “digital” imaginations which have capacity to upset the entire polity.
Based on the truth surrounding the social services levy bill, we, the founding fathers and members of the PDP outrightly reject the bill and advise all to continuously condemn it and resist its introduction.
Jerry Needam, JP
PDP Rivers State