The Social and Integral Development Centre, SIDEC, in conjunction with the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room with funding support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), has held a one-day sensitization programme on tax policies and programmes, tax compliance, effectiveness and efficiency of tax collection methods and processes in Anambra State for stakeholders from Anambra South Senatorial District.

The event which was organized under its Tax for Service project, attracted representatives of the government, markets, communities, the civil society and the media who tasked the Anambra State Government to be more responsive in rendering social services to the citizens to encourage tax compliance across the state.

The Executive Director of SIDEC, Ugochi Agalaba-Ehiahuruike, on the occasion presented the findings of the Needs Assessment Study carried out in nine major markets across the three senatorial districts of the state.

She listed the demands from Onitsha main market to include: solar light, toilet facilities, CCTV and roads, while Ochanja market asked for concrete floor, CCTV and lights. 

According to her, “Relief market demands for access roads, borehole and fire truck. Eke-Awka needs fire truck, solar light, and potable water. Ekwulobia market asks for security van, solar lights, potable water while Nkwo Nnewi demands access roads, toilets and fire trucks”.  

“We did same with all the communities after which we presented the charters of demands to the government. We have also engaged the leadership of the Internal Revenue Service, (AiRS) to ensure that revenue generation translates to service delivery in the major markets of the state. 

“Some antagonistic markets leaders did not cooperate with us because for obvious they have passed vote of no confidence on all tiers of government. You all are citizens of Anambra State and you must demand social services from our government for every tax, levy and rate we pay,” Ehiahuruike charged participants. 

She was happy that the 2024 approved budget of the state contains provisions meant to tackle many of the demands in the market and community charters of demands such as water, security, roads among others. 

“The purpose of pulling out these relevant sections of the budget is inform you so that the PGs, market leaders and other stakeholders can demand accountability. That way, we will have value for the taxes we pay and other revenues of government. 

During the interactive session, one of stakeholders, a public policy analyst, Dr Dennis Ekemezie, lauded the initiative, which he described as a very good citizens engagement, civic education, and public enlightenment, which will help to inform the grassroots people.

“However, I advise ASATU to use its grassroots mobilization strategies to educate our people to know their obligations and rights around taxation. Governor Soludo is doing well in this direction. But, we need him to do more”. 


The President General, Awa community, Dr Raymond Offor, was also grateful to SIDEC for empowering the citizens to demand accountable leadership from those in authority. “There is need for people to know things that pertain to taxes and levies they pay and general programmes of government, as this will enable them to follow up. 

“The presentation on the 2024 budget made here will help we the PGs to follow up. We can walk up to various ministries to demand services in line with those budget items. 

Mr Chibueze Ughalla, who is from the media, believed that the Tax for Service project being implemented by SIDEC has revealed that wastage in government is a major reason people don’t want to pay their taxes and levies. 

“From everything discussed, the citizens want the procedures for tax payment to be harmonized so that they know what they are paying for. They don’t want to fall victims of double or multiple taxation or pay to illegal agents who go about defrauding people. If everything is done as discussed here, it will be a seamless process in Anambra State”.

A civil society advocate, Mrs Ugochi Freeman, described the sensitization as laudable. “When services are being provided, people will be willing to pay. But, when you ask them to pay for services not rendered, compliance will be very low”.

“For instance, this government introduced house to house collection of refuse but the system did not work. Majority of people refused to pay. So, let government becomes very responsible, people will also become responsible with their civic duties one of which is tax payment”. 

One of the traders in attendance, Mrs Chioma Okeke narrated her nasty experience about tax payment late 2023. “I had paid all the levies - the tax, business premises, ANSEPA, security and others. Four months after, the people collecting government money said I must pay 6000 naira for truck that comes to offload my rice depending on its size”. 

“I called the authorities who collected the money from me to give me protection and nothing was done. I had to pay the money which is different from what you pay to those people claiming to be sons of the soil. Government should give us protection from illegal agents,” she pleaded. 

Earlier in a presentation, the State Director, Information and Media of the Unified Hybrid Enforcement Team – UHBET, Mr Juventus Okoli, representing the Zonal Coordinator for Anambra South, explained that “UHBET is the tax compliance enforcement team of the government that is civil, disciplined, organized, restructured and work in manner acceptable to the people. 

“Our rules say dress fine and address people like human beings. Put human face to your conduct and enforcement approaches. Be kind to all listen to them. Do not victimize, harass and assault people. 

“We now have IGR hubs across the state digitally operating. That is why In November, 2023, we were able to generate over three billion naira for the state which is the highest in history”.

On discipline, Okoli said, “If you see UHBET officials in action, feel free to snap pictures, record audio, do the videos and send across to the number I gave you. We are not sent to go and brutalize the citizens. We must do our job in a civilized and cultured manner,” he concluded. 

Participants requested that copies of the 2024 budget be made available to the Anambra State Association of Town Union, ASATU and market leaders as an advocacy instrument towards judicious implementation of the 2024 budget. 

“It will help us to push for implementation. For several years, revenue collection has been shrouded in secrecy. But things are changing under the present government. However, if government performs its duties, greater number of citizens will be happy to come into the tax net,” one of them submitted.



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