Ministerial nominee calls for ‘just taxation’ on wealthy Nigerians

Aregbesola and Buhari. [Photo credit: Newsverge]

A former governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, has promised to push for ‘just taxation’ on wealthy Nigerians if confirmed a minister of the federal republic.

He made the statement during his ministerial screening on Monday.

Mr Aregbesola is one of the 43 ministers recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

While fielding questions from the lawmakers, he said he would work to achieve a tax regime he said will improve the country’s revenue.

Mr Arebgesola was asked what would be his attitude [to taxation] so that businesses can grow.

In his response, the former governor said he would pioneer ‘privilege taxes’ for those with huge resources.

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“I will advocate for a just taxation system that will bridge the inequality in the system,” he said, suggesting that Nigeria’s billionaires would pay a lot more in taxes than they currently do if his advise is accepted by the president.

Nigeria has one of the worst income inequalities in the world, according to a recent report by Oxfam.

Oxfam stated that it would cost about $24 billion a year to lift all Nigerians above the extreme poverty line of $1.90 a day.

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The organisation put the combined wealth of the five richest Nigerian men at $29.9 billion – more than the country’s entire budget in 2017.

“It would take 46 years for the richest Nigerian man to spend all of his wealth, even if he spent at a rate of $1million a day,” the report noted.

“Nigeria’s stark levels of inequality are comparable only to those in Brazil, where the richest five per cent of the population have as much wealth as the remaining 95 per cent (the six richest men in Brazil have as much wealth as the poorest 50 per cent of the population – over 100 million people),” the global aids agency stated.

Osun Salaries Controversy

During his screening, Mr Aregbesola explained that the disparity in the payment of salaries during his reign in Osun State was stopped in July 2018 before the expiration of his tenure in November.

“The narrative on salary is mischievous and based on ignorance. No one (can) say the Nigerian economy did not experience a huge downfall.

“Personnel cost alone was 63%. Osun was taken out of Oyo. There is a historical background about it. I was there to do interesting balancing. I had to constitute a panel to monitor all revenue inflow and apportion what is left to salaries which we did innovatively.

“I never owed staff from level one-to-nine. It was only officers in level 12 and above that had to earn half their salary.

“We came up with an approach that there is no month that any public official did not have salary every month,” he said.

The staggered payment of salaries to civil servants was one of the constant criticisms of Mr Aregbesola while he was governor.

Salaries owed hundreds of workers were only paid a few weeks to the governorship election.

Mr Aregbesola was succeeded last year as governor by his former chief of staff, Gboyega Oyetola.

Two other nominees take a bow

The Senate also gave two other nominees that traditional “take a bow” treatment.

They are Muhammad Mahmoud and Gbemisola Saraki.

Mr Mahmoud, the Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission, was asked to leave on grounds of legislative background.

Read more: RUGA initiative only for states ready to cater for Fulani – Ganduje(Opens in a new browser tab)

He was a member of the Kaduna State House of Assembly.

Ms Saraki, sister to ex-Senate President, Bukola Saraki, represented Kwara Central Senatorial District between 2003 and 2011. She was also a former member of the House of Representatives, representing Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency between 1999 and 2003.

She was asked to bow and go on grounds of her legislative background and gender.

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