Bread makers took to the streets in Lagos on Thursday to protest “multi-agencies and ministries” taxation by the state government.
The protesters under the aegis of the Premium Breadmakers Association of Nigeria (PBAN) kicked off from the state secretariat in Alausa, Ikeja, to the house of assembly with different placards inscriptions.
“Lagos government: stop duplication multi-agencies functions in premium bakeries, multiple taxations in Lagos is killing premium bakeries, premium bread makers are reeling under the yoke of multiple-agencies levies, rates, and taxes,” their placards read.
The protesters in a letter signed by their president, Emmanuel Onuorah, addressed to the speaker of the house of assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, said 13 state agencies are monitoring their businesses and collecting taxes from their “premium bakeries,” aside from the ones at the federal levels – the National Agency for Food & Drug Administration (NAFDAC), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity amongst others.
“The following are the list of Lagos State ministries, agencies and parastatals claiming that they are authorized by law to monitor/oversee premium bakeries:
1. Lagos State of The Ministry of Environment
2. Lagos State Safety Commission
3. Ministry of Transport (State Carriage)
4. Lagos Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA)
5. Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA)
6. Lagos State Fire Service 7. Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LIRS)
8. Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA)
9. All 57 local governments and LCDAs in Lagos
10. Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA)
11. Yearly papers by LGAs/LCDAS 12. Daily Ticket (Toll) (LGAs/LCDAs)
13. Mid-year Papers (LGAS/LCDAs).”
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, the president said they had earlier submitted a letter to the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on September 14 but didn’t get any feedback despite the acknowledgement of the letter.
He said if this one isn’t responded to within two weeks, there would be a hike in bread prices.
“We want to shout so that Nigerians would know. If bread prices increase you would know who to hold,” Mr Onuorah said.
‘Unfavourable business environment’
Mr Onuorah said their business operational capacity has dropped by 50 per cent and he has lost over N200 million in the last three years.
“It is not easy doing business here to produce bread now, the materials ..flour and sugar that is the main constituent of our products have gone up. We have been subsidizing bread for Nigerians and we are not going to subsidize bread if these things continue. By the end of this year we are going to increase our bread prices,” Mr Onuorah said.
“And you know the problem that they would cause for Nigerians. We have been bearing the cost, we have been absorbing it and we are saying no. Every other thing that is making bread is very expensive.
“Imagine, the Lagos safety commission will come and take 350,000, some of them will come N500,000, sometimes they would say monthly, …in local government, we are not resting, if you park (your distribution vehicle) they will come and take money from you, they beat up our workers. What kind of life is that? Are we not Nigerians?”
He said he might have to lay off some of his workers due to the situation.
In the letter to Mr Obasa, the president appealed to the state government “to save our businesses from collapse and prevent over one million people in Lagos state under our employment (inclusive of bread distributors) from becoming jobless and being pushed back into an already saturated unemployment market.”
The bread makers demanded “special protection” as a major employer of labour in order to sustain the ecosystem of Lagos economy.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Public Petitions and LASIEC, Victor Akande, promised to deliver their letter to the governor.