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Governor Zulum, reintroduce poll tax in Borno

Between January and February 2024, Borno State raised N2.5 billion as internally generated revenue, according to the Chairman of the Borno State Internal Revenue Board…

Between January and February 2024, Borno State raised N2.5 billion as internally generated revenue, according to the Chairman of the Borno State Internal Revenue Board in Maiduguri. The Borno State government heavily relies on ground rents, PAYE, business and transportation, and N2.5 billion is not enough for a state grappling with many challenges. Hence, there is a need to look critically at this sad reality because other states are getting more than this figure in a month.

Poll tax (haraji) used to be in existence in Borno Native Authority and across the traditional institutions in the country for decades before the coming of the British, and the British encouraged the continuation of the taxation not only for revenue but also for profiling of individuals who were considered security risk until it was abrogated by the politicians in 1980 for political expediency.

I consider that reintroducing the poll tax (haraji) is a necessity for two reasons: one, it would raise the revenue base of the state and two, it would help the state to check-mate its serious security challenges.

For the revenue aspect, the state and the emirate councils would agree with the sharing formula since the latter were collectors of these taxes upon consultation with the former on how much an individual can be taxed, considering the present economic challenges. While on the security side, the state is still grappling with insurgency since 2009 and the gains made from 2015 to date were marred by the recent kidnapping of another 300 persons in the state.

The effort of the government to relocate internally displaced persons to their locality and the recent putting in place of the local government system would not yield the desired results and therefore the need to meet the challenges squarely, head on.

The advantages of the poll tax include helping to collect intelligence about the community and the state would plan the security with such intelligence provided by the emirate councils because with the introduction, data on each household would be collected and the government would get accurate figures on each domain.

There is nothing wrong in trying this arrangement and seeing if it will work.

 

Mohammed Zannah, No.33 Kinshasa Street, Wuse Zone 6, Abuja  [email protected]

 

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