An All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship aspirant for 2019 governorship election in Imo State, Nick Opara-Ndudu, has criticized the introduction of adult levy announced by Governor Rochas Okorocha, whom he accused of being insensitive to the sufferings of the people, who are now enmeshed in debilitating poverty induced by his seven years misrule.
The Imo State Government (IMSG) had on Friday, in a statement by Louis Duru, the State Commissioner For Community Government, Culture and Traditional Affairs, on behalf of the Governor, stated that all “leviable adults” in the state have been ordered to pay N3,000 each as adult development levy.
According to Louis Duru, who noted that the state had registered at least 2,000 leviable adults in each autonomous community, the money is to be used for “autonomous community adult development”.
Recognized autonomous communities in the state will serve as the collectors and they are to pay not less than N6 million each.
Reacting in a statement on Tuesday, Opara-Ndudu said the “announcement by IMSG requiring all adults to pay N3,000 monthly or N36,000 per annum is, to say the least, a step in the wrong direction,” adding that with this pronouncement, it is clear that the government is determined to continue in its misguided and justifiably vilified programme of punishing and impoverishing Imo citizens rather than work for their welfare and peaceable enjoyment of their livelihoods.
“In a state where the rural folks have gone through untold harassment and psychological torture in the past seven years, one needs to remind Governor Rochas Okorocha that the basis for the existence of any government is the welfare and well-being of the people. And any government that loses sight of this raison d’etre for its existence, as is the case in Imo state today, loses credibility and justification for its existence.
“As a professional accountant and public finance practitioner, I do know that there is a plethora of initiatives that can be pursued by IMSG to raise and increase revenues without burdening the citizens with additional taxes and levies. For the record, it needs to be mentioned that Imo State achieved its highest revenues since its creation in 2014 when it recorded N8.1 billion in revenues.
“From monthly revenue of about N320million at the beginning of 2014, the state made incremental progress in the course of the year reaching as high as N800million in the third quarter of 2014. These results were achieved under my watch as the Pioneer Commissioner of Internal Resources(IGR) and Pension Matters, having assumed that position in January 2014 for the following nine months,” he disclosed.
Opara-Ndudu said, “At the risk of sounding immodest, I dare say we were able to achieve that because of the leadership that I provided along with a few other committed professionals like Mrs. Chioma Okpaleke, Barrister(Mrs.) Egejuru, etc. He added that “we were able to review and tighten the assessment regime, broaden the tax base by creatively widening the tax net and launched a groundbreaking public enlightenment program (aka Ndozi Imo) to support the government’s drive for additional revenue.
The governorship hopeful said “if the governor does not know, he needs to be told that most of the revenue contracts in the state have the fingerprints of his siblings. Even when he directed that all such revenue contracts be terminated, the affected companies (who were paying pittances) refused to cooperate with the ministry owing to the illicit connections and influence they wielded in government.
“Going by what I know, I believe we can significantly improve Imo State’s revenues by adopting a thoroughly professional approach to tax collection. If other states like Lagos, Delta, Rivers, Kaduna, etc can do it, why not Imo?
“Confronting this challenge and several others that face Imo state, remain the driving force behind my determined and uncompromising bid to be next governor of our state. We are very endowed with professionals and technocrat that can make the difference in leadership. And by God’s grace, Imo Shall Rise Again,” he said.