Which taxpayers? Nigerians are reduced to tax-beggars

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Taxpayers’ money; Which taxpayers? Nigerians are reduced to tax-beggars


A village of seven big farmer-families were often invaded by beasts, and also cheated in trade by foreigners. The seven families decided to form a union among themselves for security, collaborative production, fair-trading and progress. They organized a relationship structure, which enabled each family to cultivate their lands and to contribute portions of their profits for the administration of their union. By contributing portions of their profit for the administration of the union, the families became entitled to security, development and free association. The ability to contribute production-percentages for maintenance of a society/institution qualifies individuals as a taxpayers, with full rights.


Frequently, Nigerians from different parts make bold demands from the common ownership claim of the supposed ‘national treasury’. These group of Nigerians make entitlement claims on government-obtained revenues, as “our tax”, even without clarifying their sources or sectional contributions. Once they bear a common national adjective, all revenues are claimed to belong to everybody and to nobody in distinction. With this mentality of undistinguished ownership of all resources, Nigerians focus on plundering all, instead of developing their specific sections. Even when their section’s contribution to revenue is insignificant, they insist that government must share “our money” equally or by population.


Tax is defined as “an amount of money levied by a government on its citizens and used to run the government, the country, a state, a county, or a municipality.”[1] Taxes are derived from the harvest or economic output of the people, taxpayers, who agree to collaborate under one government. The central government receives agreed percentages from component groups, in order to provide security and regulatory services. Also, the central government uses the collected tax-percentages to develop the productive capacities of sections who are not fully productive. When every section is productive and can contribute to the central government, the society gets enough for administration and savings.


This is how modern societies, including United State of America, handle their economic administration for peace and progress. A people’s immediate or potential ability to contribute to a bigger union from their productivity qualifies them as taxpayers.

Unfortunately in Nigeria, it appears that there is no production tax-system for the constituent groups in Nigeria. The ethnic communities, who should contribute taxes from the primary productivity of their mineral resources are militarily-stripped of access to their resources.[2][3][4] After brutally confiscating the people’s mineral resources, the federal government auctions these resources to industrialized nations for foreign currency. Hence, the ethnic communities[5] go begging funds from the federal government, instead of training their natives to produce what they need from their resources. Yet, the world supervises this situation despite their Human Rights Declaration that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.”[6]

Land and mineral resources are arguably the most stable factors of production – at the foundation of other forms of production. Mineral resources are used in industries for producing machines, energy, gadgets and infrastructure for human use. Lands are used as base for construction, agriculture, sports research, production and every other activity performed by human beings. Presently, while the ethnic communities’ minerals are confiscated using Nigerian-Mineral-and-Mining-Act, their lands are confiscated using the Land Use Act[7]. Then the natives who demand a return of ownership for their resources are imprisoned,[8] bribed[9] or killed[10].


Today, Nigerians from every side are begging government for more share in the revenue from sale of primary means of production (mineral resources). Doctors, lecturers, teachers and other civil servants go on strike – begging for more resource-revenue from the federal government. Even the original communities who should manage their resources for primary production beg for royalties and allocations. Yet, the federal government annexes the position of resource-owners by confiscating the mineral resources, and paying taxes (discretionary-allocations) to property owners. It also creates other channels – states, local governments, districts and constituencies – for the ethnic communities to beg resource funds.


Since the primary-production tax is impossible due to the confiscation of major means of production, service and consumption taxes become premium. Thus, it may be argued that Nigeria does multiple-taxation: first, your mineral resources, second, from your occupation, and third, from VAT on everything you purchase. Despite the emphasis on internally-generated-tax in Nigeria, the major source of Nigeria’s revenue remains sale of crude resources. Crude oil and gas revenue constitutes about 90 percent of foreign trade and revenue in Nigeria.


Nigeria may never develop economically, if the central government continues to hinder the primary productivity of the constituent parts. The forceful confiscation of the mineral resources – basic means of production – makes resource-management cumbersome for the central government. With the government confiscation of resources, the original taxpayers – ethnic communities – will remain tax-beggars until they retrieve their resources. When they educate and organize their natives to retrieve mineral resources for producing what they need for sustenance and profit, then they can pay taxes to the central. This will form a foundation of government-legitimacy and viability in Nigeria, since “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.”[11] Then Nigerians can confidently make demands, bargain and refer to government revenue as taxpayers’ money, our tax as taxpayers.


[1] Microsoft® Encarta® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

[2] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2 “… all lands in which minerals have been found in Nigeria and any area covered by its territorial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone shall, from the commencement of this Act be acquired by the Government of the Federation…”  “No person shall search for or exploit mineral resources in Nigeria or divert or impound any water for the purpose of mining except as provided in this Act.”  “The property in mineral resources shall pass from the Government to the person by whom the mineral resources are lawfully won, upon their recovery in accordance with this Act.”

[3] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[4] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[5] Ethnic communities are represented by members of Federal house of representatives and state house of assembly

[6] Human rights Declaration, Article 17, section 2

[7] 29th March 1978, Land use act. P7 “… to vest all land comprised in the territory of each state (except land vested in the federal government or its agencies) solely in the Governor of the State, who would hold such land in trust for the people and would henceforth be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the state and to organization for residential, agricultural, commercial and other purposes”.

[8] Ken Saro Wiwa

[9] Ogoni 4

[10] Odi Massacre

[11] Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21, para 3