It is good for the residents of a given society to pay their taxes, but the authorities concerned with the management of the people must make sure that the people’s taxes are promptly and judiciously utilized.
I am not sure that the Rivers State Government found an alternate word when news reports had it that Governor Chibuike Amaechi said that his administration would be “ruthless” in the collection of taxes in 2013. Except that Amaechi was speaking in idiom, the word “ruthless” is known of the military. And I do not think that he is a soldier, except if he had undergone military training, and we don’t know.
As a democratically elected governor, it was known that democrats were meek and kind. They always apply due process in their business of governance. They also do not use certain words, which instill fear and altercation in the lives of those that they govern. If Amaechi made such statement that he would “ensure that tax defaulters were prosecuted and jailed if found guilty” what do we make of his government that, I do not think, had met in whole the residents’ expectations.
At least, in an area like Oyigbo, the place was an eyesore and impassable during the rainy season. This was applicable to some areas in the state. Did anybody use any deprecating statements like ‘we will cause anarchy in the state if the Amaechi administration does not see to the plight of the affected areas’? I think we must learn how to use words properly, while expressing our views, because we have those who are looking upto us as their role models. Even if we do not have followership, our kiths and kins are watching us, and might put the type of words that come out of our mouths into action by tommorrow. This is how serene society turns to an unruly one, and people will begin to shout: when did we get to this stage.
I will not rule out the fact that there are pressures that are associated with office positions. These can put unwanted statements into the mouths of the office holders, but what makes a man is not the size of his portfolio, but the content in the portfolio. It is as a result of this that my Igbo people would say that a man is not known for frivolous words, but women are known.
It was against this influence that Ram was killed in those days at the burial rituals of a full-aged man, because Ram does not make much noise, but Goat does. Goat was killed at the burial rituals of women, because she makes a lot of noise. However, I would not know from where men learn to talk and gossip more than women these days. Doubting Thomases who might say that Amaechi couldn’t have said such, they might read the following lines in Amaechi’s own words: “We will be ruthless in tax collection in the coming year; everybody must pay their tax, we will amend the law to ensure that those who don’t pay taxes will go to jail, that’s the way the law will be.”
Does Amaechi think that jailing persons can make them better persons in the society? It is obvious that there are movements to develop Rivers State, but the state is struggling with development. This could have not been yet achieved, because of the mindset that the present crop of leaders came to power with. How can anybody be using words as if Rivers State is a military cantonment? And even if there were developments, does a man sing his own praise? Despite that, I must commend Amaechi for saying that Rivers people who are known to be collecting taxes on the road will be stopped and that of any forms of multiple-taxation.
While the taxation bill is with the Rivers State House of Assembly and being expected to be passed into law, the authorities concerned with this taxation bill should not be brutish like its proponent, in carrying out their people-given functions. They should have it at the back of their heart that we are not in the military era, when people were harassed physically or with debasing words such as “ruthless” and people didn’t dare challenge.
Amaechi should borrow a leaf from his admonishment to the judiciary: the profession needed a change of attitude. I strongly believe that as individuals or group, a change in attitude should be a recurring decimal. As individuals or group, we need attitudinal change that will not instill tensions and anxieties in the environment. There are other better ways to emphasize authority without sounding like one Adolph Hitler.
Amaechi should understand that there is what is known as leadership discipline. This translates to followership or un-followership. I don’t think he expected the judiciary to be “ruthless” with its dispensation of cases in its courts of law, when he said that there had been delayed cases in the courts. Being “ruthless” in collecting taxes in the state is not the same as telling a judge to make sure that he or she sits in the court punctually.
Punishing people for the wrongs caused by the authorities, I do not think, has ever created a chastised world; it has only bred fears and hate. But when you politely address the people without aequivocation, they tend to pay heed. Can Amaechi send the taxation bill to the Rivers State House of Assembly and at the same time tell the House what laws it should or not infuse in the bill? Rivers residents are not animals, even if they are seen as animals, there are certain words or statements that are avoided in sanctified societies on animals.
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