Less than one week after introducing N3,000 Adult Levy in Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha, is under vitriolic attacks from aggrieved indigenes of the state who felt the fiscal measure was one tax too many.
The Imo State Government had last Friday, in a statement by the state’s Commissioner for Community Government, Culture and Traditional Affairs, Louis Duru, announced that all “leviable adults” in the state would pay a new N3,000 each as adult development levy.
According to the commissioner, who claimed that the government had registered at least 2,000 adults in each autonomous community, the money will be used for “autonomous community adult development.”
Duru stated that each recognised autonomous community in the state would serve as the collectors of the levy which is targeted at rural communities’ development in the state.
However, some indigenes are reacting negatively to the fiscal measure on the grounds that the taxes, fees and levies being collected by the state and local government officials already constituted a huge burden on the taxpayers.
An indigene of the state, Emeka Unegbu, told our correspondent that the Governor, by the new levy showed “clearly that he is insensitive to the plight of the people and also proves that Okorocha is not the people’s governor again.”
Emeka, who claimed he came to Lagos to buy vehicle spare parts, lamented that despite the governor’s claims about developing the state “much of the revenue being generated are wasted on projects that cannot benefit our people in any way. If you go to our rural communities, you will see what I am talking about. The Governor is not helping our people.”
Another lady, Rebecca, told our correspondent that she is from Imo State and that the realities on ground showed that most of the adults that are being levied in the communities depend on their children to even survive.
“I don’t think the government is doing the right thing at all. Every month we send money to our aged parents to keep them going from the little money we make in our businesses. How does the governor expect these elderly people to save N3,000 for levy every month when many of them are just managing to survive. I think the levy is unreasonable and should be stopped”, Rebecca said.
Commenting on the levy, a former Commissioner of Internal Resources (IGR) and Pension Matters, Nick Opara-Ndudu, totally condemned the levy given the level of poverty in the state.
Opara-Odudu, who is one of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship aspirants, described the imposition of the levy as a sign of the governor’s insensitivity over the suffering of the people, especially when, as he claimed, revenue could still be buoyed from other sources by the government.
He stated: “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”, Opara-Odudu added.