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AMAC Burden of Taxes

 

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provides in the Fourth Schedule the main functions of the 774 local governments and six area councils in the Federal Capital Territory to include but not limited to the collection of rates, radio and television licences; establishment and maintenance of cemeteries, burial grounds and homes for the destitute or infirm.

Other functions include licensing of bicycles, trucks (other than mechanically-propelled trucks), canoes, wheel barrows and carts; establishment, maintenance and regulation of slaughter houses, slaughter slabs, markets, motor parks and public conveniences; construction and maintenance of roads, streets, street lightings, drains and other public highways, parks, gardens, open spaces, or such public facilities as maybe prescribed from time to time by the House of Assembly of a State.

Apart from these exclusive functions, the function of local governments shall include participation of such councils in the government of a state as respects the following matters: the provision and maintenance of primary, adult and vocational education; the development of agriculture and natural resources other than the exploitation of minerals; the provision and maintenance of health services; and such other functions as may be conferred on a local government Council by the House of Assembly of the state.

Going by the letter and spirit of the Fourth Schedule of 1999 constitution, the third tier of government has the responsibility to collect taxes within its jurisdictions and in turn provides basic amenities to the rural people.

It is not surprising therefore that the Hon. Abdullahi Adamu Candido-led Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, has come up with myriads of taxable and un-taxable items in markets and other public places within his domain aimed at raising the revenue profile of the council.

Since assumption of office over a year ago, traders in AMAC are confronted with different ticketing and taxes on various commodities including tuber of yams before the authorities could allow a trader to sell in any designated AMAC-owned market.

The administration has also made several efforts to reintroduce the failed "Park & Pay" for motorists plying roads within the municipality. However, the recent tax of N2, 000 as "Radio Clearance/Permit" by the management of Abuja Municipal Area Council has sparked off controversies among motorists and residents alike. In clear terms, this "Radio Clearance/Permit is alien to residents.

Residents in AMAC have observed with deep concern that most of the constitutional responsibilities of the Abuja Municipal Area Council have been taken over by either the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, or Satellite Towns Development Department, STDD, in the areas of road construction and provision of other basic amenities including environmental sanitation of rural areas within the council.

For example, all major engineering infrastructures in Maitama, Wuse, Garki, Asokoro and the Central Business District are provided by FCDA. On the other hand, the Satellite Towns Development Department provides rural roads in Karshi, Karu, Kuje, and other satellite towns within the municipality.

Therefore, it is imperative to draw the attention of the authorities in AMAC to note that the sudden charge on car stereo has led to face-off between vehicle owners and officials of the council, as motorists have observed that the development has exposed innocent citizens to untold hardship and harassment by AMAC officials.

Some AMAC residents averred that the annual car radio clearance is ill-timed, coupled with the fact that the authorities in AMAC have failed to provide residents with necessary infrastructure to make life meaningful.

This verdict by the people should not be ignored by the authorities in AMAC because the council has failed woefully in these areas in providing services, amenities and projects to the people and communities which they serve.

While The Abuja Inquirer acknowledges the enormous demands with limited sources of revenue in AMAC, it has been observed with regret that the various internal sources are not fully exploited and accounted for.

There are a lot of leakages from these sources of internal revenue which tend to have negative impact on the finances of AMAC, hence the introduction of obnoxious taxes.

Those in AMAC should demonstrate prudence and accountability in contract awards and cease cutting corners and arbitrary virements on contracts sum.

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