In his famous paper; “Anambra 2030: Envisioning the African Dubai, Taiwan and Silicon Valley” Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the incumbent Governor of Anambra state, who is a consummate economist had marshalled out his vision for the state. It is on this vision that he contested to become the governor of the state.
Anambra people heaved a sigh of relief when Soludo won the election. Applause and joy filled the atmosphere. Anambra people and indeed the Igbo were happy and proud. It was time to jump-start the foundation of 21st century Igbo development and implement the bold vision he had laid out. There was optimism that with Soludo on the saddle, Anambra would be the state to reckon with.
His vision as contained in his inaugural speech, Soludo had espoused the need to toe the line of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s ideology of Neo-Welfarism. Soludo has not hidden his intention to recreate an Anambra where the people can call home and a gateway to a commercial hub given the advantage of position and for this to be realised, the three strategic cities should be revitalised to modern cities and that should start from recovering and redesigning the cities.
He had said in the paper, “We urgently need to recover whatever is left of Onitsha, Nnewi, and Awka, and the entire state through a Master plan which must be faithfully implemented.”
In his inaugural speech, Soludo promised a disruptive government where he will redirect the state to industrialisation. “Such a new order will, of necessity, entail a massive disruptive change and creative destruction, with short-term pains but guaranteed long-term benefits. As a humane and progressive government, we shall strive to deliver the difficult change with a human face.” He proceeded to Onitsha campaigning the stop of multiple taxation and the use of touts popularly called Agboro in collecting these taxes which most often ended up in the hands of powerful individuals. His disruption began by pulling down buildings constructed along the waterways at Okpoko.
Soludo indicated that, “Over the next two years, many will complain that ‘it is not the way we do it’, but we can’t repeat the same thing and expect a different result. During the coming months, we shall embark upon bold but difficult reforms and these reforms may be unpopular especially among those benefitting from the existing order.” He had challenged Anambra citizens to contribute their own fair share if the people want to have a feel of his new vision. “Pay your fair share of tax and sanitation and other levies and try us,” he charged.
In July, Soludo’s administration in a press release by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Christian Aburime, revealed the new tax regime for transport operators. According to him the new tax rates were agreed by the relevant stakeholders after due consultations. Keke riders will monthly pay N15,000, shuttle buses N25,000, motorcycle (Okada) operators N7, 500, while township bus operators pay N30,000. From these collections 5% will be given to the respective unions and “every compliant commercial vehicle driver will get a free Health Insurance cover that would enable the insured to have access to basic health and emergency services in any Anambra State hospital.” On 1st October, he introduced a new tax regime for disposing of refuse for varying kinds of residential, commercial buildings, companies and others.
Soludo had appealed to the people to trust him. “I pledge here again to devote every kobo of your tax money to work for you.”
But the people feel these taxes are burdensome in that the amount is cumbersome on the struggling people in a struggling national economy. There are agitations.
Before now, the transporters paid multiple taxes of different amounts to many touts which according to reports, were higher than the streamlined payment by the Soludo administration.
These pains as Soludo had warned are coming with a review of the support given to the Soludo candidacy and his administration. The people’s support seems waning as after six months, there is yet to be a feeling of the vision in the state.
Is the Prof finding it hard to start and execute his treasured vision?
Granted that Soludo was confronted with insecurity in the state, which he has been tackling and bringing peace and order to the state, what people do remember is the pain of their empty pockets in paying what is termed huge tax especially when summed up annually.
The question asked is from where they can make gain to pay for such humongous taxes?
It only means that these transporters and other sectors may increase prices of goods and services in order to meet up with the tax burden.
As the people come to terms with the new tax regime, it is left for the government to use the fund judiciously otherwise the people will lose faith in the administration. The Soludo Solution – the manifesto or contract with Ndị Anambra should not be made a burden even if it is disruptive with a human face.