The junior minister for the Niger Delta, Festus Keyamo, has been redeployed to the Ministry of Labour and Employment about a month after taking office. A spokesman to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey, said Keyamo would replace Tayo Alasoadura as the junior minister at the labour ministry, while Alasoadura replaced him at the Niger Delta ministry. Bassey said that President Buhari has approved of the swap, which took effect yesterday.
Nigeria has one of the highest company income tax rates globally; a factor seen as a deterrent to business growth. The head of tax and corporate advisory services at PwC Nigeria, Taiwo Oyedele, said this, noting that 354 different taxes are being charged in the country, with only four of them generating 98 percent of income. The tax expert called for a harmonisation of the several taxes being charged in the country while speaking on “Unlocking Opportunities in Nigeria’s Non-Oil Sector” at the 2019 Annual Conference of the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria. The Nigerian government had recently introduced the Police Fund Level after the president consented to the Nigerian Police Trust Fund Act, and a proposal to increase Value Added Tax is already in the works. Oyedele while noting that Nigeria was in the top 10 in the world for highest income tax rate, said most of the income generated from tax by the FIRS is from less than five of the 354 different taxes as all the states made 90 percent of their revenue from one tax- Personal Income Tax. According to Oyedele, overtaxing businesses stifles the economy and discourages new businesses from springing up, hence a major disincentive to economic diversification. Citing instances, he noted that businesses pay Company Income Tax of 30 percent, education tax of two percent, whatever is left, they pay withholding tax of 10 percent. The total is already more than 40 percent. Having a group with a holding company attracts another 30 percent. A new business is expected to adhere to the commencement rule, which ensures one pays tax twice. This does not make any sense, Oyedele said. Addressing this challenge, Oyedele advised that operators in the private sector should focus on demanding for the removal of some of these disincentives that affect business operations. The government must remove tax disincentives and the business community should stop asking the authorities for incentives so as to stop being at the mercy of government, he said. According to Oyedele, the Nigerian government needs to understand that businesses need to be helped to be prosperous to pay tax.
The UN’s special rapporteur on the rights to adequate housing, Leilana Fartha, has said that Nigeria’s government should introduce vacant home taxes to address housing challenges in the country. Farha said informal settlements house about 69 percent of the urban population. According to Fartha, most residents in the country’s ballooning informal settlements live without access to even the most basic services, such as running water, and lack any security of tenure, which has forced them to live in constant fear of being evicted. Fartha said that her 10 days of fact-finding in Nigeria showed a deep economic inequality in the country, which has reached an extreme level and is playing itself out clearly in the housing sector. She also expressed her shock of seeing that the communities most in need of protection and assistance by the state are instead persecuted, harassed, extorted and even arrested and jailed without having ever committed a crime. She put the estimated housing shortage in the country at 22 million units, which do not fulfil any housing need, with many remaining vacant as vehicles for money laundering or investment. Despite the shortages, newly built luxury dwellings are springing up throughout cities and are made possible often through the forced eviction of poor communities, she said, adding that Nigeria’s housing sector is in a complete crisis. There is no current national housing action plan or strategy. Coordination and communication between federal and state governments seem lacking. The UN official, however, called on the Nigerian government to take urgent measures to address forced evictions with the urgency and rigour befitting a human rights crisis of this scale.
Boko Haram is occupying eight out of the 10 local government areas in the northern part of Borno state, a member of the House of Representatives from the state, Ahmadu Jaha has said. The lawmaker, a member of the All Progressives Congress representing Damboa/Gwoza/Chibok federal constituency, said this during the plenary session of the house on Tuesday. Jaha, who was contributing to a motion on the need for special funding for security agencies, said the war against Boko Haram has not been transparent. Noting the rising insurgency in the north-east, Jaha said that parts of Borno have come under intense attack by the insurgents. Citing examples, Jaha said that in a local government that has 13 electoral wards like his, Gwoza, only three or four are not under the occupation of Boko Haram. In Chibok where he represents 10 electoral wards, only two are not under the occupation of the insurgents while in Damboa, out of his 10 electoral wards, only one is relatively free from the Boko haram grip, he said. The FG and the military had recently claimed that Boko Haram has been degraded and does not hold any territory in the north-east.