BY VICTORIA IKEANO
Nasarawa State can survive without federal allocation if all its resources are well harnessed, so asserted Executive Chairman of the State’s Internal Revenue Board, Alhaji Ahmad Yakubu Muhammad in an interview with this correspondent. The chairman was asked if there would ever be a time when Nasarawa state’s reliance on allocation from the federation account could be significantly less such that it could stand on its feet given that it is largely a civil service state.
He replied, “Absolutely! Nasarawa State has so much potential, they are enormous. If you look at our proximity to the federal capital territory, in fact as we speak, the FCT itself is almost dependent on Nasarawa State because about 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the workforce lives in Nasarawa state. Secondly, apart from the workforce, even the private businesses of those that do their businesses in the FCT are resident in Nasarawa State and by virtue of the residency law their taxes are supposed to come to Nasarawa state. But you see, we are not even benefitting much from that. We are looking into it.
Muhammad continued, “Nasarawa state has no business relying on resources from the Federation Account if we tap into the resources that we have at hand. The area we are looking into now is the informal sector, that area is an area we have not really explored, we are looking into it to shore up and increase our revenue collections from that area. What I can assure you is that Nasarawa state can survive on internally generated revenue(IGR) within the shortest possible time. We promise that we will do our best, put in our best to ensure that that happens”.
The chairman urged the citizenry to pay their taxes as and when due to enable the government have the funds ”to do what it is supposed to do”, adding that it is with tax payers’ money that government could provide all the basic necessities of life.
Told that Nigerians are willing to pay tax if the money would be put to good use, Muhammad who is a title holder in the Lafia Emirate Council answered that the number of people that pay tax in Nigeria is not commensurate with the country’s population. Reminded that this could be because the tax authorities have not been able to capture everyone into the tax net, he affirmed, “In a saner society you are supposed to bring yourself forward to be captured”