Amaechi’s Ruthless Tax

by Odimegwu Onwumere

It is good for the residents of a given society to pay their taxes, but the
authorities concerned with the management of the people must make sure that
the people’s taxes are promptly and judiciously utilized.

I am not sure that the Rivers State Government found an alternate word when
news reports had it that Governor Chibuike Amaechi said that his
administration would be “ruthless” in the collection of taxes in 2013.
Except that Amaechi was speaking in idiom, the word “ruthless” is known of
the military. And I do not think that he is a soldier, except if he had
undergone military training, and we don’t know.

As a democratically elected governor, it was known that democrats were meek
and kind. They always apply due process in their business of governance.
They also do not use certain words, which instill fear and altercation in
the lives of those that they govern. If Amaechi made such statement that he
would “ensure that tax defaulters were prosecuted and jailed if found
guilty” what do we make of his government that, I do not think, had met in
whole the residents’ expectations.

At least, in an area like Oyigbo, the place was an eyesore and impassable
during the rainy season. This was applicable to some areas in the state.
Did anybody use any deprecating statements like ‘we will cause anarchy in
the state if the Amaechi administration does not see to the plight of the
affected areas’? I think we must learn how to use words properly, while
expressing our views, because we have those who are looking upto us as
their role models. Even if we do not have followership, our kiths and kins
are watching us, and might put the type of words that come out of our
mouths into action by tommorrow. This is how serene society turns to an
unruly one, and people will begin to shout: when did we get to this stage.

I will not rule out the fact that there are pressures that are associated
with office positions. These can put unwanted statements into the mouths of
the office holders, but what makes a man is not the size of his portfolio,
but the content in the portfolio. It is as a result of this that my Igbo
people would say that a man is not known for frivolous words, but women are

It was against this influence that Ram was killed in those days at the
burial rituals of a full-aged man, because Ram does not make much noise,
but Goat does. Goat was killed at the burial rituals of women, because she
makes a lot of noise. However, I would not know from where men learn to
talk and gossip more than women these days. Doubting Thomases who might say
that Amaechi couldn’t have said such, they might read the following lines
in Amaechi’s own words: “We will be ruthless in tax collection in the
coming year; everybody must pay their tax, we will amend the law to ensure
that those who don’t pay taxes will go to jail, that’s the way the law will

Does Amaechi think that jailing persons can make them better persons in the
society? It is obvious that there are movements to develop Rivers State,
but the state is struggling with development. This could have not been yet
achieved, because of the mindset that the present crop of leaders came to
power with. How can anybody be using words as if Rivers State is a military
cantonment? And even if there were developments, does a man sing his own
praise? Despite that, I must commend Amaechi for saying that Rivers people
who are known to be collecting taxes on the road will be stopped and that
of any forms of multiple-taxation.

While the taxation bill is with the Rivers State House of Assembly and
being expected to be passed into law, the authorities concerned with this
taxation bill should not be brutish like its proponent, in carrying out
their people-given functions. They should have it at the back of their
heart that we are not in the military era, when people were harassed
physically or with debasing words such as “ruthless” and people didn’t dare

Amaechi should borrow a leaf from his admonishment to the judiciary: the
profession needed a change of attitude. I strongly believe that as
individuals or group, a change in attitude should be a recurring decimal.
As individuals or group, we need attitudinal change that will not instill
tensions and anxieties in the environment. There are other better ways to
emphasize authority without sounding like one Adolph Hitler.

Amaechi should understand that there is what is known as leadership
discipline. This translates to followership or un-followership. I don’t
think he expected the judiciary to be “ruthless” with its dispensation of
cases in its courts of law, when he said that there had been delayed cases
in the courts. Being “ruthless” in collecting taxes in the state is not the
same as telling a judge to make sure that he or she sits in the court

Punishing people for the wrongs caused by the authorities, I do not think,
has ever created a chastised world; it has only bred fears and hate. But
when you politely address the people without aequivocation, they tend to
pay heed. Can Amaechi send the taxation bill to the Rivers State House of
Assembly and at the same time tell the House what laws it should or not
infuse in the bill? Rivers residents are not animals, even if they are seen
as animals, there are certain words or statements that are avoided in
sanctified societies on animals.

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