Tax expert, Taiwo Oyedele has chided the authorities for giving politicians an easy way out before the primaries for the 2023 elections.
The Fiscal Policy Partner & Africa Tax Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) spoke at a virtual training for journalists.
Oyedele’s session was on “Reporting Politics and the Economy: Critical questions and expectations for Nigeria’s next political leaders”.
The expert wondered why the government offered culpable politicians a soft landing instead of charging them to court over their tax records.
Tax clearance is one of the requirements aspirants submit to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before party primaries.
“I was disappointed that politicians who defaulted in tax payment were allowed to contest. They were asked to come and pay to get tax clearance.
“These are people that should be prosecuted. If those who don’t pay tax get into office, how will they be accountable to the people?
“These are the questions journalists must ask candidates. Do you pay tax? How much do you pay? Are you public or private sector driven?”
Oyedele said it was unfortunate that government companies in Nigeria don’t perform well compared to those in other countries.
“Saudi Aramco, worth about $2trillion, is the largest oil firm in the world and it is run by the government of Saudi Arabia.
“NNPC is there making losses. If it was private sector driven, it should be making at least $10 billion annually.
“NNPC is not profitable because of the management and governance. It is now a public company but will only do well if politicians don’t interfere.”
On export, Oyedele lamented the frustration of business owners by the government, which should encourage ventures that are foreign exchange-earners.
“It is almost unbelievable the way Nigerians trying to export are frustrated. There are too many bottlenecks and unnecessary processes.”
Oyedele said as the solution to Nigeria’s problems was not just prayers because human beings are in charge of positions.
He called for the strengthening of institutions, the rule of law, and the reform of the justice system.
“This will boost the confidence of the people and investors. A case that could be decided in less than six months, takes years.
“So, how will citizens sue the government? The time and money you spend…justice delayed is justice denied.
“Also, the best bet is to prevent corruption, not to struggle to recover stolen funds. We must strengthen agencies, merge ICPC and EFCC.”
Oyedele charged journalists not to manipulate the truth, be honest, fair and ask the right questions ahead of the 2023 polls.
Noting that Nigerians have had enough comments and statements from spokespersons, he advised them to support candidates that will speak regularly.
“You applied for a job, you were given the job but you decided not to talk to those who elected you.
“What you see is office holders communicating through their media aides. And we are expected to believe that they are saying?
“So, we must ask those contesting: will you grant monthly or quarterly interviews? We must get that commitment.”
The session on “National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy: Implications for the media” was facilitated by Nkiru Aimienoho, Associate Director Cybersecurity, Privacy & Resilience, PwC.
“Nigeria’s National Development Plan 2021-2025: Lessons from the past and insights for the future” was facilitated by Andrew Nevin, Partner and Chief Economist, PwC.