By Babajide Okeowo
Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo has tasked the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) to be proactive toward expanding the frontier of taxation development in the country.
Obaseki gave the charge at the CITN 40th Anniversary Dinner on Saturday in Lagos, with theme: ”Evolution Of Taxation As A Profession In Nigeria: The Birth Of CITN.”
Obaseki, represented by Mr John Inegbedio, Chairman, TaxForce on IGR, Edo, said taxation was the only sustainable source of revenue generation in a nation.
He said that CITN should be a major stakeholder in coordinating the influence of taxation practice in Nigeria by getting all stakeholders/parties to work together and be fair to taxpayers.
Obaseki said the Institute should focus more on coordinating, energising and educating the general public on taxation as their civic responsibility.
“Forty years is a unique achievement for the Institute and is worth celebrating.
“More importantly, the fact that taxation has become the national discourse as we all can see now that the oil revenue can no longer sustain the country.
“Clearly, every society that is striving in the advanced economy is taxation, even the politics is tied to taxation. They know who pays what and at what rate.
“Before now, that was not the case in Nigeria, both national and sub-national are beginning to realise that is the only way forward,” he said.
Obaseki, who was the Special Guest of Honour, said that CITN stood out as one of the major stakeholders to coordinate, energise and educate the public on issues of taxation.
“More importantly to provide the needed information to the public on what form of tax to pay, the way the tax should be collected, the rights of taxpayers and the rights of various governments that collect tax.
“Also, to help eliminate areas of misunderstanding and confusion, so that everybody is on board, and then as a society, we will be able to render the services that will boost the nation’s taxation system,” he said.
Mrs Morenike Babington-Ashaye, a Founding Father of CITN, called for more collaboration between the Federal Government and the Institute.
She said that the government should put CITN into more use by ensuring that the institute was always at the forefront of all issues relating to taxation practice in the country.
Babington-Ashaye said that CITN was well positioned to carry out extensive research concerning all expenditures, finance bills and budget finances before its execution.
She said that on no condition should the government involve any external body to handle issues relating to budgetary/taxation.
According to her, taxation is an agent of change; it can be used to control the circulation and inflow of income/possessions among Nigeria citizens.
“Today, I feel so fulfilled because when we started the institute 40 years ago, no one could have dreamt that it can grow to this height.
”So, we are grateful to all who have contributed to this success – those who have worked, those still working and those to work in future.
“But, we still need to do more.
”At the moment, government still spend a lot of money on invisible activities, hiring foreign bodies like International Monetary Fund IMF) or World Bank to come to our aids on issues of taxation/budget, whereas the CITIN is here.
“Let the government at all levels, organisations, individuals make good use of the CITN.
“You can use taxation to discipline people, there are a lot of people that are in possession of resources, wealth and property that their sources are not known,” she said.
Barbington-Ashaye said that if the government could use taxation to discipline these people by taxing everything in their possession, ‘you will see that stealing of government money and property will stop.’
“These are areas that CITN can come in to collaborate and work together with the government,” she said.
The First Lady of Ogun, Mrs Bamidele Abiodun, urged the CITN to continue in its efforts to promote taxation in Nigeria.
She said she was particularly impressed by how the institute outlined its plans to grow the taxation system.
Abiodun said that CITN had all it took to transform taxation practice in the country.
“We look forward to seeing the transformation role you are going to play in many years ahead in the country’s taxation system,” she said.
Earlier, Mr Adesina Adedayo, President of CITN, congratulated everyone, particularly the founding fathers of the institute, its past presidents, sponsors, staff and all who had contributed in one way or the other toward the success of CITN.
“I must confess that it has been a groundswell of positive emotions and excitement across the length and breadth of the country in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Institute.
“May the God that made it a success for us this 40 years, continue to see us through for the next 40 years and beyond,” Adedayo prayed.