Hon. Philip Shaibu is the Majority Leader of the Edo State House of Assembly. In this interview with Vanguard in Benin, he defended his presentation of the controversial Land Property Law, his role as the majority leader in the House and why he is opposed to indiscriminate creation of states among others. Excerpts:
People’s opposition to the Landed Property Bill
Issues of taxes and taxation are not always easily sold to the people more so that you have to part with your money, but this particular one is such that the people that were protesting against it are the people that will benefit from the tax because they are not the people that are going to pay this tax.
I think some people were using their media to pass negative and incorrect information about the bill and in doing that some of the people were agitated and some of them were also sponsored, majority of them especially those you see on T-Shirts were actually sponsored by those rich men that I feel were seeing themselves parting with some money.
Dwindling internally generated revenue and dearth of funds for projects
That is why the issue of taxation is important. Let me also digress a little bit, when people are clamouring for state and local government creation I laugh because any state that cannot within its resources provide infrastructure, pay salaries, take care of all its liabilities without external funding is not viable and because that state is not viable it is not fit to become a state.
When the Comrade Governor, Adams Oshiomhole became governor of Edo State, he saw Edo State as a viable state but in terms of resources it was not meeting its viability, he looked at what was wrong and he discovered that it was the tax. The last administration was only relying on ‘pay as you earn’ which is easily collected from civil servants and Abuja allocation.
You see, that era was the era of “share the money”, and because it was the era of “share the money” the money was coming from the Federal Government and not from Edo people. When the people now pay taxes they have the right to ask questions on what the money is used for.
In implementing the tax laws you can see how beautiful, how Edo State has graduated from being a construction site to one of well executed projects. It shows that Edo State is actually fit to be called a state because it is viable, it is able to pay its salaries.
Before Abuja’s allocation comes in, Edo State government pays its workers as at when due, there is a standing instruction by the Comrade Governor that before the end of the month at least on the 26th salaries of workers must be paid, pensioners’ salary must be paid.
That is to tell you that, Edo State is viable and that the vision to make all of us contribute to the development of Edo State is yielding dividends and government is providing infrastructures from tax payers money and truly tax payers money is working in Edo State.
Whether he supports restructuring of the country into eight regions
The issue is not about region, it is about viability which is the easiest way to reach the people and to also develop the people. If you turn it to region, or you turn it to a state, I don’t think we should be going front and back that is my own take. Now that we have agreed that we are now states let’s see how these states can function.