The Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, has said that insecurity remains the greatest challenge in the state, recalling how seven local government areas, mostly Anambra South Senatorial zone, were under siege prior to his assumption of office in March 2022.
Soludo stated these on Monday, during his quarterly interactive session with ndị Anambra on ABS TV.
He added that both the state and federal governments have been working to tackle the insecurity, adding that so far, there has been an improvement.
He said, “We have over 1,000 Anambra vigilante personnel. There is a significant difference in security between when I took over the office and now.
“We are determined that the state will be completely secure. Over 5,000 youths have been empowered, and 5,000 teachers have been hired.
“On the issue of Nnamdi Kanu, his release does not mean that insecurity will be completely eliminated.
“The call is in the best interest of the South East as a whole. He was saddened by the level of crime associated with the agitation when I visited him in prison. He called it an abomination.
“Everyone has now become freedom fighters, using it as an avenue to commit a crime. The truth is that if he is released, he will be able to distinguish between genuine freedom fighters and criminals.
“What is still holding him back is a political issue!” I am awaiting confirmation of appointment with the President to hand him the letter officially.”
Concerning the government policies and tax exemptions for vulcanizers, traders, and hawkers, the governor said that anything involving money always makes some people nervous.
The governor emphasised that there’s no great country where people don’t pay taxes, adding that people pay between 20 per cent to 30 per cent of their income as tax, “but in our country, oil money came and we forgot taxes are used to develop the state. Our people want everything free – electricity, infrastructure, water, etc.
“Developed countries pay taxes! People in the United Kingdom pay road tax, waste tax, tenant rate, and so on. This was how the government used to function. Nigeria used taxes to build the country many years ago.
“Oil money is running out. Take a look at Lagos; they used taxation to get to where they are now.
“They made N65bn last year and plan to make N100bn this year. We made a paltry N20bn in Anambra last year.
“In our income, the percentage income is 0.2 per cent, not up to one per cent, implying that 99.8 per cent is in the hands of private individuals.
“The road we are constructing in Amansea, Awka North alone costs more than what we made last year, and all communities require road infrastructure. If everyone pays just five per cent of their income, we’ll be close to earning N300bn annually.
“We stated that we would have a tax system. Keke, minibus, and okada drivers must pay their fair share, but it is unfair for the poor to pay more than the rich, which is why we called a meeting with Keke riders, who proposed paying N10,000 per month but prefer to pay weekly with insurance attached.
“But the rich man who drives a jeep or owns a large shop pays N 12,000; where is the justice in that? Ndi Anambra who live in other states or abroad should have a way of contributing their taxes.
“If you pay N100,000 in Lagos, you should pay N50,000 in Anambra. Our people who live in Lagos and other states want good roads, but how much tax do they pay? Ndi Anambra are expected to pay their taxes both those living at home and abroad because we want a very fair and progressive tax system.
“We applied for a loan but we are yet to access it! We are managing our limited resources and accounting for every Kobo spent.
“Yes! We said that vulcanizers, hawkers, and traders should not pay taxes, and that is how it should be.
“We projected N4 billion per month, but we only made N2 billion in January this year, so we haven’t made much progress,” the Governor stressed.
On touting, the Governor stressed that it is not a profession, claiming that the majority of the touts do nothing else for a living.
“We want a tax system where there won’t be touts but it can’t be accomplished in a day.
“If you’ve been listening to the news, you’ll know that we caught nearly 80 of them at Upper Iweka during the Christmas season. We discovered that the majority of them do not have addresses when they were charged in court. We’re catching them one by one.
“If there were 1,000 of them before, they are now drastically fewer. It has almost become a culture in the state, but I can tell you that most of our prisons are now overcrowded with touts, including those awaiting trials.
“I must use this occasion to plead that ndi Anambra no longer want touts in the state. They can move to another state to continue their business. Touts have no place in the tax system that we are implementing in Anambra.
“Anambra must be a liveable and prosperous homeland. We are going after them but they won’t disappear overnight,” emphasised the governor.
While emphasising that election will be held next week, followed by another, two weeks after, Soludo recalled that he provided a level playing field to all political parties, and urged ndi Anambra to come out en masse and vote for APGA candidates.
“As the leader of APGA, I have the primary responsibility to protect and promote all APGA candidates because I need a team to work with.
“As governor of Anambra, I implore ndi Anambra to come out en masse to vote for APGA. By March 17, we will be 12 months in office and I shall address ndi Anambra,” he stated.