One of the most vibrant lawmakers of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Gbolahan Yishawu, does not find the current economic situation in Nigeria funny.
In this interview with Naij.com correspondent, the representative of Eti-Osa Constituency 2 states the consequences of poor economic management on the people of the country.
How would you react to the complaint of about unions in the country that while the rich evade tax, the poor are milked?
What they are telling you is that the civil servants and public officers are paying taxes because they are in the formal sector, but those in the informal sector are not paying taxes. But I believe in tax collection efficiency. In some countries, it is easier to get away with murder than tax evasion. I don’t see why people won’t pay taxes, I pay my tax.
A lot of challenges, including the case of the abducted Chibok, Borno State girls, are bedevilling Nigeria…
Unfortunately you can see that the Federal Government is not interested in finding the girls, they feel they have paid the parents off. You can see the way they are going about it. It is unfortunate it.
The Nigerian economy is facing the toughest challenge with the fallen price of crude and the devalued naira. How do we solve this problems?
Let the President hand over because he lacks the ability to solve our economic problems.
But he has Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who is in charge of the economy…
You can have someone from the World Bank experimenting with our economy. Shell said it two or three years back that they were going to start a new system, what did we do as a nation? Rather, we are using fire brigade approach. They are now trying to increase taxes and introducing luxury tax and what have you. All these would not work. It is not the issue. If we remove tax from the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), what do we have left? We are collecting only 2 percent as tax, whereas the standard is 20 percent. Even in war-torn countries, the percentage is 11, but Nigeria is far from that. This means there is large inefficiency in tax collection. You knew this was going to happen two years ago; why not improve on your tax collection method. I am not saying they should increase tax; I am talking of exploring all avenues for tax collection. If you increase tax, then you want to kill those that are paying taxes because they are the only ones paying. Our GDP is about $500 billion, but tax constitutes only 2 percent. It is absolute economic mismanagement.
How about the devaluation of the naira?
The problem with naira is devaluation; the Federal Government is trying to use the same quantity to have more naira. They devalued the naira for their selfish purposes to the detriment of the people. My N10,000 is now like N7,500 because of the purchasing power. They have created a big problem for the economy out of their own mismanagement of the economy. Look at corruption everywhere; we heard of missing $20 billion and another $30 billion. Whether it is true or not, have they investigated appropriately, it seems this government supports corruption. We are facing a big crisis and they are not telling us, the United States of America has stopped buying our oil. They claimed that they now produce 50 percent of their oil use locally, yet they buy from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Canada. They have increased demand from those places, yet their demand from Nigeria is zero. It is a form of sanction; they are telling you that they are not happy with your government, they are telling Nigerians to do something about their government.
So how do we do something about the government?
The opportunity that we have lies on February 14, 2015, to speak with our votes. Is it transportation, oil, security, health, education, and what have you? Show me the area where this government has performed. Forget about the propaganda they are selling. Economic growth does not translate to economic development. You are saying you are making more money, yet there is no food on the table of the common man. The man on the streets does not feel richer. Has your salaries been increased in the last two or three years? Yet you want to perpetuate yourself in power.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, depends on crude exports for 70% of government revenue and some 90% of its foreign exchange earning. The plummeting crude prices have put a huge strain on the economy of the country in recent times.