Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos, says his state never received any part of the ecological fund from the administration of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan “due to political consideration”.
The governor said his government is willing to tackle the impact of torrential rainfalls which has caused flooding in the state but it has limited resources.
Speaking at a sensitisation workshop on water technology and environmental control exhibition and conference (WATEC), Ambode said Lagos residents should have a wilful approach to the payment of taxes.
He said consistent payment of tax would help address fundamental challenges confronting the state and accelerate development in all sectors and sections.
According to the governor, less than 600,000 out of the 22 million residents in the state pay tax.
“The number of people paying taxes in Lagos is less than 600,000 people and we are 22 million and then 67 percent of the people living in Lagos are below the age of 35 and even the retirees, how much are they paying? They are on pension. So, you have to go through your nose and you want to be as compassionate as possible that in a recession, you don’t over tax people,” Ambode said.
“What I am saying is that there must be a convergence between civic obligations and the ability of government to build trust and be able to tell people that you know what, the little that you are giving me, I will use it judiciously. When I use it judiciously and you see it overtime, trust me, if you pay more, I will do more.
“Obviously, the vision is there, the plan is there but again it is not driven by anything than the citizens themselves and the area that we need improvement is for citizens to have trust or confidence that the taxes they are paying will be returned back in terms of infrastructure but I can tell you that I am also concerned; I see a lot of things I don’t like but I am inhibited by the amount of money I have.
“Talking about protecting our shoreline, I want to tell you something. The ecological fund that someone talked about does not exist because the previous government, due to political consideration, never gave Lagos anything and protecting the shoreline runs into billions.
“Even doing those groins not to allow the water to break cost a lot of money and then with frozen taxes in the last eight to ten years, there has not been any increase in taxes unlike in the United Kingdom for instance where any young person living there knows that once you start working at the age of 18, your civic obligation is that you must pay tax but here nobody takes it as their business that the new road I am using I need to pay something and so they only pay tax when they are inside the real tax net that is you are paying pay as you earn.”