APC, LP endorse bill seeking to bar tax-evading politicians from elections



The ruling All Progressives Congress and Labour Party have thrown their weight behind the proposed bill seeking to stop politicians guilty of tax evasion from running for elective offices in the country.

The endorsement comes in the wake of Friday’s announcement by the Chairman of the Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee, Taiwo Oyedele, that the executive bill is scheduled to be passed in the National Assembly.

Oyedele disclosed that an amendment to the existing tax law will also be forwarded to the National Assembly to ensure tax compliance and prevent default by the political class.

The economist, who announced while speaking at the 2024 strategic retreat for staff of the Joint Tax Board, added that the Federal Government planned to set up a national tax amnesty programme

The issue of tax and party membership dues is a constant debate that arises during every major election as candidates seek to outwit one another.

Oyedele however admitted that the argument hardly holds water since the constitution doesn’t explicitly list tax compliance as a qualification criterion.

Reacting, the Deputy National Organising Secretary of All Progressives Congress, Nze Chidi Duru welcomed the development during an exclusive interview with our correspondent on Sunday.

While stating that it is one of the measures with which people can hold intending elective officeholders accountable, Duru stressed that tax evasion is a grievous crime in any country.

He said, “In any clime, this is not something that should be up for discussion. It is a civic responsibility. If you pay tax, you are now in a position to demand that the government use it for the betterment of the citizens and the improvement of infrastructure and facilities.

“Tax evasion is one of the highest crimes in the part of the world. This is just one of those measures being considered to ensure citizens don’t inculcate the habit of being accountable and holding the state accountable. It is another way of ensuring that people are prevented from taking advantage of the state as it is happening in the country today.

“The highest crime you can commit against a state is not to pay your tax. So it should not just be about people going for elective office.”

Duru’s sentiment was shared by the Chief Spokesman of the Labour Party Campaign Organisation, Yunusa Tanko.

But Tanko expressed fear that much as the bill appears promising, the FG may not be able to enforce it.

“The need to bar politicians who are found wanting are things we need to do in our recruitment process. Even before it is presented to the National Assembly, it has already been established as a fact. After all, the law says if you have been convicted, you cannot stand for election.

“The only thing we have not been able to do is to enforce it. This is because anybody can come and raise a bill on anything. But we often fail to enforce that particular law.

“What we need actually is enforcement of the law so that at the end of it all, we are left with clean people who can run for election.”

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