An International NGO, Oxfam, is advocating for a thorough review of Nigeria’s tax policies to address the current trend of burdening the vulnerable in society with higher taxes compared to the wealthy. Dr. William Mafwalal, Acting Head of Programmes at Oxfam Nigeria, emphasized this during the Fiscal Accountability for Inequality Reduction (FAIR4ALL) Media Colloquium and Exhibition held in Abuja. The event, a collaboration between Oxfam Nigeria, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Connected Development (CODE), CISLAC, budgiT, and Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, aimed to foster dialogue on fiscal accountability.

Mafwalal expressed concern over the prevailing practice of imposing higher or multiple taxes on market women and farmers, attributing this inequality to the persistent high levels of poverty. He highlighted the need for a comprehensive overhaul of the tax system to ensure equitable collection and allocation of taxes, emphasizing that vulnerable individuals should not bear an undue tax burden.

Oxfam’s vision is a Nigeria devoid of inequality and poverty, where every voice holds significance. The organization’s mission in Nigeria is to empower civil society in reshaping the nation towards a more equitable and poverty-free society. To achieve this, Oxfam is working towards building partnerships with government agencies; aiming to strengthen tax systems and eliminate potential leakages.

The FAIR4ALL programme, implemented across 14 countries including the Netherlands, seeks to combat poverty by addressing the root cause—inequality. Through research-backed initiatives, Oxfam and its partners aim to promote fair taxation and enhance policy implementation within the tax industry. This collaborative effort also strives for greater community involvement in budgetary processes, ultimately contributing to a more just economic landscape.

Foluso Adejoro, Policy Advisor for Food Security and Climate Change at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, voiced concern over the persistently high levels of inequality in rural areas. He stressed the importance of collective action, emphasizing that change should commence at the grassroots level. Adejoro commended Oxfam and its partners for their progress in advocating for tax justice and called for continued efforts to drive positive change.

Joseph Amenaghawon, Strategy, Growth, and Analytics Advisor at budgiT, highlighted the need to mobilize Nigerians towards prioritising fiscal accountability. He emphasized the importance of media collaboration, government training in open contracting, and community education on budgetary dynamics. Amenaghawon emphasized that these combined efforts would empower citizens to play a more direct role in managing public finances; thereby effectively addressing issues of inequality.

Participants at the colloquium represented various organizations, including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), National Environmental Standard Regulations and Enforcement Agency, and the National Human Rights Commission; all coming together to address the pressing issue of inequality in Nigeria’s tax policies.

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