By Barrister Paschal Nwosu
A tenement is any type of property, such as an estate or land, that is owned by one person and leased to another. Although a tenement has many units attached together under one roof, they are divided by walls to give each family or occupant his or her own space and privacy.
Tenement rates are property taxes paid by landlords and or Occupiers of a Building payable to local government Councils as part of their internally generated revenue.
Recently I conducted a study on the subject of tenement rates which has become a vexed issue because of the inherent abuses by arbitrary rate increases, failure of most landlords to pay their rates as at when due with the consequent transferred burden on tenants.
The objective of the study conducted through my organization, Centre for Development Initiatives and Advocacy was to determine the impact of tenement rates on small businesses and infrastructural developments in south eastern states with the collation centre at my law Office at 11 Ihioma road Amaifeke, Orlu.
It was found as a fact that there is no generalized systemic formula or active determinants employed in fixing the rates charged. The rates were quite exploitative and undermining the development of housing, including the development of local economy and small businesses. It was also found that there is a general evasiveness of taxes by landlords and the unfairly transferred burden on tenants as occupiers.
There are also associated fiscal leakages and corrupt practices by revenue officers in collusion with the so called revenue consultants whose roles have been increasingly challenged.
The uses of revenue agents and consultants remain the major cause of the arbitrary tenement rates increments for selfish reasons. It is also a sad development that governments can delegate their functions to organizations without mandate or legislative assent and creating the permissive leakages that has undermined infrastructural development.
Introduction to the controversy
Tenement rates are land use charges imposed on buildings developed by landlords to enable the generation of revenues necessary for the development of infrastructures and social amenities such as pipe borne water, street lights, parks, markets, roads, maintenance of drainages and sustainable sanitation services. In any system where the tenement rates and other associated charges such as the renewable registration of business remises are properly articulated by policy, legislation and honest endeavours, there are always clear infrastructural development, industrial and commercial stimulation which drives the local economy, creates jobs and promotes a spirited poverty alleviation and grass root development.
Who should pay tenement rates?
This is seemly a straight forward question which has been answered before. The landlord is the person that is expected to pay the tenement rate to the local government council or the occupier. The term the occupier may also refer to the landlord where he is also the occupant of the building and has not let or leased same out or sadly, the tenant in occupation.
However as it is usually the case, the landlord often lets out the premises to a tenant or group of tenants and thereafter takes no responsibility for the payment of the property taxes, especially in such cases that he does not reside in the premises.
Naturally, when the landlord is inaccessible or lives outside the jurisdiction of the local government, he cannot be reached and served with the appropriate demand notices and or summons. However, the use of the word occupier enables the revenue officials to hold the tenant responsible for the assessed rates in respect of the property.
The tenants on their part are not very willing to pay the arbitrary fees charged as tenement rates since the amounts are very high, annually increased, exploitative, often unreceipted, or fraudulently receipted, and or based on the evaluations of non existent market values and principles that are static, systemic and provocative for the rural dwellers who have no such intentions to sell their houses.
Who should not pay tenement rates
Tenants, pensioners as occupiers and owners of family houses should not pay tenement rates. But under the Land Use Charge law No 11 of 2001 of Lagos state all land based charges are payable on real properties located in Lagos with each local government council empowered to collect the charges within its jurisdiction as the collecting authority, a function which can be delegated to the state in writing to enable the State make assessments of land use charges and collect same on behalf of the local government councils. Can the local government delegate its constitutional functions to the State? I disagree that this was the intendment of the constitution and may likely lead to a denial of the local governments, their necessary IGR by the state. There is however an important exemption of those not subject to the tenement rates in Lagos which includes pensioners in occupation, and family houses. However tenants are expected to pay tenement rates subject to indemnity from their landlords as occupiers.
Opposition to tenement rates
Opposition to tenement rates are growing and championed by tenants and businesses angry at the excessive taxation, double taxation and corrupt practices of the revenue officials. Elsewhere in Abuja, NEXT LEVEL RESORT dragged the Abuja Municipal Council to court over tenement rates together with the FCDA as 2nd defendants. The plaintiff formulated three issues for determination to it, whether; AMAC is authorized by law to collect tenement rates? The plaintiff also asked the court to determine whether it does not amount to double taxation on NEXT LEVEL RESORT to pay ground rent to FCDA, pay taxes to FIRS, and in addition, pay tenement rates to Abuja municipal council? It also wanted the court to determine whether tenement rates can be paid to AMAC without the inspection to be carried out on the property?
Delivering judgment, DanlamiSenchi J held that by virtue of sections 7, and 303, and 318, and section 1 of the 4th schedule to the constitution, section 55(a):(5)of the local government Act of 1976 and the Abuja Area Council Act of 2001, AMAC is empowered to collect rates for the economic and physical development of the Council and for the provision of basic amenities in the council.
In Port Harcourt, the PHC council has concluded public hearing on a law to check, regulate and control the payment of tenement rates which provides that all owners of houses within Port Harcourt shall pay tenement rates annually as assessed by the Port Harcourt City Government authorized valuer.
However, speaking at the public hearing, the NBA representative OSIMA GINA urged the councilors not to make laws that will infringe on the fundamental rights of the people. In the South- East, protests has only been taken up in organized form by medical practitioners whilst the people groan and revenue collectors grow fat on public grief. The uses of revenue consultants must be discouraged in the backdrop of enabling reforms and fiscal structures of county administrations.
The South Eastern governments need to review the regulations of tenement rates and ensure that vacant houses, pensioner occupied houses and family houses and rural dwellers are exempted from tenement rates There should be a drastic reduction of tenement rates in Areas outside of the capital cities to improve housing development in these areas and arrest rural urban drift. The arbitrariness in the fixing of tenement rates can be checked by regular and physical inspection of the premises to be rated by appropriate valuations.
At the same time, we cannot but affirm the illegality the action of the Lagos state government under the Land Use Charge law No 11 of 2001 of Lagos state, in seeking and accepting the delegation of the function of the Local governments, to collect tenement rates enshrined in the 1999 constitution which empowers the local governments to evaluate and collect tenement rates in the local government Areas as specified in the Schedule of the said constitution.
This is therefore, a violation and ràpe of our constitution
The Lagos state government in usurping and performing this important function undermines the autonomy and development of the Local government Areas in the State, notwithstanding its good intentions, if any.
Corruption: The World Bank lists of Nigerian looters and the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The Nigerian public was shocked by the revelations by the World Bank, the apex international Credit and development bank which shows the massive looting of the Nigerian economy in the past decades evidenced by foreign accounts owned by the political class, public officers, and the military with outstanding performances by the erstwhile past heads of states, and the powers behind the emerging political challenges in the country.
I was devastated by the list not only because of the stupendous amount of loot lying in foreign banks and oiling the British economy and other EU nations that has paid lip service to the fight against corruption in Nigeria but also the sheer brazen thievery and primitive acquisition of wealth with its attendant stultification of our economy. It is estimated that over four hundred billion dollars made up of oil revenues, diverted international loans and internally generated revenues has been stolen and or misappropriated, most of which has found its way offshore and lying in foreign Banks.
Today Nigeria ranks as one of the poorest nations in the world, threatened by starvation, instability, unemployment, AIDS, poor health facilities, armed conflicts, energy crisis, health crisis, bombastic insecurity, and a devastating civil war with Islamist terrorists with a deluded leadership that seeks to develop the strongest economy in Africa in the backdrop of the chasm of odouriferous miasma of stifling corruption, failed infrastructures and debilitating energy crisis.
By Barrister Paschal Nwosu firstname.lastname@example.org
Culled from The Nigerian Lawyer
Do Some Politicians Think Their Country is Hopeless?
By Nneka Okumazie
Money is king, but it mustn’t always rule and it could be the line separating lawful countries and lawless countries.
Is there a possibility that the situation in some developing countries is hopeless? Is it possible that a few politicians know?
The dominant economic system in the world is capitalism. This system, for some countries, had led to progress, while for others, it has led to ruin. There are nations where everyone is looking for money for survival, comfort and for the sake of it, not money as a tool for true progress.
Businesses, projects, etc. to a good extent should have parts dedicated directly to the progress of that country. Others should bear indirect importance.
However, in any country, where businesses or projects bear no direct or indirect contribution to progress, such that it is just for survival or for a profit of no beneficial purpose, the country will be motionless.
There are lots of these kinds of countries where everyone hates government, but no government is more powerful than the system it operates. Most nations are weakened by a system, a collective sightlessness and a lack of courage.
What is the use of so many businesses if they cannot fashion out how to lead their country to progress, beyond just importing to sell things made elsewhere?
What is the value of business education if the knowledge provided cannot coordinate adjustments?
The purpose must not always be capital. The end result must not always be money. There should be designs for long term endeavours with people who would be ready to go with it for the good of their nation.
People of knowledge and potential are abundant in every country, but it is one thing to be smart, it is another thing to be smart and courageous for new paths for progress, and it is something more, to be smart and for that smartness to be ready.
There are many learned people who seem to be doing fine, but whatever they know or can do is not ready – in what it takes to make a difference or bring good change.
Therefore, for many, the perks of where they are are enough, but they have careers that can never take aim – at risk of losing everything – towards real development.
[1 Samuel 17:33, But Saul replied, “You can’t go fight this Philistine. You’re just a youth, and he’s been a warrior since he was young.”]
7 Ways Tech Can Help to Get You on Track with Your Resolutions
The new year is only a few weeks old, but for many, the optimism for fresh opportunities and goal setting that informed their new year’s resolutions may be starting to disappear.
If you’ve already gone off track, adopting technology can help ensure you achieve your goals. Here are seven ways that technology can help you conquer 2022.
- Stay motivated, ask Assistant: One way to make sure that you stay on track with your set goals is to stay consistently motivated. Using your mobile device or phone, simply ask Google Assistant: “Hey Google, how do I stay motivated?” You will get a list of suggestions on how to regularly review your goals, how to find mentors, how to surround yourself with positive people and how to exercise among other motivational tips.
- Set reminders, be punctual: If you’re looking to be more punctual this year, set reminders so you don’t lose track of time. You can easily create reminders with the help of Google Assistant. Using your mobile device or phone, simply say, “Hey Google, set a reminder”, or “Hey Google, remind me to attend a meeting at 7am.” Google Assistant will go on to set a reminder and send you a notification when it is close to the time. This way, you can be sure that you will always be on time.
- Eat healthy, count calories: Are you planning to start your healthy eating journey? You can search for healthy diet recipes for satisfying meals. You can also watch a variety of videos on YouTube to learn how to make healthy foods at home. Also, you can check the amount of calories in single-ingredient foods by simply asking Google Assistant. For instance, you can say, “Ok Google, how many calories are in bananas?” This way, you are conscious about what you eat, whether you are trying to lose weight, gain weight or simply maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Keep in touch, meet friends: The COVID-19 pandemic limited social activities like travelling, seeing friends and going out. Even with the recommendations now to ease COVID-19 travel restrictions, connecting virtually is still the adopted norm to keep in touch with friends. If you vowed to be more sociable this year, you can connect with friends and family using Google Meet. Just set up a time to meet and share the link with your friends to join. Using Meet allows you to save time and the hassle of planning actual physical hangouts. Most of all, it is flexible as you can join meetings on the go from your mobile devices, on the Meet app or Gmail.
- Learn something new: If your goal for 2022 was to increase your knowledge on a subject matter, learn new interesting things or develop a skill, YouTube videos are a treasure trove of knowledge. For instance, you can watch videos that teach you how to play an instrument, cook like a pro, learn video editing or photography. There are lots of videos on YouTube that can help you take the initiative to learn without the assistance of anyone. If you plan to accelerate your digital skills as well, for your business or career, the Google digital skills for Africa program offers free online training.
- Fitness goals, workout devices: Improve your workouts by connecting a fitness device to your Android phone. There are a host of devices from fitness watches, to heart rate monitors or foot pods that will pair with thousands of apps available in the Play Store, to help you reach your fitness goals. Throw in a YouTube playlist of your favourite songs, and you’re sure to get your heart rate up in no time.
- Explore new destinations: Whether you are planning to travel out of the country or just to explore more local destinations this year, Google Maps helps beyond just providing navigation, getting alternative routes and real-time information about traffic jams. You can also search for exciting places such as restaurants, parks, tourist attractions, cultural sites, beaches and natural areas that you would like to visit.
For your resolutions to be successful, they should follow the SMART principle and be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound bound. Technology provides the tools for you to tackle your goals in the smartest way possible.
2023: North Central, PDP and the Coming Victory
By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
History does matter and has shown clearly that ordinary calculation can be upturned by extraordinary personalities. Working under this assumption, it will not be considered an overstatement to conclude that the People Democratic Party (PDP) is set to upturn the present political calculation in Nigeria.
For the sake of clarity, it is important to underline that the above assertion is not anchored on, or a function of the below-average performance of the current federal government which daily manifests in areas such as; ‘continued state of insecurity in the country, the persistent and ceaseless flow of Nigerians blood on a daily basis in many parts of Nigeria, the near-collapse of the security situation in Nigeria, their inability to manage the nation’s economy and develop the oil-rich but socioeconomically backwards Niger Delta’.
Rather, the present intervention is predicated on far-reaching decisions, people–purposed steps and result-oriented actions and inactions recently taken by the party, the PDP.
Essentially, the party aside from demonstrating that it owes its growth and success in the forthcoming 2023 general elections to certain causative factors, Nigerians with discerning minds and development professionals now believe that PDP has finally become reputed for being development-focused and ready to provide good governance.
If it continues on this pedestal, it will definitely lead to victory in the forthcoming 2023 general election and see the Party form government at the centre, they concluded.
To validate that this claim is not misleading, this piece will not only add context to the discourse but spread out with examples of developments.
First and very fundamental is the recently held seamless, rancour-free and credible convention by the party, an exercise that led to the emergence of a former Senate President, Iyorcha Ayu, from Benue State, North Central zone as the party’s National Chairman.
Worthy of commendation is that this success was achieved at a time when other parties in the country, including the ruling party, are still experiencing challenges organizing their convention, Mr Iyorchia Ayu-led National Executive Committee is already hitting the ground running with respect to repositioning the PDP into a credible vehicle for RESCUING and REBUILDING Nigeria which, according to the PDP, has been battered by a bad economy, insecurity, unemployment and other social ills by the incompetent and inept APC administration.
From the above flows the second factor and actor propelling the belief of a PDP likely victory in the forthcoming general election in the country. This particular ‘concern’ has to do with the fresh in-road made by the party in the North Central part of the country. This current ‘onslaught’ is spearheaded by Samuel Ortom, the Governor of Benue state.
Ortom, as we know, is the only PDP Governor in the whole North-Central political zone. That notwithstanding, he has achieved so many feats and firsts for himself, the state and the political zones. He has promoted tirelessly the party not just in his state but the political zone.
Today, through his ceaseless effort, meetings and consultation with PDP stakeholders from the zone with support coming from the new National Chairman, political alignments and realignments across all the states of the zone is now the order of the day.
The North Central has more or less become a PDP zone as those who were initially deceived in 2015 and have remained in darkness appear to have finally seen the light and known the truth. They are now willing to switch to the PDP in readiness for the 2023 general election.
The people of the zone seems to have come to terms that behind every major socioeconomic and security failure in the last seven years in the country, lies a failed decision by the government at the centre, and behind every failed decision lies a government that failed its people- a government that did not carry out its duty properly, and having made the wrong decision or delaying the process.
Beyond the party’s achievement in the North Central, there are in fact other glaring reasons that will work in PDP’s favour.
This piece/intervention may not be alone with the above position. The communiqué issued by the PDP Governors Forum after their recently-held crucial meeting on Monday, January 17, 2022, at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, not only speaks volumes but supports this position.
The party spoke the mind of Nigerians.
Fundamentally, let us begin to address the content of the PDP Governors’ communiqué by repeating some points already made in the areas of insecurity, economy among others, as it says something new and different.
Beginning with the economy, the party said in part; The Nigerian economy has continued to deteriorate and Nigerians have become numb and accustomed to bad economic news as exemplified by the inconsistent and differential exchange rate regime, high-interest rates, unsustainable unemployment figures and borrowing spree some of which have not been applied to important projects, and other bad economic indicators.
In particular, it is clear that the APC Government is a massive failure when compared with the records of PDP in government. The PDP handed over a $550 billion economy (the largest in Africa), but under APC, Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world.
In 2015, under PDP, the exchange rate was N198 per Dollar, it is now under APC almost N500 to a Dollar; In 2015, the unemployment rate was 7.3% under PDP, it is now 33%, one of the highest in the world under APC; In 2015, the Pump price of Petroleum was N87 per litre, it is now N165 per litre and climbing under APC. Debt servicing now under APC takes over 98% of the Federal budget. The tales of woe are endless.
Undoubtedly, this piece and of course the world is in agreement with the above analysis by the party.
And among all the reasons, deep-seated is the prevailing harsh economic situation in the country, a state of depression, and proliferation of insecurity in the country which today typifies Nigeria as a country in dire need of peace and social cohesion among her various socio-political groups. Over the years, myriads of socio-political contradictions have conspired directly and indirectly to give the unenviable tag of a country in constant search of social harmony, justice, equity, equality, and peace.
On insecurity in the country, the PDP spoke what has been on the minds of Nigerians as they (PDP EXCO) lamented the continued state of insecurity in the country, the persistent and ceaseless flow of Nigerians blood on a daily basis in many parts of Nigeria, the near-collapse of the security situation in Nigeria. The strategies to confront terrorists, kidnappers, bandits and other criminals are still a major problem of the APC administration.
The situation says something more.
To be continued.
Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). He could be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.
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