Re: Stamp duty facts Nigerians need to have

By Jibril Ibrahim Yero (PhD)

I read what the presidency wrote as defenses, on the Stamp Duty allegations by Hon Gudaji Kazaure. The points’ logical validity were reasonable only to a bit measure of extent – too hasty to use the cleaning towel when the soapy foam wasn’t fully washed off. 

Garba Shehu was so convincing but only up to the point where he brought in the issue of banks’ total deposits. This clearly betrays either his lack of understanding of the dynamics that generate and accrue up the stamp duty charges, or he’s capitalising on the ignorance of the mass populace to draw home his desired, directionally controlled point. What is the logic of using the banks’ total deposits as a basis in assessing the possible quantum of the accrued Stamp Duty charges? Does it works like interest charges? No!

What determines the quantum of Stamp Duty amount that might be generated is not quantum of money held by these banks, rather the volume/velocity of transactions into all accounts, whether depositing physical cash brought into the bank from the previously un-banked notes, or electronic transfers, using the already deposited money, including those conducted using POS, USSD, Mobile Apps, etc, etc; all over the country, every second of the day, all through the years in questions. 

Just imagine how many transfers alone are made in every seconds in Nigeria. Within an hour, a N1,000 or N5,000 deposited in one account can be successively moved over into like 30 different accounts. This means a N50 or N100 stamp duty charge can be generated every 2 minutes. Just imagine this happening to many other deposits like that in eateries, supermarkets, person to person transfers, and many other direct pay-ins for hundreds or even millions of buyers and sellers, vendors,… all over the country, all through the years in question; and for each move, N100 or N50 get accrued as stamp duty charge. Imagine that as the reality of Stamp Duty and then Compare it with the rationality of Malam Garba Shehu’s reasoning – mentioning only banks total deposits as a basis of assessment! 

It is sadly (unfortunate for) these highly placed people of responsibilities on whose shoulder we placed such a heavy responsibility of truthful and competent stewardship of our nation’s affairs, to be submitting to us such questionable stewardship reports. Is this the best we can get from them? Or is there something else behind the scenes?

Also, using the value of CBN’s balance sheet in discounting another probing question raised by Hon. Kazaure, is rather not a watertight reasoning approach. For those who are aware of all the possibilities that permeate all over the arena of financial reporting – the issue of “cooking the books”, “Cosmetic Reporting” and other Creative Accounting techniques, knowing that CBN can “panel-beat” it’s Balance sheet to hide whatever it does not intend to disclose as part of it’s assets, will automatically dismiss this reasoning forwarded by Malam Garba Shehu. I’m not saying that the CBN officials have stolen our collective wealth. All I’m saying is that the arguments forwarded by Malam Garba Shehu is not convincing enough to us, to infer that it has not….

In addition, the manner in which the new committee was constituted (to take over from the Hon Gudaji committee), leaves much to be desired. A thick question of sincerity automatically formed by mere looking at the composition of the committee. The Attorney General, or any other serving official of the government during tenure of which the infractions were alleged to have been committed, shouldn’t have been included in the new committee. 

Just imagine the allegations hurled by Hon Kazaure, on the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the EFCC and the rest. For government to now involve the AGF in the probe, is like taking the citizens for a ride to watch a charade, the outcome of which every step is already preplanned. Such decision cannot come from a serious government that really want to objectively unravel the mysteries behind the Stamp Duty quagmire. 

How can the truth be expected to be revealed where someone whom the probing team has earlier pointed a finger at, for siding with and shielding the accused, someone who fought tooth and nails against the probing team (the initial recovery team)? The same person is now put in charge of the probing? This single action revealed where this is really going and how it’s going to end: nothing will be found even if there’s something to be found. 

My dear countrymen unless an independent entity or individuals without any iota of connection to the present or immediate past regime, are assigned to look at this issue, just discount any hope. This new committee is most certainly going to be an exercise in futility. The answers to the probe are already made – nothing will be found, no one will be held responsible and Nigerian will reap nothing out of it other than additional non-value-for-money expenditure at their expense- out of the tax revenue generated from their daily agonizing toils. We have no weapon to fashion against these conniving, opportunistic leaders of except prayers for now.  

May God shower his mercy upon the faithful, honest and merciful leaders. May He guide the rest to righteousness too.