CSOs blame COVID -19, poor policy to inequality, poverty crisis in West Africa




The Founding Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) Dr Otive Igbuzor, has observed that the COVID -19 pandemic and poor policy responses has worsened inequality and poverty crisis in West Africa.

Dr Otive noted this at the just concluded Two-Day National Tax Summit Organised by the Tax Justice and Governance Platform (TJGP) in Abuja.

Dr Otive while presenting the Oxfam and Development Finance International (DFI) report “The West Africa Inequality Crisis: Fighting Austerity and the Pandemic ‘’revealed that inequality was one of the greatest challenges facing mankind.

He said that the Oxfam report on inequality in Nigeria documented that the main drivers of inequality were retrogressive taxation; poor budgeting system and allocation.

According to him, poor resource management; poor policy implementation; elite capture cronyism and favoritism and prohibitive cost of governance were drivers of inequality.

“The report also prescribed policy solutions which included pro-poor laws and policies; progressive taxation; combating corruption; addressing political elite capture; supporting small scale farmers and promoting and encouraging active citizenship.

“Oxfam studies have documented that there are three proven areas to reduce inequality significantly:one, public services, looking at education, health and social protection.

“Secondly, taxation, looking at how progressive structures are on paper and in practice and thirdly, worker’s rights with a particular focus on women’s rights.”

Otive said that similarly, development theorists and practitioners agreed that to improve the quality of of citizens require focus on four areas of infrastructure, agriculture, education and health.

He said that the report also prescribed policy solutions which included pro-poor laws and policies; progressive taxation; combating corruption; addressing political elite capture; supporting small scale farmers and promoting and encouraging active citizenship.

Also, the Senior Programme Coordinator, Christian Aid, Mr Victor Arokoyo ,explained that the summit was organised because CSOs were concerned about fiscal responsibility of government and how to generate more revenue for sustainable development.

Arokoyo said that CSOs were also interested in how the government utilized resources they get from tax adding that there should be accountability on the tax they collect.

He said that CSOs were also interested in pushing the campaign beyond just encouraging people to pay tax to insisting on fair and equitable tax system.

“Today we are looking at the report of inequality wealth in West Africa, what are the factors that push people into poverty? again taxation is one of them.

“If we keep on using regressive tax, you are likely going to push more people into poverty, so we are for progressive taxation,we want people to be taxed according to their wealth,” he said.