Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



By Ismail Aderemi

The traders in Ajegunle, a suburb in Lagos have been agitating against the outrageous and illegal multiple taxes imposed on them by the Ajeromi Local Government in the past 4 months. The Ajegunle Peoples Movement (APM) and Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) along with Ajeromi Community Movement (AICOM) have consistently intervened in the struggle.

The traders organized under the auspices of Traders Union Coalition Committee (TUCC) Ajegunle have made it quite clearly that they are not opposed to paying tax, and in fact they have always encouraged members to always do so as at when due. According to them, what they frown at, and will resist, is an illegal multiple tax regime aimed at forcing them out of business. Most of these traders are into petty businesses, patronized by low income earners, just to eke out a living. These are the people this irresponsible government wants to burden with taxes in order to fund their privileges.

It is a sacrifice enough that the traders had been paying taxes to government which has shown fundamentally nothing for the huge collection in terms of provision of social infrastructure. There is virtually nothing the residents of Ajegunle benefit from the local government. For instance, the public primary schools in the community under the jurisdiction of the local government are overcrowded and lack facilities for quality education, thereby forcing many residents to patronize private schools. The roads are also bad. Now, this self-serving government is out to increase the burden of traders with obnoxious taxes.

This new regime of taxes is outrageous. For instance, those who paid about N2,000 annually in 2008/2009 are now expected to cough out between N6,000 and N10,000 translating to increase of between 300% and 400%. Besides, in many cases, traders and artisans are forced to pay 3 to 4 different taxes such as “Trade Permit”, “Lock-up Shop Permit”, “Radio/Television Licence”, etc. Another peculiar case of such multiple taxation is what is presently experienced by traders selling liquor and food (which could be just fried meat) who are made to pay Regulated Food Permit in addition to Beer Palour/Restaurant license. Of course, these are apart from other taxes like Shop Permit and Radio/TV License which also imposed on them.

However, some of these taxes are not only outrageous but also brazenly illegal. Some of the taxes being charged by the local government are not covered in the Part III of Decree No 21 of 1998, which stipulates the taxes collectable by the local government authorities. This shows that taxes like “lock-up shop”, “trade permit” etc are illegal and unconstitutional.

The traders, artisans and working people in Ajegunle and elsewhere in Lagos are being burdened with outrageous taxes by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) government in order to raise revenue to pay the jumbo salaries and allowances of a large army of political office holders who have been thrown up by additional 37 local governments created by the state government. It should be recalled these local governments disguised as Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) are not known to Constitution and therefore not entitled to share from the monthly federal allocation. It is therefore the statutory allocation meant for the constitutionally recognized 20 local governments that is shared among amongst 57. It should also be noted that each local council has its own chairman, councillors and other political hirelings maintained on public funds. No doubt, the allocation is not adequate for their jumbo pays, hence the need to extract the huge balance from the ordinary people. This explains why taxes have not translated into social and physical development in the communities. Therefore, as against the propaganda of the ACN, the additional local councils are not created to bring development closer to the communities but to provide jobs for a retinue of hangers-on in the party and pay them from the sweat and toil of the ordinary people. This also ensures that the ACN has paid foot soldiers in the communities which could deliver them “votes” in order to retain political power in the state.

This has shown that it is imperative for the traders as well as the community activists to link this struggle with the need for a working people’s political alternative which represents aspirations and yearnings of the poor. This cannot be provided for by the PDP, CAN and other anti-poor parties. Sadly also, there is no such genuine alternative at present among all the political parties ahead of next general election. The traders should therefore join the campaign that calls on the leadership of Labour to build such political alternative and also join pro-people organisations like DSM, APM, AICOM etc.

However, this struggle could be won by the traders if they remain steadfast and mobilise mass support of residents and trade unions in the community. We therefore call on the industrial unions in Ajegunle and environs to embark on solidarity actions in support of the traders. The community associations and traders union should also organize peaceful mass protests involving traders and people of the community around the demands below contained in the leaflet issued by TUCC. All this is important to compel the local government to drop the obnoxious and illegal taxes and to make it accountable for whatever revenue collected.


  • For the Local Government to revert to the old tax.
  • An end to the regime of illegal and multiple taxations.
  • No to harassment, arrest and prosecution of any trader or artisan based on this anti-people regime of taxes.
  • For the Local Government to document periodic accounts of how revenues generated locally and from federal allocation are expended, and to make it accessible to residents and interest groups.
  • For elected representatives of all groups to join in the decision making organ of the local government.