By Kayode Olarewaju
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Abuja pledged that the Federal Government would look into the issue of illegal tax collections to encourage more private sector businesses to thrive in the country.
The president made the pledge when he received the leadership of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers Association of Nigeria led by Alhaji Ali Tahir.
Buhari told the delegation that his administration had genuine intentions to eliminate illegal taxes in the country, despite the fact that ‘‘old habits die hard.’’
The President was responding to a request by the association on the need for the Federal Government to rein in the unhealthy practice of illegal tax collections.
He said, ‘‘I am appalled to learn that these illegal tax collections still persist. Bad habits are not easily dropped.
‘‘But let me assure you that relevant security agencies will be reminded of their duties in preventing these bad practices and safeguarding people like you who go about their legitimate businesses.
‘‘I will take up all your appeals and complaints in due course and together with State Governments, we will attend to your proposals.’’
While describing the association as very important and strategic to the nation’s economy, the President said, ‘‘The merchandise and products you trade in are basic to any economy.
“The real wealth of this country lies in agriculture and livestock rearing.’’
He, therefore, pledged the administration’s continuous assistance to the sector, noting that some of the more advanced countries like Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and Denmark built their economies primarily on agriculture and livestock trade.
Responding, the General Secretary of the Union, Alhaji Ahmed Alaramma, said,‘‘Roadblocks are mounted by unknown persons on several highways including those in Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Imo and Bayelsa States and these continue to constitute a hindrance to our businesses.’’
On the 2019 elections, Buhari welcomed the associations’ support for his administration, recalling that they also demonstrated their solidarity for his candidacy in the build-up to the 2015 elections.
Alaramma said that the association would work for the re-election of Buhari because the administration has taken the country back to the path of sustainable growth.
Alaramma appealed to the President to ensure that the “union is represented on the national campaign teams of the Buhari/Osinbajo re-election movement to enable it to participate in the campaign role effectively’’.
While commending the Buhari administration for the progress of work on the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, the group urged the Federal Government to establish a food and livestock market with close proximity to road and rail around Lagos-Ogun State expressway. (NAN)