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Understanding De-Clerambault’s Syndrome

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De-Clerambault’s Sydrome is a form of mental or psychological abnormality which can be caused by some severe shock such as being rejected by a friend or partner whom one had loved and trusted passionately.
It is similar to schizophrenia and can be caused by the trauma of falling from an exalted position to a humiliating status. It is usually associated with personal tragedies which reduce the self-esteem of an individual.
Although this ailment is more common among women, it is not an exclusive feminine malady, except that men have greater means of giving vent to personal agonies.
De-Clerambault’s Syndrome in women takes the form of obsessive love or “foolish” attachment to men who do not care about or take any interest in them. It is a situation whereby a woman gets fixated on a particular man, not because the man woos or takes interest in her.
It may be that the man symbolizes some ideal in a woman’s psyche but which has become difficult for her to actualize in real life. It can also be that the man that she gets fixated upon reminds her of something which she once cherished but lost in a chocking manner. There can also be a reverse form of this malady whereby a woman develops a pathological and inexplicable hatred for a man.
Medical doctors who become too close to their patients can become victims of lonely women who see in their “loving and caring” doctors the ideal husbands or friends which they failed to have in real life. It is common to find people who had passed through some trauma and severe emotional shocks, turn to the person who provided them emotional rescue and succour, with great passion. Such initial gratitude for a kind gesture in a time of distress can become a permanent psychological feature. The person who provided such succour may not be aware that someone is longing to have him as a partner.
Perhaps those who had suffered severe deprivations can become obsessed and cling on emotionally to those who offered them succour at critical moments. This is quite natural with human beings but, for those recovering from emotional shocks, there is a longing for “someone to lean on”. There is usually some enthusiasm and hysteria associated with this emotional malady, whereby the patient behaves in irrational and often childish manner.
Since their unattainable longings are achieved only in a state of fancy or illusion, utterances and behaviours of victims of this malady tend to give them some satisfaction of accomplishment. Men who are afflicted by this malady can tell pathetic stories about their great exploits which they claim no one values.
Those whose professions involve interacting with people in a state of agony usually have the ordeal of having to listen to long, winding stories about their dream. Religious leaders can arouse the emotional attachment of victims of this psychological malady. The phenomenon may get to the point of idolization of a religious leader by a female adherent. Women with troubled hearts arising from various burdens usually find some solace in religion and religious leaders whom they get fixated upon.
There is usually some vacuum longing to be filled, such that a number of charismatic religious leaders unwittingly get into some embarrassing entanglements with some female members of their church. Unplanned multiple marriages have been known to arise from such initial fancies and platonic attachments to “spiritual fathers” which can split homes and congregations.
Housewives have been known to run away from their matrimonial houses, to join their idols, not because they were encouraged to do so, but often because of some irrational impulses or fixation. Sometimes those afflicted with this malady usually make fools of themselves and see anyone who discourages them in their irrational attachment as an enemy. Their big dream is always to have a blissful relationship with their fancy partners, no matter the wider implications.
It is a pity that this ailment is rarely recognised as a mild psychriatric problem, which it is. Men who become the target or point of fixation can experience some embarrassment as some irrational women keep trailing their paths and looking for opportunities to hook up for permanent relationships. Even when such women are driven away in a humiliating manner, they still continue with the illusion that one day they would get the attention of their idol.
The situation can be more embarrassing when the men involved in this plight are married and living happily with their wives. The situation can create some scandal and discord in the house, and it is in rare cases that wives would believe that their husbands are not deliberately encouraging such women.
There are cases where some desperate women go to the extent of alleging that they are having or expecting babies with men who had never had intimate affairs with them.
Parents have been known to disown daughters because of their irrational and obsessive attachment to some loafers, when responsible men had been rejected. In some cases, the persistence, pestering and enthusiasm of some desperate women have resulted in unions that turned out to be blessed and blissful. There have also been cases where some women insist that they were advised by “a power beyond” them to seek for companionship with a particular man. Parents who were hostile initially have been known to embrace their rejected daughters and their partners.
De-Clerambault’s Syndrome and external influences
In some cases victims of De-Clerambault’s Syndrome are under the influence of some external forces which they are unable to control personally. There are situations where discarnate human souls of evil nature can take possession and make use of the brain of some people, periodically. This results in such persons having some fixed ideas or irrational attachment to certain persons, conditions or objects. There are persons of both sexes, young and old, who have passionate and fond attachment to certain pet creatures which other people would consider abhorrent or dangerous.
De-Clerambault’s Syndrome can manifest in a mild or severe manner, but it is most prevalent among women who had gone through some traumatic shocks arising from frustrations and failed relationships. The situation can get worse if the victim does not have effective counselling or close family members or friends who can provide emotional support and stability during critical moments.
It is possible that the situation can degenerate into hallucinatory tendencies as a result of inner conflicts and self-rejection. With such occasional relapses, the patient can become susceptible to the invasion of alien radiations or energy seeking for expression. The chance of such invasion by external thought-energy is greater if the victim of shock or frustration resorts to taking alcoholic beverages or hard drugs.
Even among those who turn to religion in such conditions of depression, there is a possibility of further regression and relapse into irrational behaviours. This is more so with religious sects which place emphasis on speaking in tongues, vision and miracles. It is difficult to draw a line between genuine religious ecstasy and hallucinatory orgy. For women with severe personal emotional challenges fascination with sects which promise quick solutions can often lead to contacts with the psychic world which is like a vast deep ocean.
The higher depress of inner perception and receptivity among women can become a liability capable of exposing them to an invasion by external influences. Human through-forms and emotions coalesce into invisible units of energy according to their nature and contents. These thought-forms invade and intrude into minds that are open to them through shock, fear, depression and regression brought about by drugs, alcohol or even prayers.
Broken personal relationships and disappointments of various kinds which degenerate into frustration, depression and a feeling of rejection and worthlessness, form the foundation for De-Clerambault’s Syndrome. While men in such situations can vent their emotional trauma through various aggressive activities which can include sports and wife beating, women are more limited because of a strong feeling of shame. Some men and women who are not strong enough inwardly, can turn into crimes or a care-free life which can include lechery.
Another form of manifestation of De-Clerambault’s Syndrome is nihilism, ranging from hatred and aggression towards everybody and social institutions, to self-destructive tendencies. There is a total loss of sense of values or a feeling of moral compunction. Those who carry out suicide-bombing are often patients of this malady, whose feelings of rejection, worthlessness and hatred for humanity drive them into mindless activities.
However, there is something else of a positive nature about patients of De-Clerambault’s Syndrome. It has to do with a regression whereby memories of some past or childhood bliss and innocence come up to the surface, brining tears and an opportunity for a drastic change or turn-around. During such moment, if there is an effective control and counselling, a totally new and glorious person can emerge.
Controversial as it may be, recall of past, distant and cathartic experiences have taken place which had been investigated and confirmed. Such phenomena, known as Anamnesis, have facilitated a better understanding of issues which perplex humanity. How do you explain a situation where a man who nearly strangulated his wife, shouted in a frenzy: “You were a mother who strangulated me because you were ashamed to have me as a baby!” A true case! We have a great deal to learn!
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer at the Rivers State University, PH.

 

Bright Amirize

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And Here Comes Spirulina

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Nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.
Good health and well-being is the focal point for sustainable development and a prosperous society. In Nigeria, there has been a major progress in the improvement of health since 1950. Although, lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders and HIV/AIDS have ranked the topmost causes of death. In the case of other diseases such as polio, malaria and tuberculosis, progress has been achieved. Among other threats to health is malnutrition.
Proteins are the major structural components of all cells of the body and amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Proteins can function as enzymes, membrane-carriers and hormones. As far as the human body is concerned there are two different types of amino acids: Nonessential amino acids are acids that the body can create out of other chemicals found in the body. Essential amino acids cannot be created and, therefore, the only way to get them is through food. Protein contains approximately 22 amino acids, eight of which are essential because the body cannot produce them. Therefore, they must be obtained from our food.
It has been estimated that the daily minimum crude protein requirement of an adult in Nigeria varies between 65 and 85 grams per person. However, it is recommended that 35 grams of this minimum requirement should be obtained from animal products (Oloyede, 2005; Britton, 2003). A review of the data of food supplies available for consumption in different countries shows that the per capita protein intakes in developing countries, Nigeria inclusive, is comparatively low. Not only is the total protein supply deficient but the quality of dietary protein available is inferior to that consumed in developed countries. Most of the foods consumed in Nigeria are carbohydrates which are obtained mainly in the form of starch.
In Nigeria, food supply is not distributed equally throughout the country and sometimes within the households. A large proportion of the populace, including children, do not receive balanced diet to ensure physical health and development. Most people consume the minimum level of calorie but fail to get the necessary protein and essential vitamins and minerals required for leading a healthy life.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae offering exceptionally high protein content and a remarkably complete composition of vitamins and minerals essential for healthy living. Unlike other potent sources of nutrients and protein, Spirulina is low in calories and cholesterol. Spirulina has gained considerable popularity in the health food industry and increasingly as a protein and vitamin supplement to acquaculture diets.
It grows in water, can be harvested and processed easily and has very high macro-and micro-nutrient contents. It has long been used as a dietary supplement by people living close to the alkaline lakes where it is naturally found; for instance those living adjacent to Lake Chad in the Kanem region have very low levels of malnutrition, despite living on a Spartan millet-based diet. This traditional food, known as dihe’, was rediscovered in Chad by a European scientific mission, and is now widely cultured throughout the world. In many countries of Africa, it is still used as human food as a major source of protein and is collected from natural water, dried and eaten.
The extraordinary nutritional value of Spirulina was rediscovered in 1940 by the botanist, Pierre Dan-geard. Dangeard’s rediscovery went unnoticed for 25 years until Jean Leonard furthered the work. In 1967, two years after Leonard’s observations, the International Association of Applied Microbiology declared Spirulina “a wonderful future food source”.
Since Spirulina’s rediscovery, a better understanding of its immense nutritional benefits and the potential applications as a food source has been realized. Today, companies focus on producing Spirulina on a commercial scale for human consumption as well as animal and fish feed. Governments and NGOs are working with lesser developed communities to combat malnutrition by introducing Spirulina farms for local consumption.
The nutritional profile is so complete that NASA and the European Space Agency are exploring the use of Spirulina as a primary food source for astronauts and sustaining long-term life in space. Below are a few of the highlights for why Spirulina is such an excellent source of your daily nutrition needs:
Dried Spirulina as a potent source of protein
Dried Spirulina is 59 – 65 per cent protein which is especially impressive when compared with dried soybean at 40 per cent, lentils at 26 percent and peanuts at 25 percent. Perhaps more surprising is that raw beef only contains 23 percent protein. With only 36 kcal calories per 10 grams of dried powder, Spirulina is an excellent source of protein without empty calories. Additionally, the protein is far more accessible by the human digestive system than most other plant and animal proteins. This means the body can absorb and utilize much more of the available protein with far less energy and stress on the digestive sysem. (source: USDA, FAO p.10)
Complete Source of Amino Acids and Omega-3
In addition to containing Omega-3 fatty acid, and being highly concentrated with protein, Spirulina is dense with all eight essential amino acids that the body does not naturally synthesize. Here is a list of the different amino acids and how the body utilizes them:
Isoleucine-required for optimal growth; Lysine- needed for producing antibodies, enzymes and hormones; Methionine – antioxidant properties; Phenylalanine – required for thyroid function; Threonine – improves intestinal and digestive function; Tryptophan – regulates serotonin, and Valine – stimulates mental and physical capacity.
Protein without cholesterol
An undesirable by-product of many sources of animal protein in cholesterol, doctors recommend that healthy adults consume less than 300mg or 200mg if you have diabetes or suffer from heart disease. Consider this, 10 grams of dried Spirulina (approximately a large spoonful) carries 5.75-gram protein and 1.3 mg of cholesterol, compared to an equivalent quantity of egg protein containing 300mg of cholesterols.
High Concentrations of Essential Minerals
Remember of expression that eating green is good, well you had no idea just how good it can be. Below is a list of some of the essential minerals you receive in 10 grams of dried Spirulina compared with more traditional sources:
Iron: 2.9 mg more iron than beef (recommended daily iron consumption) M 8mg W 18mg; Potassium: 114 mg more potassium than bananas (recommended potassium intake) 4700mg; Calcium: 10mg more calcium than whole milk (recommended calcium intake) 1100mg; Magnesium: 20mg more magnesium than walnuts (recommended magnesium) M 400 mg W 350 mg; and Zinc: 0.2mg more zinc than spinach (zinc) M11mg W 8mg.
Spirulina does not replace a healthy diet, but helps to balance out deficiencies and gives a great boost of energy. As an example, to achieve a recommended daily allowance of many minerals, an adult would need to consume a very large quantity of Spirulina.
Iron: Men need 2.8 tbsp Women need 6.2 tbsp (Spirulina) – comparable to approximately 450 grams for men and 1000 grams for women of grass-fed beef; Potassium: 33 tbsp- comparable to 1300 grams of bananas; Calcium: 110 tbsp – comparable to 1000 grams of whole milk); Magnesium: 18 tbsp – comparable to 250 grams of walnuts; Zinc M 55 tbsp 40 tbsp – comparable to 2000 grams for men and 1,500 grams for women of spinach.
* Note: An average tablespoon of dried Spirulina is approximately 10 grams (Source: USDA).
Vitamins And More Vitamins
Here is a shortlist of the alphabet of vitamins in Spirulina: A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B8, B9,C, D, E and K. It would take too long to list all the benefits from this list of vitamins, so we decided to highlight just one:
B carotene (beta-carotene) is best known for its red-orange pigment found in carrots. The National Cancer Institute of the United States of America has recommended consumption of 6mg of beta-carotene daily to reduce the risk of cancer. In 4 grams, half a tablespoon of dried Spirulina, you will consume 6mg, or your daily recommended amount of beta-carotene. (Source FAO p.7).
Some inhabitants around Lake Chad, where Spirulina grows naturally, have been reported to have survived in times of famine on diets consisting purely of Spirulina. Some sources advocate replacing a single meal with Spirulina but no one recommends a diet consisting entirely of the substance. Doctors and nutritionists recommend a daily consumption of between 5 and 40 grams of fresh Spirulina to support an otherwise healthy diet. Larger serving sizes can certainly be eaten to increase protein and nutrient intake.
Other Facts About Spirulina
Spirulina Has Been Found to fight cancer
Yes, it’s powerful; studies have linked spirulina to boosting the immune system enough to fight off oral cancer cells in particular. In one study, people who took Spirulina every day had 45 percent fewer lesions the following year than those who didn’t.
Spirulina regulates body fat and helps in weight loss
Green foods like Spirulina supplement may be beneficial for keeping the appetite in check. Obtaining protein and fiber content Spirulina may improve weight loss and increase energy levels.
Spirulina boosts digestive system
By increasing the absorption of nutrients from the foods, Spirulina capsules may be useful for helping the digestive function, as well as promote healthy bacteria in the digestive system, and help to improve the absorption of dietary nutrients.
Summarily, Spirulina is trending for a reason, it really can do a lot of good for the body, from being a powerhouse of nutrients to assisting the body in flushing out toxins, including heavy metals, boosting the immune system, lower blood pressure, support weight loss, increase muscle strength and increase endurance for athletes.
Oleru is a post-graduate student at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Grace Oleru

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Operational Mechanism Of Fascism In Nigeria

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Nothing can seem foul to those that win – Shakespeare’s King Henry V Part I.

Although fascism, as a system of government, is associated with totalitarianism, dictatorship and high-handedness in which political opposition is not allowed, there are variations in the application of that system in many clever ways.
Students of political science would refer to fascism as Right Wing political system, characterised by strong governmental control of business and industry under national dictatorship. Historically, Germany and Italy in the 1930s and 40s practiced fascism in a raw variation, whose result culminated in the alliance of world powers to defeat Germany and the Axis Powers in the 2nd World War.
A principal aim of fascism as a political practice is the establishment of a strong control of the activities of individuals, groups and corporate organizations and institutions in a country. It goes along with militarism under a dictator, or the use of a country’s security and intelligence agencies to set up an awesome administration in a purportedly democratic system of governance. What is known as “Gestapo” was a secret police used by the Nazi regime in Germany for the purpose of keeping watch or surveillance on activities of individuals, groups and organizations. There were also hired agents who served as private eyes and ears of government.
Another feature of an emergence of fascism is the role of some powerful interest groups, commonly known as “cabal”, who bring serious pressures on an existing government, to serve the agenda or implement some policy in favour of the interest group. In the case of Germany under Adolf Hitler, the powerful interest groups united under the umbrella of the National Socialist Party, some of whose members were money-bags, retired top military and security officers and generals.
Thus, money, influence peddling, intimidation and other antics of power become handy tools of installing a fascist political regime even in an existing democracy. The aspect of high-handedness takes the form of law enforcement agencies going against groups and unions planning or going into peaceful protests, in demand for some change or rights. Even when groups of people who express genuine concerns about events in the society ask for police permit to make a protest, such legitimate means are often blocked or suppressed. Fascism goes with suppression.
There is usually the fear that legitimate and peaceful protests could be taken over by some ill-disposed groups of miscreants and consequently result in serious security problem. Political parties in control of power can become jittery wherever there is any attempt to call attention to legitimate grievances of the masses. For example, persistent scarcity of fuel which can be a precursor of possible increase in the price of petroleum products can result in protests, with the police ready to prevent them from taking place.
Variations in application of Fascism in a Democracy
There can hardly be a full-scale fascism in the modern times, but a number of factors can result in its tactical use even in a democracy. Developing countries sometimes use the services of consultants known in technical terms as spin-doctors, whose roles involve fixing up difficult situations confronting a government. Many of such spin doctors are drawn from serving and retired security and intelligence experts, especially those loyal to the political party in power. Like Machiavelli, establishment’s spin doctors map out strategies fit for definite situations, but also warn about possible consequences that could fallow, and what to do next.
When late President Umaru Yar’ Adua was hospitalized outside Nigeria, a number of intrigues played out, especially with regards to succession. When a similar situation arose during the first tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari, there were definite utterances, actions and maneuvers which pointed towards features associated with fascism in a clever variation. In a situation where there are rules of engagement in a democracy there can be no situation that constitutional provisions would not cover or take care of.
Injection of fascist strategy can take the form of ensuring that “never again can what happened in the case of Yar’Adua happen again!..” It was obvious that desperate spin doctors were at work and, where fascism meets obstructions, legality can be thrown to the winds! Since fascism is one aspect of the game of power, those who use it, as a specific situation would demand, can always follow up their actions by other paraphernalia of power. Intimidation is a handy tool.
Professor Wole Soyinka would remind us that power is “the horse on which fanaticism and fascism ride to fulfillment”. To grab or retain power, it is obvious that treachery and deceit can be ready instruments for the purpose. Therefore, fascist strategy can be applied when convenient for the purpose of holding on to power even in a democratic system of government. Since human beings have the tendency to avoid costs, pains and penalties, an ultimate goal in the application of fascist strategy is to create fear of possible reprisals. This can be formidable!
In a democracy characterized by high stakes and huge monetary investments, fascism is a ready tool of political control. Even though several political parties may exist, for the ruling and dominant party, fascist strategies can be used for purposes of defection and consolidation. In a situation where, in the words of Dr Samuel Uche, “you are the vilest offender in one party and cross over to a certain party, you become a saint over night”, it is fascism at work.
The operational mechanism of fascism lies mainly in the application of the paraphernalia of power to force compliance to the whims of the holders of a power. In order to enforce such compliance, intolerance and high-handedness can become ready instruments, where other measures fail. Ranging from party disciplinary measures, to sponsored harassment by security agencies or some miscreants, persons trying to oppose or challenge those who hold power can suffer some reprisals if they remain recalcitrant.
In developing countries, a common variation in the practice of fascism is the creation of a cryptocracy. A cryptocracy may be understood to mean a secret government within an existing government, whose members are drawn from the inner circle of a cabal or controllers of the person officially in power. Such arrangement usually comes into existence when there are internal suspicious, conflicts or power tussles within the party in power.
There can also be factions even among members of the cryptocracy, especially when loyalty to the principal power-holder becomes a family affair. In such cases, religion or ethnicity plays a game of mobilizing support and loyalty, in such a way that old friends begin to part ways. Unfortunately there are politicians who are experts in playing the religions or ethic trump card to bend the rules of a democracy, with a combination of fascist strategies. The stake of loyalty via the means of religion and ethnicity becomes high where politics is tied to the means of wealth accumulation.
Fascism can also be a state of mind or the peculiar temperament and life-style of an individual leader in a democracy. In this case we find that there are individuals who are dictatorial and tyrannical in nature, even to the extent that their wives remain miserable and unhappy. When such persons get to power in a democratic system, they go into offices with that peculiar life style. It would happen that they are usually surrounded by persons of similar temperament, whereby those who disagree with such leadership style would be miserable in the party, or defect to another party. There would also be frequent squabbles.
Another operational mechanism of fascism is when big multi-national conglomerates such as foreign oil and gas companies become partners’ with governments. Through the mechanism of staff employments and promotions, location of headquarters and other strategies, rewards and penalties can be applied as means of expressing the fascist temperament. From the award of contracts to scholarship benefits, multinational companies operating in Nigeria can promote or maneuver a number of things in ways similar to what a fascist regime can do. The experiences of the Ogoni people can serve as an example. Let it be noted here that top management cadre of multi-national companies are occupied by experts in various power and security issues.
Role of the military in fostering fascist temperament.
Fascist temperament or life-style was facilitated in Nigeria via the military during the period of its intervention in the nations’ politics. The military is associated with authoritarianism and high-handedness; and what happened in the years after the civil war would most likely influence and infect the psyche and temperament of Nigerians, especially the young generations. Just as “the young shall grow”, so also would the influences imbibed by youths grow as they get old. Many of the politicians today were participants in military activities of youths during the era of military intervention in Nigerian politics.
Political development goes with increasing awareness of the populace, especially with a wider expansion of access to higher education. Political development would involve a continuing programme of sensitization of the citizens in various areas of attitudinal change to foster appropriate awareness fit for a democracy. But gross abuses and institutional imbalances that needed to be addressed were left to continue, which made the masses lukewarm towards politics. Survival of democracy demands the institution of social justice and the elimination of vestiges of military authoritarianism.
Therefore, what had evolved in Nigeria after the era of military intervention in politics is a combination of fascism and democracy which should have borne a proper name of diarchy.
Despite the possibility of human rights abuses and curtailments, people, individually and collectively, need some external stimulus and impetus to force them to fulfill their responsibilities and duties. Not to apply such measures, when necessary, would be to foster evil and indulgence. Nigeria as a developing nation is still held back by some deficiencies which would require some fascist strategies to remedy. They include lethargy and indolence.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Bright Amirize

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Maximising Revenue Generation In Rivers

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The issue of tax collection and management has been a long drawn one. It has been a popular phenomenon principally among the states and at the federal level. In the early days of tax development in Nigeria, taxes were paid in kind by rendering services such as stone cutting, bush clearing, digging pit toilets or water wells for the benefit of community as a whole. Failure to render such services usually attracted the seizure of the offenders’ properties which then be redeemed by payment of money.
In those days, the Direct Taxation Ordinance No. 4 of 1940 Cap. 54 was promulgated to incorporate the various Native Revenue Ordinances within which framework, taxable income was determined by the warrant chiefs, elders and other persons of influence in each community or district. There were usually native authorities whose native law and custom were recognized and appointed by the governor as tax collectors. This responsibility of appointing tax collection authorities was later extended to the lieutenant governor who could appoint a Divisional or District Council as tax collection authority. This method became outdated invariably due to its low revenue yield, and the system of collection shifted from the village authorities to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) which was established to collect taxes for the federal government.
In Rivers State, Internally Generated Revenue administration is undertaken mainly by the State’s Board of Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) established under section 1 (1) of the Board of Internal Revenue Law, Cap. 16, Laws of Rivers State, 1991. Section 1 (2) of the law also created the operational arm of the Board known as the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) in accordance with Section 18 of the law. The Board is accountable to the State Ministry of Finance. Its main functions include the administration of the Personal Income Tax Act, the finance law and any taxes or levies that are brought under the care of the Board; formulate policies that will increase internally generated revenue of the state; indentify sources of revenue available in the state; tax education and similar matters related to effectively generating revenue for government.
Other functions of the Board are to report to the commissioner for finance for policy and fiscal matters; optimum collection of all taxes; enforce penalties stipulated by law, account for such revenues as shall be prescribed by the finance commissioner and make recommendations to the Joint Tax Board (JTB) on tax policies, tax reform, tax legislation, tax treaties, tax exemptions, etc. The Board maintains friendly relationship with corporate bodies and individual tax payers while reminding companies, agencies and individuals that collect income taxes, withholding taxes etc that under the present tax regime they are agents of the board for the collection and remittances of such taxes to government through the board.
The board also reminds tax payers of the penalties consequent upon refusal to remit collected taxes at the expiration of ten days after end of the month.
A critical analysis of revenue profile in Rivers State today shows that the internally generated revenue position is grossly unfair and totally unacceptable to Rivers people.
The RIRS has embarked on restrategising its tax offices towards an efficient tax drive for the government. The service recently kick-started an informal tax drive with the constitution of a 9-member committee comprising representatives of MAN, PHCCIMA, Pillar of Associations, among others to harmonise tax payment and drive the informal sector towards improved tax collection in the state. All these are aimed to block revenue leakages in the system and guide officials of the various tax offices against fraudulent practices. It is also to make the general public be consistent in the payment of their taxes as it is their civic responsibility and not an act of punishment. It is as well a means of improving development in the state.
Of truth, one of the main sources of revenue generation of any country or state is through tax. With the dwindling economy in which the country depends on oil and gas, there is the need for states and the federal government to fashion out ways of diversifying their revenue sources. A member of the tax harmonizing committee, Clement Akininwo, during an interview blamed past governments of Rivers State for the poor tax administration, saying that the harmonization had been delayed. According to him, when the committee’s report is implemented, it will improve the tax system of the state.
The state government, on realizing the shortfall in its tax administration, has swung into action to broaden the revenue base which is seen to be recording impressive result. The state’s revenue standing was less impressive compared to the number of corporate companies in Trans-Amadi Industrial Layout in Port Harcourt, Eleme, Onne, Omoku and other parts of the state, in addition to the number of civil servants, lawyers, medical doctors, traders, businessmen/women and individuals who are taxable and were supposed to pay tax into the government coffers. Rivers State is meant to be buoyant.
It is important to further assert the need for government agencies to closely monitor the activities of tax collectors, consultants or agents and officials of the State Internal Revenue Board, including the designated or authorized banks and other collectors with a view to bringing culprits to book and thus sanitizing the sector.
According to the RIRS, government has banned direct tax collection by officials or agents, rather taxes are to be paid through approved banks. Tax collectors and agents over-inflate taxes and embezzle funds paid by the tax payers which are meant to go into government coffers for development purposes.
Many problems are associated with the operations of revenue generation visa-a-vis tax collection, management and administration. These problems are not only solvable but they run through a single cord or string as the application of one method in any one area produces positive effects on others. The RIRS has been holding series of meetings with different organizations and companies or stakeholders, all geared toward efficient tax collection and improved revenue generation in Rivers State.
The problems associated with the tax system include non-deductions. Some organizations pay their contractors or workers without deducting taxes while some agencies deduct but fail to remit such deductions but rather make use of the funds on the excuse that the relevant tax agencies or authorities have not asked for it.
Application of wrong rates is another problem of tax collection. Wrong rates or under-assessment is often applied, either out of ignorance or honest mistakes or in order to ‘help’ the tax payer whose money is being deducted.
Credit notes or evidence of payment not dispatched, the tax payer would insist that he has paid the tax, while the Board would insist on seeing the documentary evidence since the deduction may have been diverted or paid to the wrong tax authority or person. Incomplete information may lead to writing defective credit notes that may create problems when credit is to be given for the deducted.
In some circumstances, tax collectors are treated as unwelcome guests just as in some situations, several means are devised to evade tax. The tax collectors in other cases, are said to be cruel to the tax payers.
In the 1950s and 1960s, for example, in Nigeria, it was common for tax payers to create several exit routes in their homes as avenues for tax evasion. Today, such exits still exist, but in scientific forms. Government, therefore, must of necessity, block these scientific exists with the appropriate machinery.
Another notorious fact is that in most cases, the Board of Internal Revenue in Rivers State has little or no information on internal revenue pattern/operations and does not know when internally generated revenue is dropping or increasing, so the BIRS has a duty and lots of job to do as the actual number of companies operating in Rivers State is not known as well as other taxable persons. The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria has already indicated its readiness to carry out a registration of all taxable companies operating in the state. This will enable the Board to get the statistics of the companies, get the total outstanding liabilities and post-audit transactions to be able to impose due penalties on defaulting companies.
To maximize revenue generation in the state, tax payers must be made to comply with the law just as the designated or government-approved banks through whom the taxes are paid should be made to remit to the government as at when due.
There is the urgent need to automate the various tax management processes. There should be a data base on tax payers and a comprehensive list of properties for taxation anywhere as well as comprehensive information on companies and their employees. It is now time for the government to formulate appropriate and sustainable programme and policy to tackle the problems associated with tax collection and revenue generation in Rivers State. Government should work out best ways of achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness in its drive for maximum revenue generation, treasury management and control.
There should be a holistic approach to the process of governance to ensure that the ordinary citizens feel the impact of their taxes, while the people should support the government by paying their taxes as at when due. While government should be sincere in utilizing the tax payers’ money on development projects, all the technical staff of the Board of Internal Revenue must brace up for serious revenue administration drive and change their work ethic or culture for effective tax collection and revenue generation.
Okpara wrote in from Port Harcourt.

 

Shedie Okpara

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