By Lukman Olabiyi Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed October 16, to rule on whether or not to discharge a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA ), Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was charged with N2.6bn fraud. The court fixed the date Friday after hearing…
IN what appears a hazy move, the Federal Government is set to commence a new registration scheme for all vehicles imported into the country from March 31, 2017. Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who announced the plan, said the scheme would be known as Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). It is expected to put an end to the smuggling of vehicles into the country through land borders and eliminate revenue leakage by ensuring that appropriate duties are paid on imported vehicles.
On the surface, the move looks laudable, but we are concerned that this latest vehicle registration initiative may be no more than a revenue generating exercise. This is on account of the fact that the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) under its then Corps Marshall, Osita Chidoka, only a few years ago introduced a vehicle registration exercise in the country.
The justification for the new vehicle registration process is hardly different from the one given by Chidoka. Adeosun has said that the scheme will integrate the vehicle registration process, shore up revenue for the government and, most importantly, provide foolproof security for vehicles in the country. How are these expected benefits different from the ones outlined by the FRSC under Chidoka? Meanwhile, it is important to ask what happened to the old registration scheme.
Was it abandoned mid-stream, and now needs to be completed? If that is the case, government should clearly say so. It is necessary for the government to clear this needless obfuscation of the simple process of vehicle registration, especially since it will take money from the pockets of citizens at these difficult economic times.
The last time, vehicle owners suffered untold inconveniences and paid a lot of money to move over to the new vehicle registration regime. If the citizens must embark on another exercise this time, the justification must be compelling. This is why we think government must move very quickly and, in unequivocal terms, explain this new scheme.
Even if a date for its take-off has been set, it does stop the need to properly interrogate the idea with a view to stopping its implementation if it is found to be a duplication of efforts that will place an avoidable financial burden on our already beleaguered citizens.
It is necessary to ask what exactly the government means by what it described as “an integration of the vehicle identification system.” How, for instance, will the planned new registration of only imported vehicles be integrated into the current scheme?
Or, will the new registration scheme eventually apply to all categories of vehicles in the country? Many vehicle owners are already worried about this impending VIN scheme. The government needs to clarify the scheme, especially its financial cost and the scope of the vehicles it would cover, now and in the future.
While we concede that government is right to seek new sources of revenue, this should not be at the expense of citizens who are already battling an acute economic recession. Our view is that it is the stimulation of economic activities that can significantly increase government revenue. When the people are productively engaged and they prosper from their activities, government will earn more money from the regular licences, levies and taxes.
Government should be mindful of designing schemes to bring money out of the pockets of the citizens, especially in these difficult times. The need for a new licensing scheme should be properly debated before it is imposed on the people. The VIN is a vehicle all-inclusive registration and security tracking system that is working very well in countries such as United States of America. But, our citizens should not be subjected to frequent changes in vehicle registration processes at a cost that they can hardly afford.
Let the government come clean on the coming VIN scheme to convince the people that it is not just a money-making venture at the expense of vehicle importers and all vehicle owners in the county.