Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has revealed that the late nationalist, Chief Obafemi Awolowo used tax revenue to transform the socio-economic atmosphere of the South West.
He said this while revealing why Awolowo’s government was regarded as one of the most progressive in terms of development.
Speaking at the 20th Annual Conference of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) on Wednesday, Osinbajo said the late sage accomplished so much through tax and revenues from agriculture, especially Cocoa.
He said, “The six-year period of the Awolowo government is often cited as one of the most progressive of any government in the developing world.
“Some of the major accomplishments include the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), the 26 Storey Cocoa House, Ibadan – an architectural wonder at the time, Western Nigeria Television, WNTV (first of its kind in Africa), the Ikeja industrial estate, several farm settlements, Airport Hotel, Ikeja, as well as several industrial establishments, including Oodua Textile Industries, Ado Ekiti, Okitipupa Oil Palm Mills, Oluwa Glass, Ifon Ceramics, and Ire Ekiti Brick Industry, a network of roads across the region.
“But by far the most significant of these achievements is the Free Universal Primary Education.
“In 1952 when the scheme was proposed, 381,000 children (about 30%) were enrolled in school. By 1955 when the scheme took off 811,432 children were enrolled. And the numbers continued to grow.
“The Government devoted as much as 41.2% of its 1958/59 recurrent budget to Education, one of the highest in the world at the time.
“The Western region of Nigeria, at that time, was educating more children than anywhere in Africa.
“At the same time, the region nurtured a vibrant civil service and judicial system, which is widely acknowledged as a model, even today.
“So how were Awo’s phenomenal achievements possible? There was no oil revenue and no federal revenue.
“Free education which was audaciously launched by the Awolowo Government was directly on the back of income taxes.
“A capitation or poll tax was imposed by the Western Regional Government mainly to fund free education, despite much opposition and protests at the time.”