“If Lagos Agberos were to constitute themselves into a state, they would be richer than 35 Nigerian states, second only to their home base, Lagos state.” – Anonymous
‘Agberos’ in Lagos generate an estimated annual revenue of N123.078 billion amassed from daily road use taxes levied on bus drivers, tricycle riders and motorcycle operators in the state.
This is according to a recent research report by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).
An overview of the figures
Levies on commercial buses (danfo)
Each commercial vehicle driver pays at least N3,000 to Agberos as ticket fee.
There are an estimated 75,000 commercial buses operating in Lagos, according to the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
Estimated daily total collection: N225 million
Estimated monthly total collection: N6.75 billion
Estimated yearly total collection: N82.125 billion
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Levies on Tricycle operators (keke napep)
Each keke napep rider pays at least N1,800 to Agberos per day.
There are an estimated 50,000 tricycles operating in Lagos, according to Techcabal.
Estimated daily total collection: N90 million
Estimated monthly total collection: N2.7 billion
Estimated yearly total collection: N32.85 billion
Levies on motorcycle operators (okada)
Each okada rider pays at least N600 to Agberos per day.
There are an estimated 37,000 okada riders operating in Lagos, according to Motorcycle Operators Association of Lagos State (MOALS).
Estimated daily total collection: N22.2 million
Estimated monthly total collection: N666 million
Estimated yearly total collection: N8.103 billion
The total annual revenue from the three major modes of transport in Lagos state amounts to N123.078 billion.
The ICIR report admitted that these figures may yet be underestimated as daily levies on the transporters are much higher in some parts of Lagos including Mushin, Isolo, Itire/Ikate among others.
Nigerian states with the highest Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in 2020
Lagos State recorded the highest Internally Generated Revenue of N418.99 billion, accounting for 32.1% of the total, closely followed by Rivers State with N117.19 billion.
Other states with the highest IGR in 2020 include Abuja (N92.06 billion), Delta (N59.73 billion), Kaduna (N50.75 billion), Ogun (N50.75 billion), and Oyo State (N38.04 billion).
As the data shows, Lagos Agberos surpassed all other states besides Lagos in revenue generation beating oil-producing Rivers State by a handsome N5.89 billion naira.
Where is the money?
The report found no trace that much of this revenue gets into government coffers as the money was not accounted for in the state’s annual financial statements.
Also, the report revealed that “although the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) says on its website that ‘road taxes’ are among the 25 taxes that are collected by the state government….the government agency provides no evidence on the website that road taxes are being collected by the state government.”
The report further revealed that although some of the revenue was being remitted to the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and to the rival union RTEAN, the bulk of the money being generated was most likely completing its journey in private pockets.
“The [motor park] chairman takes the huge chunk of the money, shares the rest to his subordinates and leaves little in an account operated by his union,” it stated.
Why is the government looking the other way?
The general consensus is that the ‘Agbero-industry’ thrives so well in Lagos because it is backed by powerful politicians who call in return favours to bully opponents and perpetuate violence during elections. It has also been alleged that many of these ‘godfathers’ are direct beneficiaries of the scheme.
The Lagos state government loses a great deal of revenue annually to these non-state actors. Suffice to say that these monies could have been channelled into critical infrastructure projects in the state.
From the research data, it is also clear that Lagos and indeed Nigeria can function effectively without the need to borrow as much if the nation took the issue of taxes more seriously and plugged holes through which corrupt elements in the system syphon government revenues. Advanced countries with no crude oil resources function efficiently on tax revenues and even give financial aid to Nigeria. Why then is Nigeria’s case different?