THE Trade Union Congress, TUC, of Nigeria, presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 elections, Mr Peter Obi, and the Coalition of Northern Group, CNG, have condemned the cybersecurity levy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

While TUC described the levy expected to take effect within two weeks from May 6, as a vexatious extortion of the masses that should not be allowed to stand, Obi saw the new levy as one tax too many.

Similarly, the Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, outrightly rejected the proposed levy, saying it would worsen the already bad economic situation of Nigerians.

The TUC, which also took a swipe at President Bola Tinubu’s administration for policies that had brought pain, anguish and sorrow to Nigerians, gave the federal government an ultimatum to give marching orders to the CBN to immediately withdraw the circular and cancel the planned levy.

The labour movement threatened that if the planned implementation of the 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy was not cancelled, it have no other option than to mobilize all its members, stakeholders and the entire masses to embark on the immediate protest that would culminate in a total shutdown of the nation’s economy.

In a statement signed yesterday by the President, Comrade Festus Osifo, the TUC alleged that so many policies of the government were not only imposing hardship on downtrodden Nigerians but also businesses, as some of them were shutting down because of the unfriendly business environment.

The statement entitled, “Cybersecurity Levy: This Extortion is Vexatious and will not stand,” read: “The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, has received with rude shock the recent directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in a circular to banks imposing a 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy on almost all electronic transactions.

“It is, indeed, illogical that this is coming at a time Nigerians are grappling with the high cost of living that is imposed by the devaluation of the naira, hyper hike in the cost of petrol, supersonic increment in the cost of electricity tariff, etc.

“We are quite disturbed that since the inception of this administration, its policies have brought pain, anguish and sorrow to Nigerians. Whereas a bank account holder in Nigeria today is currently charged stamp duty, transfer fee, VAT on transfer fee, and all forms of account maintenance levies by both government and the banks, this burden seems not to be enough as the government is poised to inflict further pain on the already battered Nigerians.”

It accused the National Assembly of not being alive to its responsibilities, alleging that the federal lawmakers conspired with those exploiting the masses to inflict more pain on them.

TUC stated further: “The National Assembly that ought to be the bastion of democracy and the protector of the citizens oftentimes engages in collusion with elements within the executive to exploit the people.

“How can such obnoxious law see the light of day in a truly people-oriented legislative house? This is indeed, a conspiracy of the oppressors against the masses and citizens of this country and it must be resisted by all well-meaning Nigerians.
“Financial analysts have done a preliminary estimate, using the 2023 online transfer volume in Nigeria that fell within these categories and put the value at over N2 trillion. What kind of cybercrime are we fighting with this humongous amount of money?

“This ugly development will further encourage people to hoard cash at home, reduce financial inclusion, increase poverty and exacerbate the misery index.

“The cost of living is at an all-time high, food inflation is biting, all contributing to the miserability of Nigerians. This act is viewed as a deliberate plot to continue to drain Nigerians of their hard-earned money and we kick against this vehemently.”

“We call on the federal government to give a marching order to the Central Bank of Nigeria to immediately withdraw the circular and cancel the planned levy forthwith; failure of which we will be left with no option than to mobilize all our members, stakeholders and indeed the entire masses to embark on the immediate protest that would culminate into the total shutdown of the Nigerian economy as this is one exploitation too many. Enough is enough, Nigerians must breathe! This extortion must stop,” TUC added.

Cyber security levy’ll push more Nigerians into poverty – Obi

On his part, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi, described the newly introduced Cyber security levy by the President Bola Tinubu-led Federal Government, as one tax too many, noting that it was ill-conceived and designed to milk a dying economy.

Obi, who stated this in a series of tweets on his X handle, yesterday, said instead of nurturing the economy back to health and growth, the current administration with its multiple taxation, was more interested in heaping additional burdens on Nigerians already under severe economic stress.

He said: “The introduction of yet another tax, in the form of cybersecurity levy, on Nigerians who are already suffering severe economic distress is further proof that the government is more interested in milking a dying economy instead of nurturing it to recovery and growth.

“This does not only amount to multiple taxation on banking transactions, which are already subject to various other taxes including stamp duties but negates the government’s avowed commitment to reduce the number of taxes and streamline the tax system.

“The imposition of a cybersecurity levy on bank transactions is particularly sad, given that the tax is on the trading capital of businesses and not on their profit, hence it will further erode whatever is left of their remaining capital, after the impact of the naira devaluation and high inflation rate.

“It is inconceivable to expect the suffering citizens of Nigeria to separately fund all activities of the government.

“Policies such as this not only impoverish the citizens but also make the country’s economic environment less competitive.

“At a time the government should be reducing taxes to curb inflation, it is, instead introducing new taxes. And when did the office of the NSA become a revenue-collecting center?

“Why should that purely national security office receive returns on a specific tax as stated in the new cybersecurity law?”

CBN’s cybersecurity levy, unacceptable extortion — Northern coalition

Similarly, the Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, also rejected the proposed imposition of a 0.5% cyber security levy on every electronic transaction in the Nigerian banking system by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

A statement by the National Coordinator, CNG, Comrade Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, said the levy could worsen the plight of many Nigerians already going through tough economic conditions.

He said: “This levy, which is expected to be effective within the next two weeks, exemplified the federal government’s lack of compassion and empathy to the plight of Nigerians in the face of the current economic hardship.

“It is crass heartlessness that is the sequel to fuel subsidy removal which now made fuel above N1000 per litre and electricity tariff’s abrupt soaring that is tantamount to another daily-light extortion in the offing by the government that came to be through democratic processes.

“The CNG describes the policy as totally unacceptable extortion that is callously being burdened on Nigerians who are already suffering from neoliberal exploitations through the government’s thoughtlessness to the plight of the downtrodden.
“We believe this additional charge is completely unjustifiable as Nigerians are already being fleeced through collection of stamp duty, transfer fee, VAT, and SMS charges in the Nigerian banking sector.

“While we concur that securing our cyberspace is paramount, that can only be justified as a corollary to the stabilization of the economy and improvement of the standard of living of Nigerians.

“Even at that, the current 0.5% per cent is quite exorbitant in a country that has not fully implemented N30,000 minimum wage but has reportedly raised the disposable income of members of the National Assembly.

“We regret that the government had already strangled the people from any derivable benefit in healthcare, education, fuel subsidy and agriculture to the point that millions of Nigerians cannot afford decent living in whatever form.

“The CNG observes that Nigerians are already swimming in despicable stringent conditions consequent to the government’s ill-advised policies that have weakened people’s purchasing power.”

The coalition further said:

“We call on the national banker as a matter of principle and transparency, instead of further depleting the lean resources of struggling but resilient Nigerians, to provide a detailed explanation of all the stamp duty charges accrued from the banks in the last 10 years.

“Therefore, we counsel the CBN to reconsider this ill-conceived policy and explore alternative solutions that do not further extend Nigerians.”

FG releases schedule of exemptions from cybersecurity levy

Meanwhile, the federal government yesterday released a schedule of exemptions from the cybersecurity levy.
They include salary payments; interbank placements; loan disbursement and repayment; inter-bank transfers within a bank; letters of credit; and intra-bank transfers between customers of same bank.

Others are savings and deposits, including transactions involving long-term investments, such as treasury bills, bonds and commercial papers; and non-profit and charitable transactions, including donations to registered non-profit organisations or charities.