By Obinna Amaobi, Abuja
Revenue generation is not an easy task anywhere in the world, particularly in Nigeria and Africa where many individuals and corporate entities still sees paying taxes as a burden rather than a responsibility, says International Group, Global Peace Movement International, a United Kingdom based Group.
These declarations are coming in the light of recent developments over presumed dwindling revenue generation from tax and revenue collections in Nigeria, a situation that compelled the International Group has risen to the defense of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS), and its leadership, with the call for Nigerians to support the agency in its given mandate.
Making these declarations during an interaction in Abuja following his recent working visit to Nigeria, The President General of Global Peace Movement International (UK), Dr Mike Uyi, said it was obvious the challenges Nigeria is grappling with from tax revenue was due mainly to the apathy Nigerians have towards the issue of tax payments, alongside the endless shenanigans to avoid that responsibility.
He reminded Nigerians that paying tax was a civic and compulsory responsibility for any responsible citizen or corporate entity, pointing out the FIRS, from his observation, has been very innovative and proactive in its approaches to generating tax revenues; a situation he said has led to steady and sustainable increase in revenue generation for Nigeria.
According to the GPMI President General, there are usually not much questions or arguments when one talks about revenue agencies or revenue generation, because the very first thing that is looked at are the figures; and the figures over the period, since Babatunde Fowler became the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service has consistently grown especially in the non-oil sector.
“Global Peace Movement International operates in more than 25 nations of the world, and when the news broke then that Dr. Babatunde Fowler has been appointed the Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) by President Muhammadu Buhari, the acclamation and reports I got from my members around the world and from Nigeria also was that President Buhari has indeed put a square peg in a square hole.
“From the reports I got, Fowler successfully re-engineered Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue to become autonomous by ensuring the passage into law of Lagos State Administration Revenue Administration Law in 2006 (the first revenue board to become autonomous in Nigeria). The rest for Lagos revenue became history”.
According to him, Fowler achieved this feat by ensuring quality service delivery and upscaling other tools and methods of tax administration in Lagos state, a strategy he has brought to bear in ensuring the FIRS meets its responsibilities.
This landmark achievement, Dr Uyi explained, made Lagos state the only state in Nigeria that generates internal revenue more than monthly allocation from Federal Government of Nigeria.
Urging Nigerians to look beyond politics and give adequate support to those working hard to make the country greater, the GPMI President General said it was obvious from the FIRS’s Chairman performance so far that Fowler will push for the implementation of National Tax Policy in order to increase the nation’s tax base, review tax waivers and exemptions particularly those of pioneer status, and execute all measures that will increase federally collectable revenue to enable the Federal Government meet up with the ever rising demands of Nigerian people.
“It will definitely be challenging, but he has done it before and he can do it again, even more”, Dr Mike said.
Nonetheless, a look-in by our correspondent revealed that the FIRS Under Fowler in 2018 achieved the highest revenue collection in the history of Nigeria (N5.3 trillion). Out of which 53.7 per cent came from the non-oil sector.
It was also observed, just like the GPMI’s President General pointed out, that the new vision of FIRS, which is to be more customer-friendly, more convenient, more transparent in our operations, and deploying technology was already in place and effectively yielding great output for the benefits of Nigerians.
At the FIRS, it was observed all systems where all tax activities are conducted can be done online;, including from registering your company with the Corporate Affairs Commission, (CAC) to downloading tax identity, or making any payment online.
Highlighting these innovations by FIRS to buttress his points, Dr Uyi said his investigations revealed that FIRS has in the past few years recorded laudable achievements despite a challenging economy.
“ The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) under the under the leadership of the Executive Chairman, Babatunde Fowler has remained focused, ensuring that the Federation is funded, free from total dependence on oil revenue”, he added.