FIRS, The New Number One Cash Cow

FIRS, The New Number One Cash Cow

By Mahmud Jega

There has been a silent change of baton at the cash inflow pipeline into the Federation Account, the proverbial national cake. For decades the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] held sway as the top national cash cow. Since last year, the oil giant’s contribution to the Federation Account has dwindled to zero, no thanks to the N4 trillion annual subsidy bill which it shoulders on behalf of government.

Non-oil sources have since become the Federation Account’s mainstay. Four sources, Federal Inland Revenue Service [FIRS], Nigeria Customs Service, Department of Petroleum Resources and Ministry of Solid Minerals now generate most of Federation Account’s revenue. Of these, FIRS generates 60%. In other words, if FIRS underperforms, most public servants at all levels will not get their salaries.

The Federal Government deserves pity because 95% of its share of the Federation Account now goes to debt service. This amount, 4 trillion naira, is 60% of FIRS’ annual collection, and you begin to see the scope of the problem. Federal Government now commits 22% of its earnings to the security sector, the highest ever in Nigeria’s history.

Last year, there was uproar by some federal legislators and busybody NGOs that FIRS was going to spend N 1 billion to buy diesel for its generators. It was too much, they all said. Too much? FIRS has 367 operational offices across the country. Most of them are automated, hence the need for steady power supply, and we all know the power supply situation in the country, not to mention the cost of diesel, which tripled since early this year.

Any of the offices that is more than two storeys also has elevators, and many of the offices have one or two 200 KVA generators. FIRS’ huge building in Lagos consumes so much power that it exhausted this year’s diesel budget in the first quarter. But then, it generates N 4 trillion a year, or 60% of FIRS’ entire collection.

FIRS’ annual budget is N130 billion. Before you say “huge,” remember that it has 11,000 staffers, including 2,000 chartered accountants, 700 ANAN members, 500 lawyers and 500 PhDs. Before you say that is huge, the UK Tax Office has 57,000 staffers even though it is fully automated. UK citizens have a much better tax compliance culture than Nigerians have.

Payroll consumes 80% of FIRS’ budget. Every one of the 11,000 staffers has furniture and a laptop. It pays another N4 billion rent a year, for buildings that it does not own. The taxman buys 100 vehicles a year, to replace those that are worn out or accidented. It buys generators, fuels and repairs generators, fuels 2,000 vehicles, pays for labour service agreements including for security and cleaning. By the way, 380 Mobile Policemen are attached to FIRS’ Abuja office and another 100 Mopols are attached to its Lagos office.

Five days after its new Chairman Mohammed Nami reported for duty in December 2018, he was presented with a December salary bill and 13th month’s pay, bundled together, of N8.7 billion. He was off to a rough start because the service’s cash flow for that month was N7.4 billion. Plus, N28 billion in liabilities inherited from the Fowler years. The old tax accountant Nami however found his way through and today, all the liabilities have been cleared.

FIRS is now at the center of national revenue generation effort and the key message there, which its Chairman has been making, is that citizens should pay tax. No payment, no collection, no social amenities. Tax is a social contract between citizens and government; government in turn invests it in security and social amenities. There is talk about increasing the tax rates but if only more citizens and corporations will meet their tax obligations, there may be no need to increase the rates.

One of the biggest loopholes in the tax system right now is that multinational corporations doing business in Nigeria, especially in the oil and gas sector, make use of tax havens and engage in Base Erosion and Profit Shifted practices. This is a very sharp illegal business practice by which goods are imported indirectly from some countries through other countries with low or lax tax regimes, and they are able to short change Nigeria in the process. It is a major challenge that has to be defeated, with all hands on deck.

And then, all citizens should strive to meet their tax obligations. Not only is it high citizen responsibility and highly desirable for the society’s good. Not doing so could also land you in jail. All over the world, the Taxman is not known to wear kid gloves.

CITN 24th Annual Tax Conference: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Drums Support For FIRS Digitisation Agenda

CITN 24th Annual Tax Conference: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Drums Support For FIRS Digitisation Agenda

CITN 24th Annual Tax Conference: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Drums Support For FIRS Digitisation Agenda 18th May 2022

The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) has been urged to support the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in its drive towards full digitalisation of tax administrative processes.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo SAN made this call in his speech at the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria’s (CITN) 24th Annual Tax Conference held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

The Vice President was represented at the event by the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami who delivered the address on his behalf.

Professor Osinbajo noted that the theme for the tax conference, “Global Disruption, Taxation and Digitalisation: Implication for Socio-Economic Development” aptly captures the prevailing realities within the national and global fiscal space.

He said, “Nigeria’s economy is fast digitalising. The digitalisation of the Nigerian economy means that the ways and manners of organising and doing businesses have changed. Indeed, the radical changes brought about by digitalisation have displaced the traditional approach to tax administration. Consequently, the digitalisation of tax administration is unavoidable, that is why our government has continued to heavily invest in the automation of tax administrative processes and digital infrastructure.”

He further noted that the government had provided the enabling environment for digitalised tax administration by making necessary tax policy changes, developing rules for taxation of the digital economy, enactment of required legislation, and providing necessary political backing for the team negotiating the new international tax rules for the digitalised economy.

The Vice President urged the institute to see its role in the society as a pillar for the country’s socio-economic development.

CITN 24th Annual Tax Conference: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Drums Support For FIRS Digitisation Agenda, 18th May 2022.

“The possible impact of non-compliance by taxpayers—whom you hold briefs for—on the government’s revenue and the larger society is crucial and must be given topmost priority while holding briefs for them.

“In doing so, you must always bear in mind the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal in Phoenix Motors v. National Provident Fund Management Board (1993) that it is in the best interest of the society at large that government be in revenue.

“It is through this prism that I see your Institute as a pillar for the socio-economic development of Nigeria and the emancipation of the downtrodden of our society. Without a doubt, your members will continue to discharge the solemn and sacred responsibility of ensuring that the interest of the larger society in Nigeria is not trodden upon; and this you must do with patriotic zeal.” He noted.

Ekong Sampson: Best Man for Eket Senate Seat

Ekong Sampson: Best Man for Eket Senate Seat

Eket Senatorial District deserves a Senator in the mould of Rt Hon.(Barr.) Ekong Sampson. He is a man with the right personality, political disposition and qualifications for the top job. It was no surprising when Chief Nduese Essien, Leader of Eket Senatorial District Elders Forum described Barr. Sampson as ‘a highly sellable senate material – who has all it takes to be a great senator for Eket Senatorial District’. All around the senatorial district, the Ekong Sampson reviews have been generally very glowing.

Ekong Sampson: Best Man for Eket Senate Seat

Suffice to say that Dr. Sampson has always been destined to be in the Nigerian Senate as a Senator. In fact, it was in the Senate that he cut his political teeth, when he served as Chief Legislative/Special Assistant to the iconic Senator Udoma Udo Udoma in the early 2000s.

Since then, he has prepared, waited, readied himself and built the needed capacity and clout for what will be a glorious return to the Red Chambers in 2023 for him.

For his famed bridge building disposition, he has become a ‘square peg in a square hole’ aspirant for a multi diverse district like Akwa Ibom South. He ticks many boxes of an ideal Senate material.

With a Ph.D in Law and a legislative background spanning from Councilorship to Council Chairman and later as a two term House of Assembly member, Barr. Sampson is just perfectly ripe for the Eket Senate job.

Ultimately, his, is a Divine orchestrated aspiration. He is favoured by zoning, cognate experience and undoubted capacity.

He is the preferred choice of the crown, he is the preferred choice of the people. He is the toast of the Ibibio, Oro, Ekid and Obolo delegates, because he is highly detribalized and does not segregate. He is a mature, well bred politician who exudes decorum and class – he will restore representative elegance and content to Eket Senatorial District. Dr. Ekong Sampson is a champion of empowerment, albeit a silent one. He is not easily given to fanfare. He has sustainably empowered hundreds of people over the years; he is not an emergency philanthropist.

Barr. Ekong Sampson is a humble, selfless, accessible man who lives for all. Indeed, the good people of Eket Senatorial District are excited with Ekong Sampson’s aspiration because a new era in quality legislative representation and massive empowerments beckons with him.

Let’s join hands and send Onomkpoinam Mkpat Enin, clearly our best material to the Senate.

EkongSampsonForSenate2023

FIRS Lists Nigeria’s 2021 Top-Performing Taxpayers; Hails Taxpayers For Compliance, Payment and Support

FIRS Lists Nigeria’s 2021 Top-Performing Taxpayers; Hails Taxpayers For Compliance, Payment and Support

FIRS Lists Nigeria’s 2021 Top-Performing Taxpayers; Hails Taxpayers For Compliance, Payment and Support

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has listed Nigeria’s top-performing taxpayers in the year 2021, and commended them for their exceptional efforts in contributing towards providing the necessary funds for the government to meet its social contract with the Nigerian citizens, despite the harsh economic conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FIRS, in a Press Release signed by the Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami, appreciated the country’s taxpayers, noting that without them the Service would not have been able to achieve the feat it recorded in 2021 where it surpassed its tax collection target for the year and crossed the N6trillion threshold for the first time.

“The FIRS is pleased to celebrate the top-performing taxpayers who contributed to her success in 2021,” the release stated. “The Service surpassed its tax collection target in 2021, and in doing so, crossed the N6trillion threshold for the first time.”

The Service further stated that the tax revenue collection of N6.405 trillion in 2021 was made possible courtesy the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, the support of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and the National Assembly too.

“The feat recorded by the Service was made possible by the uncommon leadership of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria – Muhammadu Buhari, the active support of our supervisory Ministry, the backing of the National Assembly and its leadership as well as the cooperation of all other stakeholders in the tax area.

“To everyone who contributed to FIRS’ success in 2021, we say thank you.

“Of particular importance is the contribution of our much esteemed taxpayers; they defied the very harsh global economic conditions imposed by the lingering COVID-19 pandemic to produce a heroic performance in tax payment, compliance and support.

“The combined efforts of all taxpayers made it possible for the Service to achieve the tax revenue collection of 2021 which provided our governments with necessary funds to meet their social contracts with the citizens,” the FIRS noted.

On the list of top-performing taxpayers included the Nigeria Liquified Petroleum Gas Company Ltd, which was recognized as the Most Supportive Taxpayer; while the Nigeria National Petroleum Company was listed as the Highest Taxpayer.

Others on the list of Top-Performing Taxpayers included Mobil Producing Limited, Star Deep Water Petroleum, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Total E & P Nigeria Limited, Airtel Networks Limited, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company Limited, Nestle Nig. Plc, Dangote Cement, Nigeria Breweries Plc, Total Upstream Nigeria Ltd, Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Ltd, NIG Agip Oil Co. Ltd, British American Tobacco Marketing, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Stanbic IBC Bank Plc and Lafarge Africa Plc.

The FIRS also appreciated the Northern Cables Processing and Manufacturing Limited (NOCACO) and Ikeja Electric Plc for being the most improved in tax filing and VAT compliance respectively.

The revenue authority urged taxpayers to join hands with the FIRS to make taxation the pivot of the nation’s development and economic growth.

Recall that the country’s top-performing taxpayers were scheduled to be unveiled, recognized and awarded by President Muhammadu Buhari at an exclusive dinner during the FIRS 2022 National Tax Week; this was however canceled in honor of the victims of the unfortunate attack on the Kaduna-Abuja railway on the 28th of March, 2022.

Johannes Oluwatobi Wojuola
Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman, FIRS
(Media & Communication)
May 16, 2022

FIRS CHAIRMAN, NAMI ASSURES OF SECURITY OF DMBs IN PROVIDING INFORMATION OF CORPORATE CUSTOMERS

© Imaobong UMOEKAH

Determined accurately and promptlyto providing information of Corporate Customers’ transactions above ₦10 Million and individuals above ₦5 Million, Nigeria Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has developed a portal called Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).

The momentum was awarded the International Standard Organization (ISO) 27001:2013 on the 6th of October 2021.

Speaking concerning the ISO Certification, FIRS Chairman Muhammed Nami, assures that the DMBS is secure, and that the data processes and data it possesses are secure as well as the taxpayer information it holds and receives within Nigeria and across the world.

“Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) is sacrosanct as the conduct of field tax audit and physical reconciliation of tax audit cases posed a serious challenge due to Covid-19.

“There are security challenges experienced in some parts of the country has slowed business activities thereby impacting negatively revenue collection. We also have inadequate data from 3rd parties on non-compliant or unregistered taxpayers, Tax evasion and tax avoidance, among other constraints,” said Nami.

This is an additional achievement of the Nami’s vision of leadership.

BUHARI INAUGURATES NNPC BOARD MEMBERS

The President charged them to focus on profitability and operate at par with its industry peers across the world.


Press Release

President Muhammadu Buhari Friday in Abuja urged the Board of the newly incorporated Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited to ensure strict compliance with Corporate Governance principles that place premium on doing business with the highest ethical standards, integrity, and transparency.

Inaugurating the Board chaired by Senator Margery Chuba Okadigbo, the President charged them to focus on profitability and operate at par with its industry peers across the world.

”I expect the NNPC Limited to be mindful of our commitments to our net carbon zero aspirations and to ensure total alignment with the global energy transition realities,” he said.

The President reminded the Board members that they came on board as a result of the reforms put forward by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, which seeks to reposition the Nigerian petroleum industry to a commercially viable and competitive industry in line with global business dynamics and best practices.

”The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited is mandated to focus on profitability and continuous value creation beyond the simple fulfilment of legal and regulatory requirements.

”NNPC Limited is expected to operate at par with its industry peers across the world, while acting as Enabler Company that will foster the development of other sectors of our Economy.

”The inauguration of this Board is a major step in the ongoing transition to a more viable petroleum industry that will attract investment to support our economic growth and generate employment to millions of our people,” he said.

President Buhari directed that there should be full alignment and synergy between NNPC Limited, the Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Midstream & Downstream Regulatory Authority in compliance with the provisions of the law in all respects to deliver the onerous reforms envisaged for the energy industry.

”NNPC Limited is expected to operate at par with its industry peers elsewhere in the world, while acting as Enabler Company that will foster the development of other sectors of our Economy.”

While thanking the leadership and members of the National Assembly for their seamless support in the journey towards a viable, accountable and transparent energy industry, the President said he would count on the professional insights and ethical conduct of the Board members to ensure the delivery of his administration’s promises to Nigerians.

In his remarks, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said under the present administration a lot has been achieved in the petroleum industry, including the signing of the PIA, the registration of NNPC Limited as a CAMA company and the inauguration of the Board of the NNPC Limited.

”Mr President this is history in the making because this is the first time any President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is inaugurating an independent board of an independent NNPC Limited. This, however, puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of those inaugurated and those of us in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources,” he said.

The following Board members were inaugurated: Senator Okadigbo, Chairman, Mele Kolo Kyari, Chief Executive Officer, Umar I. Ajiya, Chief Financial Officer, Dr Tajudeen Umar (North East), Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North Central), Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North West), Engr. Henry Obih (South East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South South), Chief Pius Akinyelure (South West), Dr Nasir Sani Gwarzo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Aliyu Ahmed, Permanent Secretary, Minister, Finance, Budget and National Planning.

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media & Publicity)

FIRS: REFORMS AND RESULTS: EXPORTING A SUCCESS STORY TO THE COMMONWEALTH

Muhammad Nami, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) boss had been elected the President of the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA).At about 11 am, on Friday, November 12, 2021, there was a buzz among tax aficionados: He is the first Nigerian in the history of CATA to be so elected. 

CATA is an association constituted at the meeting of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers in Barbados in 1977 to promote the improvement of tax administration within the Commonwealth with particular interest in developing countries. In 1978, 26 countries, including Nigeria formed CATA; the membership has grown to 47 today. 

All 47 member countries of the Association unanimously elected Muhammad Nami to lead them. The excitement was palpable. Beyond that, it held an aura that spoke more than the applause that followed Muhammad Nami’s acceptance speech. 

The applause of those excited representatives at the virtual session of the fifteenth General Meeting of CATA was a call to hope, for ideas, and for a leader to take on global taxation problems and fix them. 

Ordinarily, the General Meeting would have been a physical event. Alas, the 2021 General Meeting was a virtual one. No thanks to the ruthless Coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted everything; from lives to jobs, to healthcare, to travel, to family, and for the men and women present at that virtual meeting, government revenue. As such it behoved on them to elect an individual that would break the mould of Covid-19 on government revenues. 

Muhammad Nami knows this. Like every leader in tax administration. His country, Nigeria saw the woes of the pandemic: income for the government dwindled, jobs were lost and the burden to seek revenue introduced a desperate situation — get money wherever it can be found. This responsibility rested on his shoulder. And he has so far delivered. 

In 2020 when the Coronavirus pandemic struck, economies across the world were battered and most countries suffered fiscal shocks. Revenue authorities could not shore up enough funds to meet the needs of government to execute their mandates. Despite the fiscal chaos, the FIRS was able to meet 98% of the national tax target for that year. 

It had collected total tax revenue of over 4.952 trillion Naira, a little short of the target of N5.07 trillion the Federal Government had set for it. This near 100% feat was phenomenal. It was coming in the same year the pandemic had shrunk business activities, lockdowns had frustrated commerce, while tax exemptions had been given to small companies and tax waivers had been granted by the FIRS to cushion the effects of the pandemic.

In the same year, the Service under Nami achieved 109% of its non-oil tax collection target. 

How were all these possible, even in the face of a raging fiscal plunderer? 
Nami came into office with a mindset of reform and result. He drew up a roadmap of the objectives he was seeking for the FIRS: rebuild its institutional framework; collaborate better with stakeholders; make the FIRS a customer-centric institution and make the institution data-centric.

These objectives have underpinned all decisions he has made as Executive Chairman of the FIRS. It is not a surprise that within the second year of his time in office he has deployed the revolutionary TaxPro Max: FIRS’ homegrown digital platform for tax administration which allows taxpayers to register, file returns and pay their taxes easily from any location other than their respective tax offices. 

Then he set up the Tax Incentive Management Department to monitor and take charge of the tax affairs of enterprises enjoying tax exemptions and holidays and ensuring they do not take undue advantage of their status as a cover to earn taxable income and refuse to pay taxes on such income. 

“Data is the new oil” is an aphorism Nami rehashes often. In line with that thought he set up the Intelligence, Strategic Data Mining and Analysis Department of the FIRS— a department to mine data, analyse it and make sense of the transactions happening across the country and the world for tax administration. 

The world is experiencing change and uncommon dynamics with technology at the forefront of the disruption. Nami has consistently advocated for reforms of operations, processes and tax laws, while pursuing the adoption of technology for revenue mobilisation and improved human capital development for tax administrators to be ahead of the curve. 

Nigeria’s annual review of its Finance Act, a ritual that the FIRS boss has been a part of, is a template that fiscal reformers, serious about tackling revenue challenges should adopt. 

It was the Finance Act of 2020 that gave the FIRS the legal backing to deploy technology for tax administration. Without that amendment to the FIRS Establishment Act, the successes recorded by the adoption and deployment of the TaxPro Max would not have witnessed the jubilation it has today. The Act also created more avenues for the tax authority to investigate long-abandoned potential sources of revenue; in the proposed 2021 Finance Bill, the FIRS is to be given greater powers for revenue collection. 

Among others, it proposes a single tax administration authority that would ensure certainty of tax liability and ease of payment of taxes, which means that Nigeria is poised to generate far more revenue than it has done previously.

The Commonwealth nations are looking forward to the leadership of Muhammad Nami to taxi CATA through the turbulence of today’s complexities and provide new thinking, strategic leadership and reform-minded development to the body of tax administrators, as is being witnessed in Nigeria. 

On Friday, November 27, 2021, Muhammad Nami walked into the United Kingdom’s Treasury House for his first face-to-face meeting with members of the CATA Secretariat, as well as representatives of the United Kingdom’s Tax Authority – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Mr Duncan Onduru, the Association’s Executive Director briefed the new President on the governance and structure of the office, as well as the prospects and challenges the Association was facing. 

“We cannot afford to discuss taxation without technology anymore,” Muhammad Nami quipped as he made his remarks to those present at the meeting. True to reality, tax administration must be in tune with modern technological advancements. And in fact, ahead of it. 

For Nami, four items are top on his agenda for the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators: improve the capacity of members to meet up with the dynamics of today especially in technological advancements; promote the Multilateral Commonwealth income Tax Relief for all member countries; promote the Bilateral Avoidance of Double Taxation Treaty among member countries; and forge strategic partnerships with developmental and multilateral institutions, for support in capacity building for CATA members. 

In the next three years, the worth of Muhammad Nami’s over thirty years’ experience as a tax consultant, administrator and reformer would be put to test, again. The Nigerian template, whose results the numbers are already boasting of, is a ready gift to the Commonwealth. Expectations are high, given the uncommon times Nami has met in office. Yet the FIRS boss has shown that he has the right mindset, solid records and capacity to lead CATA. The Commonwealth awaits his reforms and results. 

Johannes Oluwatobi Wojuola is the Special Assistant on Media & Communication to the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Muhammad Nami

ENCOMIUMS TRAIL DEPUTY GOVERNOR AT 80

Dignitaries have continued to shower encomiums on the Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, as he marks his 80th birth anniversary today, Wednesday, 22nd December, 2021.

One of such dignitaries is the Hon. Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong who alongside members of the management team of his Ministry, paid to the official residence of the Deputy Governor at the Government House, Uyo.

While hailing the Deputy Governor for his untiring support for Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration and his Completion Agenda, Comr. Ememobong said, “Your Excellency, we came bearing gifts to celebrate with you today on your birthday. We also want to celebrate your numerous contributions towards the development of Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria in general. As a Ministry, we are also very proud of your legacies as the Poineer Commissioner for Information and your achievements”.

Responding, the visibly elated Ekpo expressed his appreciation to the team for the visit and their kind gestures.

Ekpo said, “Thank you has become a cliché and insufficient to express one’s desire, but I pray that God in His infinite mercy will place men everywhere to celebrate you and your entire families as you celebrate me everyday”.

Highpoint of the visit was the presentation of various souvenirs to the celebrator in commemoration of his 80th birth anniversary.

~ Lawrence Ekong

Assessing Nami’s Two Years At The Helm Of The Federal Inland Revenue Service

By Bernard Okri

In the second week of December 2019, when President Muhammadu Buhari announced the nomination of a certain Muhammad Nami to be the forerunner of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, many were taken by surprise.

Known very well to staff of the FIRS, who he met during his many visits seeking tax clearance and other regulatory documents for his client, Nami was not your populist political appointee at that time. His resume was not partisan. But bold on his resume was the fact that he was a tax man. He had risen at the PKF International to the position of senior consultant in charge of tax management and advisory services, he founded Manam Profesional Services — a chartered tax practitioners and business advisers firm. He had also served as a member of the Presidential Audit Committee on Recoveries, recovering loot from looters across the country. He is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, the Chartered Institute of Forensice and Investigation Professionals in Nigeria, the Institute of Debt Recovery Practitioners of Nigeria and an Associate Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered) and Association of National Accountants of Nigeria.

If we were to judge by Mr. Nami’s experience and qualifications, he fits into the character to lead the FIRS. His credentials speak to a sound administrator and tax man indeed. Two years on, since he officially resumed as the Chairman of the FIRS, there is so much to assess of his leadership. What has he done differently? What reforms has he brought to the tax administration space? What legacies is he certain to leave? What makes Mr. Nami a worthy appointee?

When Mr. Nami resumed at the FIRS he is reported to have called his management team together to inform his vision and objectives for his tenure. He summarised what he wanted to achieve in a four-point agenda: to rebuild the FIRS institutional framework; to improve collaboration with stakeholders; to make the FIRS a Customer-centric institution and to make the FIRS a Data-centric institution.

How has he faired on this? On the institutional framework of the FIRS: before he came on board the FIRS was mostly a notorious institution. It had become the financing house for rave events and parties across the big cities in Nigeria. There was corruption here and there. Staff morale was low; most of their jobs had been handed over to consultants. Several allowances had not been paid, and there was no boost to do the work. One of the first things the new FIRS Chairman did was to end the contracts of over 2,000 tax consultants previously hired and gave the job of tax administration back to the FIRS staff. As it should have been.

Under him, the management approved a new structure for the FIRS. The new organogram was designed to create improved service delivery to taxpayers. It introduced taxpayer segmentation where Large Taxpayers, Media Taxpayers and Small Taxpayers offices were created. The Audit and Investigation Departments were also reviewed for effectiveness. With the new boss on ground, the FIRS Annual Corporate Retreat was reintroduced to provide staff the opportunity to discuss their work, network, review the workings of the Service and improve on their capacity to deliver.

Mr. Nami further established the Tax Incentive Management Department to monitor companies and enterprises that were benefitting from tax holidays and tax exemptions, and ensuring that they were not making taxable profits and refusing to pay taxes on those income.

One major legacy of the Mr. Muhammad Nami led FIRS would be his deployment of technology to transform tax administration. He has been consistent in his commentary on this. Tax administrators would remain in the brick and mortar age if they do not bring their work to be in line with technological advancement. As the world progresses, and advancements in technologies are recorded, for any sector of human life to engage with the dynamics of the world, it must be technologically advanced too.

Mr. Nami takes the credit for courageously deploying technology in the FIRS for tax administration. With the amendment of the FIRS Establishment Act through the Finance Act 2020, where the Service was given the powers to use technology for tax administration, the FIRS deployed its home-made solution called Tax-Pro Max to register tax payers, receive filings from them, and receive payments too.

The TaxPro Max is the first of its kind in Nigeria. Its deployment in June this year was a bold move by the FIRS against many odds. It has cut off suspect middle-men from the tax filing processes and has made tax administration far easier and in line with global standards.

It was thus not surprising to see that the FIRS collected N664 billion Naira in the month of June 2021 alone. This was the single highest amount ever collected in a month by the Service since the covid-19 pandemic started.

In line with building a data-centric institution, Mr. Nami set up the Intelligence, Strategic Data Mining and Analysis Department (ISDMA) to deploy analytical tools to analyse data mined from the revolutionary TaxPro Max to properly asses taxpayers.

The FIRS has also improved its relationship with various stakeholders within the government finance networks as well as the security departments and agencies. This has allowed for the Service to receive more information on taxpayers, easily track tax defaulting and enforce compliance.

The world saw all these and honoured Mr. Nami with the extra job of leading the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA) as the association’s President. On the 12th of November Mr. Nami was elected unanimously as the President of CATA. This election was a testament to the work that he has been doing here in Nigeria. It was a recognition and an affirmation of his success stories, and the call for him to take leadership of global taxation matters.

In December 2020, the FIRS announced that it had collected a total of N4.95 trillion compared to its target of N5.07 trillion. This was an uncommon feat: it happened despite the covid-19 pandemic, and meant the FIRS had met up to 98% of its target. 

Mr. Nami has indeed proved the naysayers wrong, countless times. His records in the last two years are enviable and rich. He has kept to his four-point objective in rebranding and reforming the FIRS to be one of Nigeria’s leading government institutions. He is indeed, as a friend describes him, Nigeria’s Tax Pilot.

Bernard Okri is the President of the Global Economic Policy Initiative (GEPIn)

“Alone you come, alone you will go” – Annie Idibia shares cryptic post

Annie Idibia, a Nollywood actress and 2face’s wife, has been posting cryptic messages on Instagram. On Monday, she said on her Instagram page, “Respect your elders.” Karma is a genuine thing. “Alone you come…alone you shall go” was later added to the post that appeared to have been removed. Related Video

“Alone you come, alone you will go” – Annie Idibia shares cryptic post
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