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Exclusive: How Babatunde Fowler Is “Destroying The FIRS”

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Williams Babatunde Fowler

Information reaching Nairametrics about activities at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), suggests that the new chairman of the Federal tax agency Babatunde Fowler may be causing more harm than good since he assumed office last year.

Interviews with a number of FIRS insiders and top officials indicate that Fowler is “way out of his league and alienating the professional internal staff at the FIRS”.

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Some accusations leveled against Fowler are that the chairman has hired mostly incompetent consultants from outside the agency to do the work of FIRS staff. This is not uncommon as it was a similar model used by prior FIRS Chairmen, only that most of the consultants are said to have little or no tax experience.

In a page right out of Lagos (where Fowler was former head of the state tax agency), insiders tell Nairametrics that the consultants go about bullying companies adopting a similar tactics used by the Lagos State Inland Revenue.

“Morale has really gone down among staff,” one insider told Nairametrics. “Most of these outsiders hired have been placed above career FIRS staff.”

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Nairametrics gathered that most of the consultants hired have been leapfrogged over internal professional staff and placed at senior positions as Directors which is naturally breeding discontent.

Furthermore, Nairametrics has learnt that no overheads have been released from January till date to FIRS 12 zonal offices across the country, leading to a shortage of basic work material like paper or diesel to run generators.

They also complain that collections at the agency has been going down since Fowler took over. Nairametrics could not independently verify this claim as the FIRS did not publish data on tax revenue for the first quarter of 2016.

However, FAAC allocations distributed to the three tiers of Government were N387 billion in December 2015, N370 billion in January 2016, N345 billion in February 2016, and N299.7 billion in March (the lowest in 6 years).

This all begs the question on how the Federal Government intends to finance its increasingly looking unrealistic N6 trillion budget.

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The FIRS chairman Babatunde Fowler is thought to have been nominated by APC chieftain Bola Tinubu to try and recreate the Lagos miracle at the center.

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However, going by complains from disgruntled staff, it seems the employees of the agency may not totally be on board with him making it increasingly unlikely that he will replicate the “Lagos Miracle”.

Nigerian tax revenue has grown exponentially since the advent of democracy rising from about N455 billion in 200o and hitting a peak of about N5 trillion in 2012. However, tax revenues have dipped to N4.8 trillion and N4.7 trillion in 2013 and 2014 respectively. It went further south in 2015 when it hit a 5 year low of N3.7 trillion.

Mr Fowler had at several fora promised a tax revenue of N5 trillion for 2016 which appears to now be in jeopardy assuming any of the claims mentioned to Nairametrics are true.

Note: Other online media platforms have carried stories from the perspective of Fowler suggesting that this matter is not just one sided. To get a balanced view, it will be better you also read them. See below;

Fowler And The Hawks In FIRS

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Firs contract refund mafia battle Fowler

 

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Abimbola

    May 9, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Change is difficult to implement especially when you need to align Corrupt civil servant to work with you on a common goal. No more chop chop money..
    Ugo, I am disappointed that you will base an article on complete hear-say and from disgruntle staff that are always there to resist change. Or is this a sponsor post you fail to put the correct disclaimer?

    • Nairametrics

      May 9, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Abimbola,

      Every disgruntled staff needs to be heard even if you not agree with their position. Our job is to report from either side provided they are willing to let our readers hear from them. It’s really up to you to discern and make sense of the whole drama

  2. Josiah Ilori

    May 9, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    IT IS NATURAL TO HAVE COMPLAINT FROM DISGRUNTLED STAFF SUCH AS THE FIR STAFF. I AM NOT SAYING THAT THEIR COMPLAINT SHOULD NOT BE INVESTIGATED, BUT A CLOSER LOOK OF A NEW CHANGE IN A CORRUPT SOCIETY SUCH AS NIGERIA SHOULD BE PROPERLY ANALYSED AND INVESTIGATED MY ASSUMPTION IS THAT THE NEW MANAGEMENT IS OUT TO FLUSH OUT LOOP HOLES THAT BREED CORRUPTION!

    • Nairametrics

      May 9, 2016 at 9:42 pm

      Let’s hope everything happening is for the good of the country

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Business News

Job listings spike up by 183% in April –Jobberman

Jobberman released figures showing a 183% increase in job listings on its platform in April 2020, thanks to its #UnityInAdversity campaign.

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Job listings spike up by 183% in April – Jobberman

Notable job placement website, Jobberman, has released figures showing that there was a 183% increase in job listings on its platform in the month of April 2020.

This increase, according to Jobberman, is a result of the #UnityInAdversity campaign which allowed companies to post job listings and access Jobberman’s database of over 2.2 million professionals across Nigeria for free, rather than paying the usual fees. This was the company’s way of showing support to businesses and individuals, amid the economic challenges which resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to the release from Jobberman, this campaign came at a cost to the company since it was trading off its revenue by offering for free, the same services which formed its major source of income.

“At the beginning of March, Jobberman Nigeria saw a 70 percent decrease in job listings due to the reduced economic activity caused by the enforced lockdown and many companies shutting down recruitment budgets to cut costs. Jobseeker sign-ups also decreased by 17 percent. Jobberman took the bold step to put employers’ and job seekers’ needs first” the statement read.

(READ MORE: Merger, Tax incentive boosts BUA Cement FY 2019 result)

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The campaign, which is billed to run till June 30, has paid off greatly as data for April’s job listings alone was more than that of the entire Q1 2020 period. See a breakdown of the job listings below:

  • Almost a fifth of the positions (18.79%) were listed in the tech sector
  • Banking, finance, and insurance accounted for 9.27%
  • Education and training had 6.78 percent
  • IT & Software positions accounted for 11.69%
  • Sales had 13.32%.

Note that with the increase in job listings, job seeker sign-ups also increased by 39% in April alone.

Job listings spike up by 183% in April – Jobberman

Speaking about the campaign, the CEO of Jobberman Nigeria, Hilda Kragha said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has made the process of connecting talent to opportunities more complicated and we are fully aware of the strain businesses and individuals in Nigeria are facing. We plan to be here for the next 10 years so making this small sacrifice to help our users navigate these difficult times is something that we think is definitely worth doing”.

Kragha also noted that the campaign has encouraged healthy competition as candidates strive to show themselves qualified for the position.

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“We have found that soft skills such as emotional intelligence, business etiquette, time management, which are often overlooked and underestimated in Nigeria, can make a big difference. We know the power of soft skills and we are committed to empowering individuals with the training and soft skills they need to succeed in the workplace” she explained further.

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(READ MORE: Partnerships Beyond The Partners… Another Lesson From Interswitch)

Sequel to this, the company also launched a free soft skills training programme to help job seekers (between age 18 and 30 years) acquire the needed soft skills and better their chances of gaining employment.

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Economy & Politics

Gold prices rise, as President Trump decides on China today

Gold prices jumped on Friday as China and America’s drift deepened over further moves by China to impose security laws on Hong Kong

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Gold, Gold prices tick up as President Trump decides on China today

Gold prices jumped on Friday as China and America’s drift deepened over further moves by China to impose security laws on Hong Kong, lifting the allure of safe havens amid market uncertainties.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser cautioned the Chinese lately that Hong Kong, which has enjoyed special privileges, may now be treated like China when it comes to financial matters and trade.

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Trump, who had earlier vowed a tough action on China, will hold a news conference today to announce what measures his administration will take.

Spot gold gained about 0.1% at $1,719.63 per ounce, and U.S. gold futures rose 0.4% to $1,734.60.

The friendship between the Americans and Chinese had weakened, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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President Trump and President Jinping of China have accused each other as a result of issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

(READ MORE:  Gold records 3-week high, as investors rush to safe haven)

Why do Investors buy Gold? Global Investors most often buy the safe-haven asset in times of uncertainty and use it to hedge against cash (inflationary macros).

Oil prices, Gold prices tick up as President Trump decides on China today

“The possible U.S. response could range from a tearing up of the Phase 1 trade deal and fresh tariffs on China, to milder travel or financial sanctions on Chinese officials,” said Shane Oliver, chief economist at Australian wealth manager AMP to Reuters News.

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“It is seen as a major threat to the rally we’ve had and the recovery,” “If it’s at the relatively mild end, then I don’t think it would derail the recovery bull market, but if it’s at the more extreme end with tariffs and harsh treatment of Hong Kong, then I think it gets more problematic,” Oliver added.

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Business News

AfDB board denies asking Adesina to step down, as Obasanjo says the bank risks being hijacked

“The Bureau of the board of governors informs the public that it has not taken any decision. Everyone must allow the Bureau to do its work and allow due process to reign.”

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AfDB partners DFID to unveil $80m infrastructure financing for Africa, ADB launches $3 billion “Fight COVID-19” Social Bond, US calls for an independent probe of AfDB president, Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB board denies asking Adesina to step down as Obasanjo says the bank risks being hijacked

The Bureau of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has denied media reports making the rounds that AfDB’s president, Akinwumi Adesina, has been asked to step down pending the completion of the probe and determination of allegations against him.

The bank’s top governing board members said that they have not asked Adesina to step down from his position as president, even as the board continues to review the fallout of complaints by some whistleblower. The statement from the Chairman of the bank’s board of governors, Niale Kaba, said:

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“The Bureau of the board of governors informs the public that it has not taken any decision. Everyone must allow the Bureau to do its work and allow due process to reign. All governors will be carried along in resolving the issue.’’

READ ALSO: IMF advises banks to suspend dividend payment

Kaba also stressed that there was no governance crisis at AfDB as was being speculated in certain quarters. He confirmed that the Bureau of the Board of Governors of AfDB met on Tuesday, May 26, after the request by the U.S Secretary calling for an independent probe. The essence of the meeting was to take a closer look at the allegations by the whistleblowers against Akinwumi Adesina, said allegations which had already been investigated by the ethics committee of the bank.

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Kaba further disclosed that even though no decision has been taken yet, the bureau assures that it is treating the case with the utmost seriousness that it deserves.

(READ MORE:  AfDB bows to pressure from U.S, orders an independent probe of Akinwumi Adesina)

Adesina, who maintains his innocence of those allegations, had stated that a fair, transparent, and just process will vindicate him.

In a related development, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had thrown his weight behind Adesina and kicked against the demand by the United States of America for a fresh, independent probe of the AfDB President who had earlier been cleared by the ethics committee of the bank.

In his letter to 12 former African Presidents, Obasanjo said that Africa must stand up and not allow its institutions to be unduly controlled by non-African countries.

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Obasanjo said that the bank has witnessed tremendous growth under Adesina’s leadership and has doubled its capital base since he took over.

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