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”.
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.”
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.
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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.
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.
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;