BusinessDay

Record 2018 tax haul not enough to save Fowler’s job

…as 2023 permutations take centre stage …scanty information on Nami

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday named Muhammad M. Nami as the new chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), replacing Tunde Fowler whose tenure expired on Monday.

Nami’s appointment came barely four months after President Buhari through Abba Kyari, his chief of staff, queried Fowler on a cumulative N3.9 trillion unmet tax revenue target for a four-year period.

Fowler is one of the political loyalists of Bola Tinubu, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The FIRS broke Nigeria’s tax collection history after recouping as much as N5.32 trillion in 2018 but it wasn’t enough to save Fowler’s job.

This is the highest revenue the agency has generated in history and is coming on the heels of turbulent economic times that have crimped company profits and adversely affected the government’s tax take.

“Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is now a victim of political power play other than where professionals should be allowed to showcase their skills for a better Nigeria. As the immediate past chairman, Fowler, was politically favoured in his appointment, the decision that led to not renewing his appointment is also political just as it has happened,” said a tax US-based tax consultant who spoke to BusinessDay.

Nami, the new FIRS boss, is a tax consultant and graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State. Before his appointment, he was the managing consultant of Manam Professional Services (chartered tax practitioners and business advisers) with operations in Kaduna, Abuja and Niger State.

In November 2017, Nami was appointed a member, Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Stolen Assets by President Buhari.

According to Garba Shehu, the president’s spokesperson, Nami is a “renowned” tax consultant, but a quick Google search on the new FIRS chairman brought out scanty results.

The president’s decision is perceived by some tax professionals as a form of political atonement ahead of 2023 interests.

The closest the FIRS has got to the amount collected in 2018 was in 2012 after some N5.07 trillion was reported. Consistent target shortfalls have been the trend since 2015.

Since 2000, data available on the FIRS website show that the President Buhari-led Federal Government has witnessed tax revenue shortfalls since inception in 2015.

In 2015, the agency set N4.5 trillion as target and made about N3.7 trillion and has been experiencing a shortfall of about N2 trillion yearly.

Prior to 2015, the tax agency surpassed its revenue targets except in 2006 where it made a projection of N3.05 trillion and made N1.86 trillion for the year.

The FIRS generated the sum of N4.012 trillion between January and September 2019, according to data provided by the commission. That works to around half of the full-year projection of N8 trillion.

To achieve the target, the FIRS would need to raise N4 trillion in three months, as much as it raised in nine months.

Fowler only recently set a target for the commission last month when he said the plan was to see non-oil revenue contribute 80 percent to total government revenue in three years.

Scanty information on Nami

Muhammad Nami is the man who has just taken the job of Babatunde Fowler as the new head of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the body charged with the responsibility to collect taxes on behalf of the federal government.

Nami’s educational background and work experience litters the internet but there’s one thing there’s hardly sufficient information on and it’s the company where he currently works as management consultant- Manam Professional Services.

There is no website for Manam and the only place where the company shows up in is a business directory called Manpower.ng.

The only information provided on Manam Professional Services on Manpower is that the firm houses Chartered Tax Practitioners and Business Advisers based in Kaduna, Abuja, Niger State.

Here’s what you can easily find on Nami.

He is a tax consultant who renders advisory support services to investors in respect of new business start-ups and management of existing businesses.

His educational background also litters the internet. He attended Bayero University Kano and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology (1991) and a Masters of Business degree (2004) respectively.

He is a fellow of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Institute of Debt Recovery Practitioners of Nigeria and Associate Member of Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered) and Association of National Accountants of Nigeria.

He started his career with PFK in 1993 and rose to the position of a senior Consultant in charge of Tax management and advisory services. Muhammad has served, and is still serving, on many companies’ Board and Statutory Board Audit Committees. He was appointed as a member, Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Stolen Assets in November, 2017 by President Buhari.

 

IHEANYI NWACHUKWU & LOLADE AKINMURELE

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