Connect with us

Opinion

Why Kwibuka matters to Nigerians

Published

on

Why Kwibuka matters to Nigerians

In a few days, Rwanda will mark 30 years since the genocide against the Tutsi. “Kwibuka”, which means to remember, is an annual period of solemn reflection when we come together to honour the victims, unite in our collective grief and renew our commitment to continue to build a better future for Rwandans.

This important act of preserving memory, and ensuring the accurate re-telling of history, matters to Rwandans. The international community played a part in the tragedy while the world watched it unfold. Every nation can benefit from reflecting on the lessons from this preventable genocide borne of division and hatred.

Thirty years ago, in 100 days over one million Tutsi were murdered just because they were Tutsi. Hutus who opposed the genocidal government were also killed. This ‘crime of crimes’ happened in plain sight. The international community was, at best, indifferent to the horrific violence, with some countries being complicit in the killings.

No one came to Rwanda’s aid. The slaughter was only halted when the Rwandan Patriotic Front took Kigali and defeated the genocidaires. The genocide showed what can happen when an ideology built on hatred is allowed to flourish unchecked by those with the power to intervene.

Although foreign governments and international institutions failed Rwanda in our greatest hour of need, there were many brave foreigners on the ground who made heroic contributions: For example, Mbaye Diagne, a Captain in the Senegalese Army who was part of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda. During the Genocide, Capt. Diagne broke UN rules to carry out missions to save those in need, rescuing over 1,000 people before being killed. Rwanda posthumously awarded Capt. Diagne the Umurinzi honour – the Campaign Against Genocide Medal.”

Internationally, New Zealand, Nigeria and the Czech Republic used their positions on the UN Security Council to press for the institution to take action. Permanent Representative Colin Keating (New Zealand) and Chief Delegate Prof. Ibrahim Gambari (Nigeria) put forward separate resolutions calling for greater troop deployment and for the troops to be given a mandate to save civilians. Ambassador Karel Kovanda joined the calls for greater action and was also the first person to use the term genocide within the security council when describing what was happening. These few voices did what they could to raise the alarm with a world that was choosing not to listen.

Beyond remembering the individual stories, this significant commemoration provides an opportunity for the world to reflect on the lessons of the genocide and the battle to preserve the integrity of the historical accounts of it.

There has been a concerted effort to deny the genocide happened in the way we know it did. These genocide deniers use various tactics, ranging from questioning the numbers of victims – despite having no evidence to contradict the verified figures – to blaming the victims for causing the genocide. They even go as far as creating false equivalences by suggesting a double genocide took place.

These tactics are not new. They have been deployed by perpetrators and deniers of other genocides such as the Holocaust. But if we are not careful, this distortion of historical facts – supercharged by social media and AI tools now in the hands of deniers – could be deployed across the world turning true history into contested debate.

Rwanda’s history has shaped Rwandan shared identity – this is why the historical clarity about the genocide against the Tutsi is of national and international importance.

The memorials Rwanda maintains (four of which have been designated UNESCO world heritage sites) are vital to anchoring the truth, and truth is essential to reconciliation and renewal. The artefacts we preserve are our evidence, and the stories we tell are witness testimony.

Our collective memory also provides the world with a warning that the ideology which drove the genocide must not be allowed to flourish and spread ever again. This is unfortunately still happening today in different parts of the world.

How many times must we say ‘Never Again’ before it becomes real? We must learn from past atrocities and apply these lessons to prevent future tragedies.

Rwanda’s transformation, based on unity and reconciliation, offers hope. By investing in infrastructure, education, and women’s empowerment, Rwanda demonstrates the resilience that leads to sustainable development.

On this April 7 and beyond, we ask that Nigeria stand in solidarity with Rwanda. We ask that you do this to honour the memory of all Rwandans who lost their lives, and acknowledge Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and others who did their best to help during Rwanda’s darkest hour. And we ask for your solidarity in preserving the true account of Rwanda’s history so that the world can match the words ‘never again’ with tangible action to prevent history from repeating itself.

 

Source: PUNCH NEWS

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion

SIM boxing, and the unboxing of a crime syndicate

Published

on

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said the suspension of issuance of the three telecoms licences namely: Interconnect

Boxes have a multitude of uses, and the word “box”, lends itself to diverse contexts. For “Ajala Travelers,” the box is a necessity for keeping goods for their endless journeys. In literature, idiomatically, it can be said that “one has been boxed into a corner;” another might say to deal with a conundrum: “think outside the box;” then there is the “Pandora’s box” that no one wants opened.

To “box one’s ear’s” refers to a hit on the head, especially around one’s ears. For those who celebrate Christmas, “Boxing Day,” which is the 26th of December, the second day of Christmastide is not to be joked with: A day to unbox gifts. So much for the box.

Another type of boxes exists in the telecommunications world: The SIM Box. Have you ever received an international call but saw a local phone number ring in? That is SIM Boxing in action. Let me explain.

SIM boxing happens when a person uses a special equipment, what is called a SIM Box containing tens to hundreds of SIM Cards—from 32, to 96, to 512 and more SIMs —to terminate international calls by bringing in the international call into the SIM Box using internet connections and regenerating the calls to the called party from one of the hundred SIMs in the box. This way, the called party will see the local number of the SIM from the SIM Box, and not the original international number calling.

With SIM Boxes, the syndicate charges international call carriers lower rates than what regular Nigerian telecommunications operators would charge, as they do not have to pay the full cost of maintaining and operating a phone network. Basically, they are bypassing the normal route for international phone call termination to terminate international calls cheaply and making windfall profits off it.

Take for instance, a telecommunications operator in Nigeria would ordinarily charge international carriers 10cents per minute for terminating an international call in Nigeria. However, by routing the call through a SIM Boxing syndicate, the international telecommunications carrier only pays a fraction of the charge to the syndicate, say 5cents per minute and does not have to pay the full 10cents per minute charge.

The SIM Boxer will terminate this call to the called subscriber at a rate of, say N15 per minute using one of the SIM cards in their SIM Box. The SIM Boxer thus makes a killing from the differential between the rate charged to the international carrier and the rate paid to telecommunications operators whose SIM they utilise in their SIM Boxes, at the expense of our national security and income of mobile network operators and quality of our service to consumers.

Asides the revenue loss that local mobile network operators suffer courtesy the activities of these syndicates, networks face congestion around areas where the illegal call routings via SIM Boxing occurs. With the huge traffic from the boxes, callers around the area see more dropped calls, poor call quality, and slower data speeds.

The introduction of the linking of National Identity Numbers (NIN) to SIMs is one way the Federal Government has worked to tackle this criminal enterprise. With every SIM in the country being linked to an NIN, an identity is tied to the owner of each line, and regulators now have visibility of ownership. That is not all. There is also the “Max-4 Rule” where a subscriber is not allowed to have more than four lines per network operator linked to his NIN. With this rule in place, coupled with the NIN-SIM Linkage, every telephone subscriber in Nigeria would not just be accurately identifiable but limited to having only four telephone lines per subscriber.

To enforce this rule, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the 29th of March 2024 announced the deadline for Mobile Network Operators to bar all subscribers who had five lines and above, and whose NIN failed the verification test of biometrics matching.

Over the last few weeks, sources within the NCC have confirmed cases where a single NIN was linked to over 100,000 lines. Some NINs had well over 10,000 SIMS linked to them, others over a thousand, others had hundreds. Many have questioned the reports and asked, what would any single reasonable person be doing with these number of lines? Justifiable questions, because no sane person—who is not running a business—should own more than five SIM cards.

Given the ‘Max 4 Rule’ in place and the NIN-SIM Linkage Policy, SIM Boxers have been boxed into a corner. The applications they use require tens to thousands of SIM Cards, and the imperative to stay anonymous. If these policies are well and fully implemented, this is the death knell for SIM Boxing merchants.

But the regulator, NCC needs to be fast and ready for the battle ahead. SIM Boxing is a billion-dollar criminal enterprise. They are not going to go down without a fight. It is like taking a bone being chewed from the mouth of a bulldog.

Already, the battle seems to have kicked off. A lawyer, Barrister Olukoya Ogunbeje has recently taken the Federal Government, NCC and Mobile Network Operators to court, claiming that the barring of SIMs not linked to NINs goes against his fundamental human rights, and has cost him the loss of business opportunities. Anyone who has Nigeria’s interest at heart ordinarily supports this policy. It then does not add up seeing a so-called activist lawyer take up such a matter that is clearly against the public interest—unless this is the Haka cry of SIM Boxers.

A most interesting observation with his case is that it is not even a class action, but individually driven. It begs the question then, who is funding Barr. Olukoya Ogungbeje? What is his interest in fighting this policy that puts paid to the business of a criminal enterprise? Is he funded by interests in the SIM Boxing world? Time would tell. But in the meantime, NCC must go head on without fear or intimation and clean the Augean stable of SIM ownership in Nigeria.

Suleiman Bala Bakori is a researcher, and writes from the FCT.

(First Published on Premium Times)

 

Continue Reading

Opinion

Zacch Adedeji: Lifting Nigeria’s image internationally

Published

on

In today's economic world, effective tax administration is important for stability and growth. This emphasizes the vital role played

By Arabinrin Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello

In today’s economic world, effective tax administration is important for stability and growth. This emphasizes the vital role played by leaders like Zacch Adedeji PhD, Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and President of the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA).

With a proven track record of excellence and expertise in accounting, finance, and revenue administration, Adedeji leads both FIRS and CATA, guiding them towards improved efficiency, transparency, and collaborative efforts in tax governance.

During the recent CATA Management Committee Meeting in London, Adedeji’s speech carried a strong sense of purpose and urgency. His focus on the importance of boosting capacity within tax administrations of CATA member countries highlights a proactive step toward tackling the evolving challenges in the global tax environment.

In an era where technological advancements and regulations are in constant flux, it’s not just beneficial but essential to empower tax personnel with the skills and knowledge they need. Adedeji’s vision goes beyond mere adaptation; it encompasses transformation, ensuring that tax administrations are well-prepared to excel in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.

Adedeji’s advocacy for the adoption of technology to optimize tax processes reflects a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges presented by rapid advancements in tax technology and digitization not only in Nigeria but globally. By leveraging technology, tax administrations can streamline operations, enhance compliance, and mitigate risks associated with tax evasion and fraud.

The Tax Boss’s influence extends globally beyond CATA. His involvement in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) discussions underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in shaping fairer global tax regulations. His diplomatic skills further solidify CATA’s position as a key player in global tax administration.

Zacch A. Adedeji’s leadership at the Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA) exemplifies a commitment to excellence, innovation, and collaboration. Together with President Tinubu’s “Renewed Hope”, they both share a common vision for uplifting Nigerians and shaping the international tax arena. Through Adedeji’s initiatives to enhance capacity building, integrate technological advancements, and promote global cooperation, they are driving positive change and fostering a more efficient, transparent, and inclusive tax environment worldwide.

CATA is made up of 47 member countries, named, Nigeria, Australia, United Kingdom, India, Trinidad & Tobago, Botswana, Brunei, Canada, Cameroon, Cyprus, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, St. Kitt & Nevis, St. Lucia, Samoa, Seychelles, Isle of Man, Eswatini, Fiji Islands, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Uganda, Zambia, Mauritius, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tonga, Tuvalu.

Arabinrin Aderonke ANIPR, is an Award-Winning investigative journalist, 2016 finalist, CNN African Journalist Award. She currently serves as Technical Assistant, Broadcast Media at the Federal Inland Revenue Service

Continue Reading

Opinion

NiMet’s renewed collaboration with agriculture ministry is good for the Nigerian economy

Published

on

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security is a Ministry of the Federal Government of Nigeria that has the mandate to

By Dr. Uche Nworah

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security is a Ministry of the Federal Government of Nigeria that has the mandate to ensure food security in crop, livestock and fisheries.

The ministry is also tasked to stimulate agricultural employment and services, promote the production and supply of raw materials to Agro- allied industries, provide markets for the products of the industrial sector, generate foreign exchange and aid rural socio-economic development throughout Nigeria.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), is a Federal Government of Nigeria agency charged with the responsibility to advise the Federal Government on all aspects of meteorology. NiMet is also tasked to project, prepare and interpret government policy in the field of meteorology; and to issue weather (and climate) forecasts for the safe operations of aircrafts, ocean going vessels and oil rigs.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security have in the past made moves to strengthen their existing relationship towards improving agricultural production and food security in Nigeria. The Ministry and NiMet had signed an MoU on the 3rd of March, 2022, to collaborate in a lot of areas including development of a dash-board for early warning systems, capacity building for staff of the Ministry and other stakeholders on accessing and interpreting information on meteorological parameter changes, and the provision of agro-meteorological advisory services to farmers on specific agricultural commodities. It would seem as if things quietened down after the MoU was signed.

However, at a joint press briefing on NiMet’s 2024 Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP), at the instance of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, on Tuesday, 16th April, 2024, the Honourable Minister and the Director General, Chief Executive Officer of NiMet, and Nigeria’s permanent representative with World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Professor Charles Anosike, resolved to strengthen the relationship and make it stronger. The Honourable Minister said at the press briefing; “Your presence here today, at our headquarters, marks another milestone in the deliberate and desirable collaboration and co-operation between our Ministry and your agency. Over the years, critical sectors of the economy, such as aviation, maritime, and agriculture, have come to rely on the Seasonal Climate Prediction published by NiMeT usually in the first quarter of the year. The reliability of the Seasonal Climate Prediction is indicated by increased recourse to the weather advisories contained therein”.

The Honourable Minister also said that NIMET’s Seasonal Climate Prediction can assist in shaping agriculture in Nigeria with regard to information about the pattern and duration of rainfall across the country’s agronomic zones, when to grow and length of growing season, as well as dry spells that could occasion loss of agricultural investment, where remedial measures are not taken. This in turn helps to boost the adaptive capacity of farmers. Regrettably, there have been farming seasons in Nigeria when farmers did not take advantage of the institutional advice from NIMET, and on their own misread the rainfall pattern, only to face dry spells that invariably ruined their crops and livelihoods.

In his remarks, Professor Anosike thanked the Honourable Minister for his leadership and the kind gesture to strengthen the relationship between NiMet and the ministry. “NiMet wishes to build on the database of farmers that the ministry has. Already NiMet disseminates information about seasonal climate prediction through formal engagements with farmers , and through the media such as the BBC, social media, Radio Nigeria and through national television stations.
However, a lot of gaps still exist within the dissemination space. Our goal is to reach as many Nigerians as possible with timely, accurate and actionable weather and climate information as part of NiMet Early Warning Drive”

Continuing, Professor Anosike said; “Food security requires consistent collaboration with all stakeholders. The SCP as predicted are being manifested but the challenge remains disseminating the contents to over 70 million farmers in Nigeria. Farmers need to be equipped with information and other resources to make climate resilient decisions”.

It is noteworthy and encouraging that weeks after the joint press briefing between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and NiMet, there are evidences of the renewed collaboration. This is positive and will benefit the Nigerian economy. Knowledge is power and if Nigerian farmers have weather and climate information translated in their local languages, they will be able to make climate resilient decisions such as knowing when to plant, what species of plants and seeds to plant and when to harvest to achieve greater yield.

The 2024 Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) released by NiMet provides an outlook of climate variables to help improve decision-making across all sectors of the economy. NiMet’s SCP for 2024 which was originally released in February 2024, forecasts normal on-set of rains over the northern states.Borno, Abia and Akwa Ibom states are predicted to have early on- sets. An early end to the season is predicted for parts of Yobe, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Cross River, Ebonyi, Ogun and Lagos states.

A late secession is predicted over the southern states of Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Ondo, Ekiti and part of Edo, Delta, Ogun, Oyo, Kogi, Kwara, FCT, Niger and Kaduna states.
Day and Night time temperatures for January to May is predicted to be warmer than normal in most parts of the country. Also, most of the North is anticipated to be cooler in March.

The Ministry and NiMet have re-intensified efforts at disseminating NiMet’s seasonal climate prediction (SCP), using FRCN network service, local radio, local and national press, national and local television. They are also using social media platforms. Applying the multi-step information flow model will require social media savvy stakeholders picking up the information online and sharing same to the farmers in their various communities.

A critical aspect of the dissemination is the physical downscaling of the SCP information to farmers in the various communities. This will require the support of the various states ministries of agriculture and NGOs operating in the agricultural space. They should support current downscaling efforts by the ministry and NiMet. From the schedule released by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, and NiMet, downscaling of SCP information to farmers in the six geopolitical zones have been scheduled as follows; Ondo (13th May), Imo (15th May), Delta (17th May), Niger (22nd May), Sokoto (4th June) and Borno (6th June). Farmers, civil society organizations, states ministries of agriculture, the media and other stakeholders can help in sensitizing the farmers to attend on the dates stated for their zones.

This initiative by the two MDAs is viewed as a positive step towards enhancing food security in Nigeria. It will empower our farmers, and has the capacity to mitigate the perennial challenges of climate variability. It will at the same time contribute towards sustainable resilience in the agricultural value chain.

The full SCP report can be downloaded from www.nimet.gov.ng. The report is also available from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture And Food Security Abuja, and State Ministries of Agriculture.

Dr. Nworah, a public affairs commentator wrote from Lagos.

Continue Reading

Opinion

May Day reflections, speech by Opunimi Akinkugbe

Published

on

Nimi Akinkugbe is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bestman Games Ltd. In December 2012 her company launched the City of

Nimi Akinkugbe is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bestman Games Ltd. In December 2012 her company launched the City of Lagos Edition of Monopoly, the first African city edition of Hasbro’s world famous board game. Prior to this, she enjoyed a successful banking career spanning 23 years during which she served as General Manager and Head, Private Banking at Stanbic IBTC Plc and subsequently as Regional Director (West Africa) for the Wealth & Investment Management Division of Barclays Bank. Nigerian Ambassador to Greece (2021-2023).

In today’s society, the allure of entrepreneurship often overshadows the traditional office job, whether in person, or virtual, but the security and stability of monthly income shouldn’t be underestimated.

While entrepreneurship offers avenues for financial independence, not everyone is cut out for it. Many find fulfillment, growth, and impact in full-time jobs, aligning with their career goals.

Choosing between entrepreneurship and a steady job should be based on individual circumstances. Success in entrepreneurship requires courage, resilience, patience, and meticulous planning.

Leaving a secure job should be thought through carefully, considering financial and other responsibilities. Career success can be achieved through various paths, whether climbing the corporate ladder or exploring different opportunities. Assess your readiness, skills, and resources before embarking on such a significant transition.

Reflecting on my 23-year banking career, the stability and growth it provided were invaluable. The skills and knowledge acquired during that phase have been pivotal in shaping my journey as both an entrepreneur and more recently as a public servant, highlighting the enduring impact of my foundational experiences in the banking sector.

Comparing oneself to entrepreneurial colleagues shouldn’t deter your personal goals. Stay focused on your unique path and don’t feel pressured to leave a job if it brings fulfillment, growth, or provides necessary financial stability at this time.

As we celebrate Workers Day, remember that each path, whether traditional employment or entrepreneurship, holds value and significance.

Embrace your journey, stay true to your goals, and find fulfillment in the path that aligns with your own aspirations.

Happy Workers Day!

Credit: Linkedlin

Continue Reading

Opinion

In Ayedatiwa, Ondo finds proverbial “Omoboriowo”

Published

on

In a letter of commendation sent to me in 1996 for returning an overpayment of Five Hundred Thousand Naira( N500,000.00) to the First Bank,

By Gboyega Amoboye

In a letter of commendation sent to me in 1996 for returning an overpayment of Five Hundred Thousand Naira( N500,000.00) to the First Bank, Abuja Main in the course of my duty at NOA, Governor Olusegun Agagu said: “Your commendable act of honesty has once again brought to the for, the age- long quality for which a typical Ondo State indegene is noted for. You have not only written your name in gold as an honest Journalist, you have done our Sunshine State proud through your singular act”.

It is on the basis of this universally acknowledged integrity the Sunshine State is noted for that I predicted that Governor Ayedatiwa would win the contest on the basis of integrity. I described him and his Deputy, Chief Olayide Adelami as men of impeccable character. In allusion to the the great Dr. Namdi Azikiwe during his face off with the then Administrator of the East Central State shortly after the Civil war, Dr. Upabi Asika, “I remember the inscription, ‘Toju Iwa re’ on the body of a Mammy Wagon plying Owo to Ibadan”. Iwa ( manner) is the essence of “Omoluabi”. The Yoruba places a high premium on character.

Even in the Bible, Character is the essence of salvation. In Revelation 22:11-12, the Lord said ‘he that is unjust, let him be unjust still and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I come quickly,and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
The Lord visited Ondo State last weekend and gave to every aspirant accordingly. It was easy for me to predict Ayedatiwa’s success after reading and hearing what people were saying about him.

As I had analysed, to reconcile his group and that of the late Governor Akeredolu, he picked his running mate, Chief Olayide Adelami a personification of integrity, from Owo, Ondo North. By this noble act, Ayedatiwa has already secured the confidence of the people of Ondo North in addition to his own Ondo South which is expected to be a walk over.

The news about him from Ondo Central is that of commendation for ensuring continuity of Akeredolu’s suffering projects. He was said to have promptly mobilised contractors back to sites while unpaid salaries for months were cleared. He embarked on peace mission to communities to restore hope and confidence in the people. Magnanimously, he reappointed some Commissioners who had served under Akeredolu apparently as an olive branch and demonstration of continuity.

By these, he had secured some points ahead of virgin competitors aspiring to take over from a tested and trusted incumbent. Above all, there is a law of natural justice. Ayedatiwa has just started the first year to conclude the second term of his predecessor. True democracy should have dictated that Ayedatiwa should be given the right of first refusal.

But the APC leadership understands that politicians are incurable optimists and therefore were aloud to hear directly from voters that “there is no vacancy” as I had predicted.
W

hen some jittery aspirants were sponsoring malicious propaganda to discredit the electoral process, I said the essence of a direct election is to ensure fairness and justice to all aspirants. It is unfortunate that some aspirants who scored zero all round the 18 local governments organized a protest for the cancellation of the results as if they could win even if the election were repeated 100 times.

If the APC leadership has allowed for a free and fair election, it is because they are working towards the 2027 Presidential election for whatever might happen now would determine how far the Presidential candidate would go in 2027 in the state.

If the APC is ready to repeat its victory in the November Governorship election, the leadership knows that reconciliation would be easier when all optimists, curable and incurable were allowed to slug it out , though some had contested simply to attract political appointments.

With the Primary now over, all aspirants are advised to in the language of Prof. Humphrey Nwosu Chairman of Babangida’s regime National Electoral Commission, “bring the ball back to the center” and work together as a team to win the Governorship election in November so as to deliver the state to the President in 2027. As for Ayedatiwa, it is God’s speed.

*Amoboye is a journalist popularly called, “Governor”

 

Continue Reading

Opinion

FIRS’s New technological drive for tax collection, leakage block

Published

on

An efficient tax drive system inarguably, would always serve as the most run-of-the-mill and important government intervention to redistribute income among the population of any society such as Nigeria, with over 200 million people.

Aside from oil, which remains the major revenue source for Nigeria, tax revenue continues to impact the nation’s economy, building government’s fiscal capacity at both national and the sub-national levels to provide the public goods and services that citizens need for growth.

Despite being a veritable alternative system for raising government revenue for development purposes however, not many people are disposed to willful payment of taxes due to a lack of public confidence, official corruption, embezzlement, infrastructure deficit, high levels of evasion, and rising public debt among other issues. Several citizens are still oblivious to the fact that taxation is the key contribution they make towards national development. According to the chairman of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation And Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Mohammed Shehu, less than 40 million Nigerians are presently captured in the tax net and paying taxes.

Like in many African countries therefore, available reports indicate that Nigeria has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at approximately 10.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), well below the African average.

President Bola Tinubu appears to be worried about this trend. His decision in July 2023, to set up a presidential committee on fiscal policy and tax reform, is indicative of the government’s readiness to enhance revenue collection efficiency, ensure transparent reporting, and promote the effective utilization of tax and other revenues to boost citizens’ tax morale, foster a healthy tax culture, and drive voluntary compliance.

The current executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Dr. ZacchAdedeji who served on this presidential committee, then, as a Special Adviser on Revenue to the President, believes strongly that the administration of President Tinubu is on a mission to reform Nigeria’s tax system and tackle some of the challenges hampering tax collection in the country.

These challenges include multiple taxes and revenue collection agencies, a high prevalence of tax evasion, a complex tax system, and poor accountability in the use of tax revenue. There is the aspect of revenue leakages. Obviously, lack of data in the oil sector for instance has made it difficult in the past to determine the exact number of vessels of crude that is brought into the country and the amount of tax that should be adequately paid.

“Our aim is to transform the tax system to support sustainable development and achieve a minimum of 18% tax-to-GDP ratio within the next three years without stifling investment or economic growth,” Adedeji told reporters at the presidential villa in July, 2023.

The choice of Dr. Adedeji, a consummate tax expert, by President Tinubu to pilot the affairs of the nation’s top revenue agency, may be one of putting a round peg in a round hole. While serving as Presidential aide, Adedeji undoubtedly also played critical roles in the formulation of the economic direction of the new administration.

One of the earliest promises of the FIRS chairman, was therefore, to build a tax administration that enjoys the trust and confidence of all stakeholders. Along this line, the FIRS boss acknowledges that having a data-driven system that makes revenue targets predictable is a precondition for the realization of the fiscal projections of the government for economic development.

This is imperative for the revenue agency, if it must achieve the mandate of collecting a record N19 trillion in the 2024 fiscal year as set by President Tinubu and legislated for in the budget.

To achieve this huge task, the FIRS boss in February this year, during a management strategic retreat in Abuja, declared that working with his team, the agency would be embarking on a structural transformation, to make the country’s tax collection system more tax-payer-centric, seamless, and to encourage voluntary tax payment by both members of the public, as well as, corporate organizations.

A systematic implementation of this reform, would obviously place the agency in a vantage position to raise the unprecedented N19 trillion revenue target, within 12 calendar months.

“The cornerstone of this paradigm shift is the establishment of a customer-centric organizational structure designed to streamline processes and enhance efficiency in our tax operations. We are not merely adapting to change; we are leading it. The forthcoming structure, set to kick off from February 2024, embodies our dedication to modernize and digitize the tax administration landscape in Nigeria.

“In our pursuit for a more efficient and contemporary tax administration methodology, we are embracing an integrated tax approach, leveraging technology at every step. This approach positions FIRS at the forefront of innovation, ensuring that we meet the evolving needs of our taxpayers in a rapidly changing world,” Adedeji told his staff members at the retreat.

The FIRS chief executive is also worried that aside the agency’s innovative strategies including the deployment of technology, the challenge of multiple collection of taxes by several government agencies stares in the face. A well-structured fiscal policy is really essential to provide many of the necessary infrastructure such as healthcare, education, and social services for the country.

While appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Adedeji explained that the present structure where the collection of tax revenue is done by over 60 government agencies is a major cause of leakage in funds.

Although, the Federal Government is considering a legislation to ensure that every Nigerian gets the one single identification number (NIN), the harmonization of revenue channels using technology to view all government revenue-collecting agencies in real-time, is seen as a welcome development that could enhance increased revenue collection.

These are the words of the FIRS executive chairman in this regard, “the law is very clear as to how to collect revenue. In Section 162 of the Nigerian Constitution, it is clearly stated that there shall be an account called the Federation Account and all government revenue must be put into that account.

“When we talk about harmonization, we are just saying integration of all collecting agencies, that on one platform, we can know what is happening in NIMASA, NPA, NCC, Customs, Federal Inland Revenue (Service)…We will make use of technology to know everything going on in real-time.”

It is heartwarming getting to see the FIRS go the way of technology. Technology deployment as promised by the executive chairman can effectively assist the revenue agency to ramp up tax collection.

Indeed, technology can play a significant role in improving tax collection processes and increasing revenue in several ways. One of which is digitalization of tax administration. Transitioning from paper-based to digital systems can streamline tax collection processes, making them more efficient and less prone to errors. Online platforms can be developed for taxpayers to file their returns, make payments, and access relevant tax information easily.

Another is data analytics: Advanced data analytics tools can help identify patterns, trends, and potential tax evasion cases by analyzing vast amounts of data. This enables tax authorities to target their efforts more effectively, resulting in increased revenue collection.

Automation is another: Automating certain tasks, such as data entry and document processing, can significantly reduce the workload of tax officials, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks that require human expertise. Automation can also help minimize errors and improve overall efficiency.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): AI and ML technologies can be employed to analyze and interpret tax-related data, predict potential tax evasion cases, and even suggest audit strategies. These technologies can also be used to develop chatbots and virtual assistants that provide instant support to taxpayers, making the process more user-friendly.

Integration with other systems: Seamless integration with other government databases and systems can help in verifying taxpayer information, detecting discrepancies, and preventing fraudulent activities. This can result in better compliance and improved tax collection.

Digital payment options: Offering digital payment options can encourage taxpayers to make timely tax payments, leading to increased revenue collection. This can be facilitated by integrating tax systems with online banking, mobile wallets, and other digital payment platforms.

E-invoicing and real-time reporting: Implementing electronic invoicing systems and real-time reporting mechanisms can help tax authorities monitor transactions more closely, reducing the likelihood of tax evasion and improving compliance.

If these technological solutions are utilized by the FIRS, they could help modernize its systems and create a more efficient, transparent, and taxpayer-friendly environment, ultimately leading to increased tax revenue and better fiscal management.

What is most exciting is that the FIRS under Adedeji has since realised the enormous benefits and the efficacy of effective deployment of technology to drive taxation. Nigerians therefore, do expert impressive outcomes in revenue collection especially giving the huge target for the 2024 fiscal year, as many await to monitor events in the nation’s tax industry.

Continue Reading

Top Stories