Good taxpayers who are doing their duties conscientiously, by paying taxes as and when due, will make Nigeria great again, Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler said at the weekend.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, on the other hand said that the Merit Awards — in the members category to her by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN)-, is a rare endorsement of some of the Change initiatives under President Mohammadu Buhari.
She stated too that the awards coming from an association known for its integrity and its professionalism to a tax collector is rare and an endorsement of the work of tax collectors in the country.
Both spoke at Eko Hotels in Lagos at the weekend, at the 2018 ICAN Annual Dinner and Awards. At the same event, Fowler said FIRS collected the sum of N1.171 trillion between January and March 2018—N393 billion more than it collected during the same period in 2017, when the agency collected N778.1 billion in the first quarter. The N1.171 trillion collection in the first quarter of 2018 represented 51 per cent increase in collection compared to 2017.
The Finance Minister had kind words for the FIRS Chairman, ICAN and stakeholders in the Federal system: “The President of ICAN, Alhaji Ismaila Mohammed, Zakari The Vice President, The First and 2nd Vice Presidents, past Presidents. Let me also recognise my professional mother and the first female Chartered Accountant in Africa, Mrs Toyin Olakunrin. Thank you, Ma. I am here today because you were here and because of the work that you did. If you didn’t do what you needed to do, I won’t be here today. On behalf of all female Chartered Accountant, we say thank you. We are here to make you proud.
“On behalf of my colleagues, all the awardees, me members of ICAN my humble self. The GED of NNPC, (Alh Isiaka AbdulRasak} my Kabiyesi the Akarigbo of Remoland and Mrs Magaret Unubu, I like to say thank you to the Institute for deeming us worthy of these awards.
“In Nigeria, we like awards..all kinds of awards. But when you get an award from ICAN, it’s actually a very very valuable award. It’s a very valuable and well-respected honour. So, I like to thank you for deeming us worthy of these awards. I think it’s important and symbolic today that we are recognising members of the profession and non-members from a wide range of public service, private practice.
“I think it is significant that a taxman is being honoured. And when the taxman’s name is mentioned, people clap. That is a sea change in Nigeria that I think it’s here to stay. When the people collecting taxes are popular, the country wants to move forward. I thank you all on behalf of all the recipients.
“Let me thank so many heads of Government agencies under the ministries of finance, NNPC, FIRS…that are really pulling together to take this country forward When I am being honoured. They are also being honoured too. We promise you that we will continue to do our best to make you proud.
“The Honourable Minister of Finance, our Royal father and the ICAN Chairman, members of the Press. I am delighted to be called upon to speak on behalf of the \corporate society. For us to receive an award from a group such as ICAN is extremely honourable.
“Lawyers to pride themselves as learned professionals. But accountants play am important role in a country like ours.
“The corporate world plays an important role too. One of the recipients of the awards today, my good friend the owner promoter of Dangote Group is one of the compliant groups in Nigeria, supporting this economy, the hospitals and other corporate organisations, that are serving this organisation, we thank you.
“Let’s continue to pay our taxes. If we do, we will make Nigeria great again.
On Saturday, Fowler was honoured with a Merit Award of the Non-Members Category by ICAN. The FIRS Chairman received the Merit Award last year in the Corporate Member Category on behalf of the FIRS.
According to the ICAN President, Ismail M Zakari, Fowler was singled out for the Merit Award for the innovative ways he has deployed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to revolutionise tax administration processes in Nigeria.
Zakari said some of these initiatives include “online filing of returns (e-filing, VAT-collect system, e-Stamp Duty (online stamping of documents and stamp duty payment), e-Tax Receipt (instant issuance of receipts for taxes paid), e-Tax Clearance) and more.
Fowler was also praised for his dogged determination in the tax drive to provide the Buhari administration with the much-needed revenue to fulfil the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun was also honoured with a Merit Award at the event. The ICAN President, Ismaila Zakari, said Kemi Adeosun was honoured for her exemplary and distinctive contributions to the growth of the Nigerian economy and here sterling leadership qualities.
“This honour is in recognition of your outstanding contributions to the ideals of our Institute which include: Accountability, Integrity, Honesty, Exemplary Leadership and Nation Building.”
Zakari added further: “Particularly for your selfless service as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and for your roles in strengthening the Nigerian economy and entrenching accountability through the introduction of 22 Points Fiscal Reform Action Plan and the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme,”
Adeosun received further commended for spearheading numerous reforms of the Federal Government had been undertaken such as the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) which has been extended to June 30 by the Federal Government, Implementation of Treasury Single Account, implementation of Whistle-blower Policy, establishment of an Efficiency Unit, establishment of Development Bank of Nigeria, launch of Asset Tracking and Management Project, and introduction Fiscal Sustainability Plans for States, among others.