By Samuel Ogundipe
A PREMIUM TIMES review of the tax papers submitted by ministers during nomination process in 2015 shows how some of them complied with income tax regulations; while others either did not present evidence of compliance or paid whatever they felt was convenient.
To be considered for government contracts and appointments into government positions, beneficiaries are usually expected to present evidence of tax payments for the preceding three years.
Ministerial nominees are usually expected to fulfill that requirement as proof that they are responsible citizens worthy of being trusted with government positions.
It was to fulfill that requirement that the ministerial nominees submitted evidence of their tax payments for three years. Mr. Shittu submitted receipt.
Of the 20 ministerial nominees who fully declared what they earned in a three-year period preceding 2015, only 18 had full declaration for both earnings and total taxes paid.
The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, submitted the most ludicrous evidence of tax payment. To proof his tax compliance status, Mr. Shittu submitted a receipt issued to him by the Oyo State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development for a N5000 payment for ‘miscellaneous services’.
A copy of the #5,000 tax declaration Mr Shittu submitted to the Senate for clearance in 2015
The Attorney-General Abubakar Malami declared N2,187,159 as his earnings from 2011-13, paying only N140,000 in the same period.
The tax clearance certificate Mr Malami presented in October 2015 expired since December 31, 2014. He was a senior Nigerian lawyer practicing in Kano prior to his appointment as minister.
All the 19 who presented three years clearance, including Mr Malami, earned a combined sum of N792,526,462.43, of which they paid N114,972,997.88, representing 14.5 percent.
The Nigerian income ranges from seven percent for the first N300,000 in earnings per year to 24 percent for those who earned N3.2 million and above in a year.
Ibe Kachikwu [Photo Credit: THISDAYLIVE]
Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum appeared to have paid the highest amount based on documents reviewed by PREMIUM TIMES, remitting a total N52,877,303.47 in taxes between 2012 and 2014. He was a senior executive at Mobil Nigeria at the time, earning N198,882,134.92 in those three years.
Okechukwu Enelamah, the minister of industry, trade and investment, was a prominent player in the financial services sector until he joined public office in 2015. He declared a three-year income of N51,618,570.91, and paid N7,959,210.89 in income taxes on it.
Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah
From 2012-14, Zainab Ahmed, the minister of finance, earned N81,233,799.75 as the executive secretary of NEITI, paying N7,797,593.31 under the pay-as-you-earn scheme of the Nigerian government. Several others who transited directly from public offices to the federal cabinet also presented evidence of tax compliance under the PAYE scheme.
A copy of Babatunde Fashola’s tax declaration
But ministers like Tunde Fashola and Rotimi Amaechi, who were former governors in Lagos and Rivers, respectively, did not attach their three-year tax clearance to the Senate during nomination process. Mr Fashola presented a letter from the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) which attested to his full compliance.
Folarin Ogunsanwo, the revenue office’s chairman, affirmed the minister of power, works and housing paid his taxes under PAYE. He did not say in the October 9, 2015 letter how much the former governor declared for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Amina Mohammed, who has since resigned from the cabinet for a top job at the United Nations, did not present evidence of tax compliance. She worked at the United Nations prior to her nomination in 2015.
L-R: Min of Communications, Adebayo Shittu; Min of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali; Min of Education, Adamu Adamu; Min of State Education, Prof Anthony Onwuka; Min of State Environment, Ibrahim Jibrin; outgoing Min.of Environment Mrs Amina Mohammed; FCT Minister Mohammed Bello; Min of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; and Min of Foreign Affairs Godfrey Onyeama during the Valedictory session at the Council Chamber, State House, Abuja, 22nd Feb 2017. Photo by: Novo Isioro
Geoffrey Onyeama, the foreign affairs minister, declared 177,354,551 in earnings between 2012 and 2014, but only clarified a N50,000 payment as part of his taxes. Mr Onyeama, who was an executive at the UN’s World Intellectual Properties Organisation (WIPO), indicated he had declared his taxes under the PAYE scheme, but did not specify amounts paid in each of those years.
Heineken Lokpobiri, the minister of state for agriculture, presented a three-year tax clearance, but it was too fuzzy to read. He was a serving senator until his appointment as minister, and declared his earnings under PAYE.
Mansur Dan-Ali, the minister of defence, retired from the Nigerian Army as a brigadier-general in 2013. He did not attach evidence of tax payment.
PREMIUM TIMES was unable to ascertain whether four ministers presented their tax clearance to the Senate before their confirmation in 2015. They are Audu Ogbeh, minister of agriculture; Mustapha Baba Shehuri, minister of state for power, works and housing; Adamu Adamu, the minister of education; and Ibrahim Jibril, the minister of environment.
Messrs Ogbeh, Baba Shehuri, Jibril and Adamu did not return PREMIUM TIMES’ requests to clarify their income tax certificates.
Evidence of three-year tax payments by Buhari’s ministers
S/NNAMEYearSalary (Naira – N)Tax (naira – N)
1Aisha Abubakar20123, 429, 880.00420,654.48
20133, 622, 100.00420,654.48
20144, 415, 624.95552,279.48
2Khadija Bukar Ibrahim201213,598,7062,327,522.04
14Usani Uguru Usani2012840109.0940000
17Bawa Abubakar Bwari20121,216,68080,000
21Suleiman Hussaini Adamu20121,777,000150,000