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When the music is good to our ears, we dance. And if we cannot dance, then we clap. Or we do both!

This piece is not to sing the praises of a government agency without rhyme or reason. It is a fact based opinion piece on the historic feat of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in recording its highest ever tax collection of N10.1 trillion in a single year.

The first indication that FIRS could cross the N10 trillion mark came in September last year when it collected N7.5 trillion in tax in nine months to surpass its entire 2021 figure of N6.4 trillion.

It was at that point that it became obvious that the reforms introduced by Muhammed Nami within a year of assuming office as FIRS Executive Chairman in 2019, had began to yield dividends.

Indeed the fruits of those reforms began to show in 2021, one year after the global lockdown caused by COVID-19, with a tax collection figure of N6.4 trillion,which at the time was the highest ever revenue recorded by the Federal tax agency.

Even at that, the 2022 target of N10.4 trillion looked like a tall dream. Not because of capacity or the lack of it, but because adding N4trillion to the historic figure of the previous year simply looked unattainable at a time much of the world was still feeling the impact of a global economic crisis.

But surprisingly, the FIRS chairman, like a man with a gift of clairvoyancy had told the House of Representatives Committee on Finance at a public hearing on the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), sometime in August 2021, that the agency was projecting to collect tax revenue of over N10 trillion for 2022.

And that was exactly what happened with the 2022 Performance update showing an unprecedented figure of N4.09 trillion from the oil sector and N5.96 trillion from non-oil to bring the total collection for the year to N10.1 trillion.

So what were the factors responsible for the two back-to-back record collection feats?

A look at what Nami brought to the table after assuming office may provide some insight into what has been happening in the last 3 years.

He came into FIRS with a private sector background and, I dare say, mentality and immediately set out what he wanted to achieve in a four-point agenda: to rebuild the FIRS institutional framework; to improve collaboration with stakeholders; to make the FIRS a customer-centric institution and to make the agency a data-centric institution.

These were the pegs on which the historic feat could be hung especially as the reforms played major roles in breaching the N10 trillion revenue collection mark.

“The reforms introduced at different times from 2020 are gradually yielding fruits.  By the close of 2022, the Service had fully restructured the administration of the Service for maximum efficiency and achieved internal cohesion such that all functional units are working in unison towards the achievement of set goals.  

“As a result of conducive environment created for staff, officers of the Service are pulling their weight on the global stage with international recognitions and awards.

“The Service had also automated most of the administrative and operational processes.  A major leap was the full deployment of the TaxPro Max for end-to-end administration of taxes in June 2021.  The module for the automated TCC went live 1st January 2023 while taxpayers had already downloaded over 1,000 TCCs this year without having to visit FIRS office,” the report read. 

It is interesting to note that the report also stated that the N10.1 trillion does not include tax waived on account of various tax incentives granted under different laws which according to FIRS amounted to N1,805,040,163,008.

This is certainly a huge figure that shows the possibility of the agency doing better not only in the 2023 financial year but also in coming ones.

In the midst of all these is the long standing vow by President Muhammadu Buhari to break Nigeria’s over reliance on oil and from all indications the FIRS management has keyed into it with its performance especially in the last two years.

This ongoing effort to wean the country from its over dependence on revenue from oil is a major reason why Nigeria did not suffer the full effect of the drop in global oil prices.

Today, the revenue projection for 2023 showed that 78% of total revenue is coming from the non-oil sector and of course the FIRS is bound to be a major contributor.

And this is visible from how the agency has shown, for two years running, that it has the necessary capacity to be the lead contributor to the good performance of the non-oil sector.

But more importantly is that FIRS has shown that it will be instrumental in any effort to address the country’s revenue challenge.

Mr. Dapo Okunbajo is a public affairs commentator and veteran journalist.

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The former Chairman of Seplat Energy Plc, Ambrose Orjiako

The former Chairman of Seplat Energy Plc, Ambrose Orjiako, on Friday, denied any wrongdoing to the company, following various allegations levelled against him by the oil firm.

On Thursday, The PUNCN reported that Seplat filed a writ of summons before the Federal High Court in Abuja, suing the ex-chairman for damages amounting to N5bn.

The writ, with Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/386/2023, was filed before the court on March 21, 2023, and the court ordered the defendant to appear before it within 30 days.

 Seplat Energy Plc

In the suit, Seplat asked the court to declare the use of its official letterhead by Orjiako to make an offer in the sum of $300m, without recourse to the Board, a clear breach of the terms of their subsisting consulting agreement and a breach of the Companies and Allied Matter Act, 2020, among other issues.

But on Friday, Orjiako denied any wrongdoing in the letter he initiated to the Federal Government to facilitate the consummation of the lingering $1.3bn Mobil sales deal.

Orjiako said he acted within the scope of his mandate for the benefit of the company, stressing that the energy firm was already benefitting from the values created by the letter to the presidency.

He made the clarification in a statement by his legal adviser, Senator Ikechukwu Obiorah.

 Orjiako also said he had instructed his lawyers to take the necessary legal steps, including seeking appropriate damages from those behind what he described as a “mischief.”

The statement read in part, “The attention of Dr Ambrose Orjiako, the pioneer Chairman of Seplat Energy Plc, has been drawn to the various malicious  newspaper publications, the last being of the so called law suit filed by some persons claiming to be acting in  the interest of the  company.

“He had hitherto refrained from joining them in the unfortunate affray. It has, however, become necessary to let the public be aware of the mischief of these individuals who have masked their personal interest over that of the wellbeing of Seplat, a company that has earned a notable repute.

“Orjiako, the co-founder of Seplat, under the written authorisation of the Board of Directors of Seplat, had the mandate to manage certain specific stakeholders of the company in respect of  the transaction which necessitated the subject communication.”

He argued that the letter referenced in the publications was written following appropriate discussions and was strictly for and in the best interest of SEPLAT.

“Also, the authorisation in the said letter expressly identifies Orjiako as the pioneer chairman,” the statement added.

It said the public should therefore not lay any credence on to law suit and the sensational publications the suit was filed to achieve.

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Central Bank of Nigeria has directed all commercial banks to open for operation on Saturdays and Sundays, as part of a coordinated effort to ease circulation of banknotes of various denominations.

The apex bank also confirmed the evacuation of banknotes from its vaults to commercial banks across the country.

This latest development was disclosed in a statement signed by CBN Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isa AbdulMumin, in Abuja, on Friday afternoon.

The statement noted that, a substantial amount of money, in various denominations, had been received by commercial banks, for onward circulation to their respective customers, even as it prevailed on banks, to conduct physical operations in banking halls through the weekends.

Excerpts of the statement read: “The CBN has directed all banks to load their Automated Teller Machines, as well as conduct physical operations in the banking halls through the weekends.

“Branches of commercial banks will operate on Saturdays and Sundays to attend to customers’ cash needs.

“The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, would personally lead teams to monitor the level of compliance by the banks in various locations across the country,” it stressed.

The bank, therefore, urged Nigerians to be patient, as the current situation would ease soon, with the injection of more banknotes into circulation.

The PUNCH reports that authorities have stepped up efforts to end the biting currency scarcity that has inflicted pain on millions of bank customers nationwide, after a Supreme Court ruling, and a proposed protest by Nigeria Labour Congress, scheduled for next week.

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GAC Motor is set to take over the new vehicle assembly responsibility from its licensed importer in Nigeria, Choice International Group (CIG Motors) with the opening of a new G-Style Showroom in Abuja recently.

According to a statement by the company, CIG facilitated a joint venture between the Governor of Lagos State for the use of 1000 GAC Motors (GS3 SUV & GA4) to create an iconic urban public travel project known as LAGRIDE. “This project has changed the overall appearance of the public transportation system in Lagos State, it has also created more local jobs which has provided Nigerian youths with more dignified and rewarding ways of earning a living, including local third-party service suppliers.

GAC Motors
GAC Motors

“Nigeria is an important market for our Africa expansion plans, especially in West Africa, where we have identified opportunities of developing a collaborative automotive industry hub amongst the countries in the region. The hub concept will ensure that each country with an automotive development policy or economic interest in the automotive industry has an important role to play in the supply value chain. We have also recorded the following milestones; Installation and operation of a state-of-the-art automobile assembly facility in Nigeria;  Installation and operation of an integrated industrial and domestic home appliances manufacturing facility in Nigeria; Facilitated the successful operation of the first World Class Private Taxi Project “LAGRIDE” a Joint Venture Partnership with the Lagos State Government.” 

According to Diana Chen, “GAC is fully committed to supporting creative artistry culture and its industrial transformation agenda despite the current economic challenges facing the country. We are here for the long haul. Our company believes in long term investments which are nurtured through mutual relationships with like-minded partners. Nigeria’s commitment to the development of its automotive industry is evident in the GADP, which is still the blueprint automotive policy in the region in terms of creating an enabling environment for the establishment of an automotive industry in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Following the debut of the first-ever GAC G-Style showroom in Lagos, Nigeria, the launch of the second G-Style showroom in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja represents yet another significant turning point in the development and extension of the GAC network across Nigeria.

GAC has a presence in 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa where it sells passenger and commercial vehicles through licensed importers.

“As the frontier for the Fortune Global 500 Company of the automotive industry, Africa has become very important for the sustainability of GAC Motors. We are therefore accelerating our growth strategy on the continent by playing a pioneering and leading role in the development of the automotive industry.”

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