Uche Usim, Abuja
More facts have emerged as to why the presidency turned down the request of erstwhile Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Tunde Fowler, for a second four-year term in office.
A leaked memo from Fowler to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha dated December 9, 2019, reveals he clearly requested for an extension of his tenure to enable him consolidate on his achievements.
Sources said that the request was turned down without a second thought as the issues raised in the query to Fowler by the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari, over discrepancies in remitted revenues were still haunting him.
According to top government sources, “there was no way the tenure of a man with such heavy baggage could have been renewed and that was why President Muhammadu Buhari quickly announced his replacement”.
Kyari’s query dated August 8 was titled; “RE: Budgeted FIRS Collections and Actual Collections” centred on poor revenue collections between 2015 and 2018.
It reads: “Your attached letter (FIRS/EC/ECW/0249/19/027 dated July 26, 2019) on the above subject matter refers.
“We observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018. Accordingly, you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between budgeted and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018.
“Furthermore, we observed that the actual collections for the period 2015 to 2017 were significantly lower, worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014. Accordingly, you are kindly to explain the reason for the poor collections.
You are kindly invited to respond by August 19, 2019.”
Fowler immediately responded to the issues raised but the plot to replace him had already thickened.
Other allegations leveled against him include; sedimented corruption via inflated contracts and supervising the abuse of duty tour allowances by staff; money-for-employment scandal, flooding the agency with parasitic consultants thus making many staff redundant; parading questionable certificates which shows he may have been scammed by foreign institutions; discrepancies in revenue generation and remittance.
He was also alleged to be involved in; extravagant weekly spending on concerts and parties in Lagos, Port Harcourt and other major cities within and outside Nigeria, frivolous donations to organizations while staff entitlements for official engagements would take a long time to settle.
There was also the allegation of suspension of tax audit and case investigation functions in various field offices since January 2016 and the engagement of friends as FIRS consultants to carry out core tax functions of audit, investigations, taxpayers’ registrations and other ancillaries of the service. There is also the indiscriminate transfer of senior officers to non-existent offices and/or non-functional training schools nationwide.
Under Fowler’s tenure, the FIRS generated its highest revenue of N5.3 trillion in 2018.