FIRS Saved Nigeria During Covid-19- Femi Adesina

Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS,
Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS,

The Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS was one of the two federal revenue agencies that saved the day during the lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, in the year 2020. The other agency was the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS. This was disclosed on Friday by Femi Adesina, special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity. He was speaking while declaring open a conference at Safron Hotel, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos. It was a one-day training programme for business editors, finance correspondents and stakeholders in the Nigerian Taxation System. The programme, with the theme, Tax and Media: Communicating The Importance and Impact, was organized by the FIRS in collaboration with OMNIMEDIA Nigeria Limited.
Adesina said the lockdown, which was a global affair, affected the revenue from particularly Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, being the major source of revenue for the country, thus denying Nigeria the much needed revenue to combat the emergency of the time. Had the Service and its sister agency not risen up to the task, the government would have had a much more serious challenge dealing with its responsibility to the people, and the country during the lockdown and thereafter the negative impact on the economy the following year.
It will be recalled that the restrictions on the movement of peoples and goods between nations and within nations caused a shutdown in international trade and, so there were no requests for nor earnings from oil by oil producing countries of the world. The N4.9 trillion generated by the FIRS for that year was complemented by the Customs Service, which generated N1.56 trillion for the same year. The revenue from the two agencies, therefore, came in handy for the government to solve a lot of problems.
That revelation by Adesina underscored the objective of the training programme designed to sentise the stakeholders and media practitioners on the need to educate the populace on why they should pay tax to stimulate development. From Olusola Agbeluyi, vice president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, CITN to Gbenga Badejo, managing director, CEOGBC Professional Services to Ademola Adedoyin, Marketing Communications Specialist and Philips Folarin, professor of Law at the University of Lagos the consensus was that payment of tax is a compulsory responsibility for every member of the working class. They also said that it is the vehicle for development in a civilized society. They, therefore, advised that the Service should have a regular interface with the media, giving information and data to journalists from time to time on the development in the efforts of the Service to collect tax and also to improve the process of collection of tax. The data so provided, Adedoyin said, would enable the media practitioners to analyse and write stories, updating the people on the efforts of the Service and the need for the people to pay tax without waiting for staff of the Service to compel them to do so. The facilitators believe that regular engagement with the media to generate stories and reports on the improved efforts of the Service and the results was needed to sustain the tempo of information and awareness.
Charles Ode, who represented Muhammad Nami, executive chairman of the Service at the event, said the engagement with media had been on for some time. This, he said, included an annual briefing of business editors and finance correspondents as well as programmes on radio and television channels. The programmes, he explained, were designed to educate Nigerians on why they should pay tax. Ode, however, said the Service was well disposed to improving on that efforts with a purpose to achieving results.
Since the 2020 tax haul, the Service, by improving on its strategies including the use of technology, has continued to record increase in revenue collection by the year. Last year it raked in a record N10.1 trillion (though a shortfall from the target of N10.44 trillion), the highest that has been recorded by any revenue agency for the country.
Shola Oshunkeye, former managing director/editor-in-chief of The Sun of Ghana and president/CEO of The Crest Online Newspaper who coordinated the training programme appreciated the facilitators for the wonderful efforts at breaking down the issues for the media practitioners. He also thanked the editors for their contributions and patience.

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