Home Business Buhari names Fowler new FIRS chairman, appoints Gusua DG, Budget Office

Buhari names Fowler new FIRS chairman, appoints Gusua DG, Budget Office

by Business News Report

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Dr. William Babatunde Fowler as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). The President Buhari also named Mr. Aliyu Yahaya Gusau as Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation to replace Mr. Bright Okogwu.
Fowler served as the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Chairman, Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue between 2005 and 2014.
He had his higher education in the United States where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Business Administration degree from the California State University.
Fowler, who holds an Honorary Doctorate Degree of the Irish International University, is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and the Business Management Association of the United Kingdom.
Before joining the service of the Lagos State Government, Dr. Fowler worked in the banking sector for about 20 years with long stints at Credit Lyonnais Nigeria Limited and Chartered Bank.

Under his nine year leadership, the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue reportedly achieved a sharp increase in internally generated revenue from an average of N3.6 billion per month in January 2006, to an average of about N20.5 billion per month in 2013.
A statement from the State House, Abuja endorsed by the presidential spokeman, Mr. Femi Adesina said that Fowler would serve in acting capacity as Executive Chairman of FIRS until his appointment is confirmed by the Senate.
It will be recalled that Mr. Fowler in an interview with Vanguard on what he considered as his achievement had said that apart from the jump in Lagos state revenue, the acceptance, by members of the public, of the fact that taxes are required for development was his major achievement in Lagos. He said “I am convinced that we have succeeded in educating people on the importance of taxes. We have sent young people into the open market, unaccompanied by policemen, and they have faced no harassment from members of the public. Earning the trust of the public is a monumental achievement.
“There is no country or state that can achieve its objectives of governance without funding. Every leader who has a vision needs funding to achieve his objectives and payment of taxes is the primary source of funds for the government. Taxation is so important that in the parts of the world where it is well embedded in the political eco-system, it plays a major part in politics.
“The question of whether taxes will be raised or reduced is very important. Even ordinary citizens in those climes have come to understand that government cannot achieve anything if taxes are not paid. I believe that the people of Lagos State have also gotten to the point whereby those paying taxes understand and see what the taxes are doing for them.
“Lagos State currently receives an average of N8billion from the Federation Account on a monthly basis. Out of this, N6billion is spent on the payment of salaries. If we remove this, Lagos State will be left with only N2billion. This N2billion will not be enough for anything. Just imagine what Lagos will be without these taxes. Look at the recent Ebola outbreak in Lagos and the way the Lagos State Government dealt with it. Imagine a Lagos State without the financial might to curtail the virus.
“So, every government needs funds through taxes. If you say that Nigeria has oil, remember that Africa has the most resources yet it is the poorest continent. Between June and July this year, oil receipts dipped by about 19 per cent and this immediately affected revenue allocations to states. So, the only way to sustain development is to depend on taxation, which the government can plan with”.
On the basis of his achievement in Lagos, tax expert had advised Buhari to adopt the Lagos model of tax administration. The President had during his campaign alluded to the fact that he would adopt the Lagos model for internally generated revenue at the federal level.
At the Renaissance Capital’s Pan African Investor conference in Lagos tax expert had said that the administration led by General Muhammadu Buhari must look for ways of adopting the Lagos State’s revenue generation model, if it wants to deliver on its election promises in the face of depleted revenues, experts had said. They insisted that if Lagos State has been able to generate the bulk of its internally generated revenue (IGR) from taxes, then governments both at the Federal and state levels should not have any excuse for not being able to fund their activities despite the oil price slump and the reduction in Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) disbursements. This perhaps is what inform the appointment of Fowler as the Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue service by the President yesterday.
Meanwhile, the appointment of Gusau who replaces Mr. Bright Okogwu is with immediate effect. Signed on August 18, 2015, the presidential statement added that “Gusau’s appointment is for a term of four years, renewable for another four years, unless he attains the retirement age of 60 years or completes 35 years of pensionable service.”

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