The National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, has described reports criticising the proposed 2022 expenditure of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, as spurious and mischievous.
National President of the NYCN, Comrade Solomon Adodo, who stated this at a press conference in Abuja, expressed worry over the publication and the alleged “sinister intentions behind it.”
Adodo noted that NYCN will not fold its hands to watch individuals or corporate organisations drag the FIRS and its well-intended programmes, aimed at salvaging the country’s economy, to the mud.
“NYCN can not sit back and watch the national tax administration and the well-intentioned programmes of the FIRS be dragged into the mud, especially if viewed against the backdrop of the fact that the agency mobilises revenue for our Commonwealth, thereby contributing to our national economic development as well as the well-being of ordinary Nigerians generally,” he said.
Recall that a Punch Newspaper report of October 17, 2021, had in a banner headline christened “FIRS to spend N2.8bn on uniforms, N550m on meals, Board members to earn N370m sitting allowance,” provided detailed analysis of the proposed expenditure of the agency.
The report, which did not go down well with the FIRS in view of the fact that it was only a proposed budget, noted that the tax body budgeted about N550m for refreshments and N200m for sporting activities.
“The FIRS, which is one of the highest revenue generating government bodies, set aside N262.5m for security votes while N17.8bn would be spent on “miscellaneous” expenses,” it said.
According to the youth council, “any discerning mind would see that the said budget estimate is a proposed expenditure that would eventually pass through the eagle eyes of the National Assembly for rigorous scrutiny.”
The council wondered why such a document should suddenly become public controversy as depicted in the report.
“Even though the official response of the FIRS to that publication has put to rest all misconceptions, and addressed the obvious political mischief intended by the vexatious publication, we feel inclined to add our voices to the issue if only to finally nail the coffin.
“The public may wonder along with the media on why the NYCN bothers itself with what is generally believed to be the spurious, concocted and mischievously slanted story about the FIRS’s proposed expenditure as published by the Punch Newspapers and circulated on some social media platforms,” it said.
The youths noted that “It will be a national disservice for a serious-minded and reputable organization like the NYCN to ignore such a pertinent national issue.”
NYCN further expressed worry that an attempt was made by the publication to seek an explanation or clarification from FIRS on the various expenditure sub-headings contained in the document.
“Another issue of concern is the question: why is somebody or a group of persons particularly interested in the expenditure proposal of the FIRS? Your guess may be as good as ours. To us, it is all politics.
“We can understand that it is normal for some people not to like the progress being achieved by the leadership of FIRS. However, our concern and worry are that this whole political buccaneering will put to jeopardy the revenue generation, fund mobilization and tax administration that are germane to the national development.
“Without gainsaying the fact, the business of revenue generation is too serious an economic business that it should not be subjected to the kind of infantile politicking intended by that publication. FIRS is a proactive revenue-generating agency that takes its mandate very seriously.
“We must not forget in a hurry that recently FIRS came down heavily on some notable big tax offenders, and made them pay their outstanding tax liabilities.
“And so, every attempt made by such tax defaulters to intimidate FIRS to make it shirk its patriotic duty was firmly and roundly rebuffed. We know that some people somewhere would wish to continue with their tax crimes. But we say a big NO to that. It is about time that, as Nigerians, we focused on development instead of petty politics,” the youths said.
While commending the good work done by FIRS, the council noted that since the assumption of office by the Chairman of FIRS, Muhammad Nami, on 18 December 2019, he has initiated and implemented several strategic reforms aimed at making tax administration more effective, particularly through expanding the National Tax Net so that more revenue could be generated without raising the percentage of tax paid.
“The determination of the Nami-led FIRS to go after some big and hitherto untouchable tax offenders has continued to gain traction. For example, many businesses that either did not pay taxes or did not pay the correct amount have been made to pay under the very deliberate programme of the Management,” the council said.