Blackbox Nigeria


Mischief-makers and the FIRS

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Mischief-makers and the FIRS

The social media was recently awash with wild insinuations about “widespread, massive sleaze” in the Federal Inland Revenue Service. This was apparently based on unverified accounts by some online media platforms.
A true picture however came following indepth reports by leading national dailies detailing what really happened. The earlier impression created was that the financial malfeasance permeated the top echelon of the service. Humongous figure of “several billions of naira” was being bandied about.
But we now learnt that it only involved a few junior and middle-level officials and that credit for ensuring that the erring workers answered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) actually belongs to the management of the service.

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Again, the figure later authenticated to be involved was a far cry from the amount the social media had put in their screaming headlines. In anyway case, considering the massive scale of the service’s operation involving more than 300 outstation offices, it would have been humanly impossible for the organization to achieve zero-infraction.
What really happened? Since the current management came on board three years ago, a lot of institutional mechanism has been put in place to plug leakages so much that the bad eggs increasingly began to find it difficult to game the system.
Even at the management level, a murmur was beginning to grow that the “fat cats” no longer had discretion to incur expenses under the guise of maintenance. For instance, professionals are now engaged to maintain scores of outstation offices the service run across the country at a reasonable cost, far far below the amount being spent in the past when such responsibilities were in the hands of the sitting administrative heads.
The result was that some elements became desperately ingenious by filing bogus Duty Tour Claims (DTA) claims for trips. Thanks to the automation of processes by the new management, it was discovered that, fairly on a regular basis over a period of time, the accused officials were collecting DTA for trips not embarked upon.
It is therefore curious that the impression created initially by the social media platforms was to paint the management of the service black when it should be praised for ensuring that the erring officials were being made to cough out the money they had gamed from the system.
Given the persistence of such false narrative in a section of the social media, there is no prize for guessing that some elements are out with a sinister agenda aimed at discrediting the service. Of course, the goal could only be to distract the management from sustaining ongoing reforms which has led to tax revenue almost being doubled within three years that the Muhammadu Buhari administration came on board, thereby enabling governments at the federal and state levels to deliver on their development agenda to the teeming populace.
Rather than be demoralized, one can only hope that the board and management of the service will continue to keep their eyes on the ball in order to improve on the mileage already achieved.

Ibrahim Idrisu,
Asokoro, Abuja.

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