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Nami: An unsung success story

It was an unexpected end-of-the-year gift to Nigerians when in the second week of December 2019 President Muhammadu Buhari announced the appointment of Muhammad Nami…

It was an unexpected end-of-the-year gift to Nigerians when in the second week of December 2019 President Muhammadu Buhari announced the appointment of Muhammad Nami as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service. Much as the appointment took many by surprise, for industry players, it was a well-deserved reward for a thoroughbred tax man who has proved his mettle in the nation’s tax space. To be sure, Nami had risen through the ranks to the position of senior consultant in charge of tax management and advisory services at PKF International, before he founded Manam Professional Services — a chartered tax practitioners and business advisers firm.

Upon mounting the saddle as the nation’s chief tax collector, Nami was under pressure to live up to the hype following his distinguished career in the private sector spanning almost three decades, and his service to the nation as a key member of the presidential audit committee on recoveries, where he helped in the recovery of loot from looters across the country.

The challenges of running FIRS at the time were daunting. Crude oil prices went as low as $30 per barrel, following which the National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) disclosed that its projected monthly remittance to the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) will be zero. The implication then (as it is now) is that Nami would have to think out of the box to be able to raise revenue from taxes to enable the government to pay salaries and meet other obligations. The COVID-19 pandemic which grounded business activities compounded his misery.

But he rose to the occasion. Nami commenced a deep and painful surgery at the FIRS anchored on a four-point agenda, to wit: to rebuild the FIRS institutional framework; improve collaboration with stakeholders; make the FIRS a customer-centric institution, and make the FIRS a data-centric institution. 

His reforms at the FIRS have left results that are difficult to ignore. Nami has plugged internal leakages and loopholes; an improved reward system for staff and deployed technology in tax administration. Today, the Tax Administration Solution (TaxPro-Max) deployed by the Service enables seamless registration, filing, payment of taxes, and automatic credit of withholding tax as well as other credits to the Taxpayer’s accounts. TaxPro-Max also provides a single view to Taxpayers for all transactions with the service. 

Needless to say, the new work climate at the FIRS has had a commensurate impact on output. In December 2020, the FIRS announced that it had collected a total of N4.95 trillion compared to its target of N5.07 trillion. This was an uncommon feat: it happened despite the COVID-19 pandemic and meant the FIRS had met up to 98% of its target.

Also, it is significant to say that the deployment of technology has had a far-reaching positive impact on tax collection. In June 2021 alone FIRS collected N664 billion. This was the single highest amount ever collected in a month by the service since the COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020.

Danladi Ndayebo, a former Commissioner of Information in Niger State lives in Abuja

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