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FIRS generates N5trn, targets N5.3trn by year end

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The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler has said the Service has generated N5 trillion by the second week of December 2018, adding that the agency is at the verge of making N5.3 trillion at the end of the year.

If the FIRS pools N5.3 trillion revenue, that will be the highest revenue ever generated by FIRS in history. The highest in FIRS history is N5.07 trillion generated in 2012.

Fowler’s generation of N5 trillion is significant as it was at a period when oil prices oscillated between $50 and $70 per barrel. Oil price was at an average of $100 to $120 per barrel between 2010 and 2013.

Speaking at the induction of new members of the Joint Tax Board (JTB) on Wednesday in Abuja, Fowler said FIRS has been able to record significant achievements following maximum support from the Presidency, Ministry of Finance, the JTB and other taxation stakeholders.

“This year, the FIRS, with the support of the Presidency, Ministry of Finance, the JTB and other stakeholders, has been able to generate up to N5 trillion. We believe that we should be able to close at least at N5.3 trillion which should be the highest in the history of FIRS. And we believe that with that additional revenue, the state and federal governments would be able to provide more services and more development to the people of Nigeria”, he said.

Fowler urged the new inductees to JTB to equip themselves with new ideas and embrace the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to be able to face the reality of revenue collection in the ever-changing society.

“I see it as a privilege to be addressing this class of inductees today as history has chosen you at this critical point in time in our nations development to steer the ship of sustainable revenue generation.

“While preparing for this occasion, I came across an observation by the American inventor and author Ray Kurzweil where he noted that the rate of scientific and technological change is exponential rather than linear. This observation presupposes that the better part of applied wisdom requires that in our journey of life we are capable of identifying the most apt moment to know at what point to adapt to the ever-tumultuous sea that modern existence represents.

“It also indicates that we should be able to develop the ability to accept and embrace positive change, maybe due to the fact that change is inevitable, but more significantly that oftentimes, change presents us with the rare breaks that we can exploit to advance individual and collective goals and objectives”, he said.

The FIRS boss also stated that as global society continues to transform in structure and process, especially with new technologies and ways of doing things, the role that has been presented before tax administrators in an emerging economy such as Nigeria are quite enormous.

He said rather than being overwhelmed by the rapid changes of the 21st century, taxmen should remain undaunted and see the opportunities that are possible to us as a people in general and as tax administrators in particular.

“I believe that history has placed this responsibility on each and every one of us here today to be the critical success factors in our quest towards ensuring sustainable revenue generation for our various jurisdictions and for our country as well.

Developments in global politics and economics indicate a trend towards increased deemphasis on proceeds from oil and other commodity exports. Huge investments are being made everyday by more advanced economies towards seeking alternative energy sources; and sooner rather than later, oil as a mainstay of the nation’s economy will indeed no longer be sustainable, it is just a matter of time”, he added.

He further charged the JTB members: “This address is not an all doom and gloom affair, far from it. Rather, it is a clarion call to us all, especially you, our esteemed inductees, that though the path before you may seem strewn with sticks and stones, further down the road is a path paved with gold. To navigate to that path, we will need to have courage, a courage borne of our innate convictions towards being the tool for positive change in a time of economic uncertainty.

“The JTB presents a unique platform for you to be that change. Your positive actions as the drivers of revenue generation are capable of achieving much impact. They are capable of providing the much needed funds that will provide the care that saves the life of that infant who is born in the remotest parts of Birnin Magaji in Zamfara State.

“They can provide the funds that ensures that a disadvantaged little child can have access to free quality education in a government funded public school in Ijesa-Isu in Ekiti State. Your actions as drivers of sustainable revenue generation in your respective jurisdictions beyond the bigger picture can achieve the little things that bring about great outcomes in the life of a nation.

“It is in the light of this that I charge you, even as you speak the words of your Membership affirmation, that you look beyond the immediate and see the deeper significance of your roles and your responsibilities as members of the JTB.

“The modest achievements that we have been able to accomplish in terms of internal revenue growth in recent time only point to the fact of the immense possibilities before us. We are encouraged that the results of the 9-month period in 2018 indicates that we shall be breaking new boundaries by full year. However, we can only strive to improve on our efforts and not rest on our oars. We can only become better at what we do, and we can only do that by embracing the positive trends in tax administration. Trends in automation, professionalism, autonomy, service-oriented approach to the taxpayer and all the positive trends that conform with international best practice.

“We are confident that by the end of this exercise and after listening to the various presentations, we shall all be better equipped for the task ahead of us”, he said. Former Secretaries of JTB, Femi Edgar, Mohammed Lawal Abubakar and the incumbent, Oseni Salawe Elamah made presentations on the history and journey of the Board to the new inductees.

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S’Court to hear Adeleke, PDP appeal on Osun governorship poll today

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The Supreme Court has fixed Monday (today) to hear the appeal filed by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the September 2018 governorship election in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke.

The date of the hearing was contained in notices sent to parties to the suit, which also has the PDP as plaintiff, last week by the Registry of the Supreme Court.

Adeleke and the PDP are seeking the reversal of the May 9, 2019 majority judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which upheld the election of Adegboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress as the Governor of Osun State.
The ruling of the Court of Appeal came after the March 22, 2019 judgment of the Osun State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which ruled by split decision to give victory to Adeleke and the PDP.

Justices Peter Obiorah and Adegboye Gbolagunte, in the majority decision, upheld the petition, voided Oyetola’s victory and declared Adeleke of the PDP winner of the poll.

Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, who chaired the tribunal, however, gave a minority judgment that dissented and struck out the petition on the grounds that the petitioners did not prove their case.

Oyetola, APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission appealed the majority judgment at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, while Adeleke and the PDP appealed the minority decision.

On May 9, 2019 the Court of Appeal gave its decisions on the appeals, with four members of the five-man panel upholding the appeals by Oyetola, APC and INEC, and dismissing the cross-appeal by Adeleke and the PDP.
The Court of Appeal’s majority judgement set aside the majority judgment of the election tribunal, upheld the result as declared by INEC and affirmed Oyetola of the APC as winner of the election.

Justices Jummai Sankey, Abubakar Yahaya, Isaiah Akeju and Bitrus Sanga gave the majority decision, while Justice George Mbaba gave the minority judgment, in which he dismissed the appeals and upheld the cross-appeal.
The appeal to be heard by the Supreme Court on Monday is that filed by Adeleke against the majority decisions of the Court of Appeal.

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Sanwo-Olu to set up special courts for traffic offenders

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has declared total war on traffic offence, saying special courts will be created to try offenders, who will be made to serve their punishment if found guilty at the point of contravention.

Sanwo-Olu said his administration would not spare anyone, irrespective of status that endangers lives of road users by disobeying the state traffic regulations.

The Governor spoke on Sunday, at an Interdenominational Thanksgiving Service organised by the Lagos chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and held at Deeper Life Bible Church Headquarters in Gbagada, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.

He said: “We want the people to obey Lagos traffic law. We want them to understand that they are not the only road users who have right of way. If you want my government to finish well, don’t drive against the traffic.

“We are working with the Acting Chief Judge of the State to set up special mobile courts that will dispense judgment on traffic offences. Any offender would be made to serve the punishment immediately, which could be in form of compulsory community service. We are declaring zero tolerance for disobedience to traffic rules.”

Sanwo-Olu said the task of realising the ‘Greater Lagos’ project would be difficult without the support of the residents, urging Christians in the state to join hands with his government in its efforts to create a prosperous Lagos.

Christian leaders in the State expressed satisfaction over the choice of Sanwo-Olu as the governor, describing him as “a complete child of God and the one we have been waiting for.’’

The CAN leaders observed that Sanwo-Olu’s administration took off on a promising note, reassuring the governor that the body of Christ in Lagos State would remain in prayers for him to finish well.

The 50,000-seater auditorium of the church was filled to capacity, as a crowd of worshippers trooped in to join the Governor and his wife, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, in the thanksgiving.

In his homily titled: “Finishing Well,” CAN Chairman, Lagos State, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, described life as “a race”, pointing out that Sanwo-Olu’s emergence was a call to service.

He urged the governor to always seek the pleasure of God before taking decisions.

While observing that many leaders failed because they sought the pleasure of man and severed their connections with God, Bamgbola said a leader must be just in deciding the affairs of the society.

Reading from 2nd Samuel 23:1-4, the clergyman listed attributes of leaders who wanted to finish well.

Directing the message to the Governor, Bamgbola said: “You must run with God if you want to finish the race of life well. Run with fear and pleasure of God. Run courageously and deliberately to win.

“Run the race without worldly distractions. Run with knowledge of eternity, because all leaders will give account of their stewardship on Judgement Day. So therefore, you must run the race with the aim to make heaven.”

Responding, Sanwo-Olu appreciated the Christian leaders and members of their congregation for the thanksgiving, enjoining residents to obey the law as part of their responsibility to the state.

The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, Lagos All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman, Alhaji Tunde Balogun, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr Tayo Ayinde, Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr Gboyega Soyannwo, and white-cap chiefs who represented the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, were among the dignitaries at the event.

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EU report: 2019 elections fair, Presidency insists

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Ahead of the 2023 elections, the European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria has called for a reform of the nation’s electoral process.

It stated that a lack of transparency and inconsistent numbers during the collation of results by the Independent National Elecoral Commission cast a long shadow over the integrity of the 2019 elections.

It has, therefore, presented 30 recommendations on electoral reform to improve future elections in the country.

The EU EOM final report on the 2019 elections was presented by the EU Chief Observer, Maria Arena, and her deputy, Hannah Roberts, at a press conference in Abuja on Saturday.

The report read in part, “The EU observed 94 collation centres. In almost all, the results forms and smart card readers were not packed in tamper-evident envelopes as required.

“Numerical discrepancies and anomalies on polling unit results forms were identified and were mostly corrected by collation officers on the spot, but without a clear system of record-keeping.”

It added, “Leading parties were at fault in not reining in acts of violence and intimidation by their supporters, and abuse of incumbency at federal and state levels.”

“Inconsistent numbers during collation, “lack of clear checks and explanations, and insufficient public information undermined the integrity of the elections.

“Citizens did not have sufficient means to scrutinise results. INEC did not provide centralised information on the declared results for the different locations and has not posted complete results data on its website.

“Similarly, there is a lack of disaggregated results by local government, ward or polling unit, which would allow for thorough checking of results.”

The mission observed further that the discrepancies and the insufficient public information were not in line with international standards for access to information and public accountability.

It also noted that the citizens did not have sufficient means to scrutinise results, stressing that INEC did not provide centralised information on the declared results for the different elections.

The mission, in its recommendations, stressed the need to strengthen the procedures for the collation of results to improve integrity and confidence in electoral outcomes.

It submitted that the systemic failings seen in the elections, and the relatively low levels of voter participation, indicated the need for fundamental electoral reform.

Arena said, “Such reform needs political leadership that is dedicated to the rights of Nigerian citizens, and an inclusive process of national dialogue involving state institutions, parties, civil society and the media. This needs to be urgently undertaken to allow time for debate, legislative changes and implementation well in advance of the next elections.”

She also said INEC should considerably strengthen its organisational and operational capacity as well as its internal communication, noting that the inter-agency body responsible for electoral security should work more transparently and inclusively with regular consultations with political parties and civil society.

The mission said the the seven areas of priorities for electoral reform included requirements in law for full results transparency with data easily accessible to the public.

The EU EOM also called for the introduction of a legal requirement for parties to have a minimum representation of women among candidates, faulting the low number of female candidates for the polls.

It further recommended that election tribunals should cover pre-election cases in order to improve access to remedy and to avoid petitions being taken to different courts at the same time.

Overall, the EU EOM concluded that the elections were marked by severe operational and transparency shortcomings, security problems and low turnout.

It added, “Positively, however, the elections were competitive, parties were able to campaign and civil society enhanced accountability. Leading parties were at fault in not reining in acts of violence and intimidation by their supporters, and abuse of incumbency at federal and state levels.”

-PUNCH

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