Nigeria: Nami Becomes FIRS Chair, As Buhari Drops Fowler

10 December 2019

Abuja — The tour of duty of Mr. Babatunde Fowler as chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has finally ended as President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday did not renew his appointment for another term of four years.

Instead, the president named Mr. Muhammad Nami as the new chairman of the FIRS as Fowler's tenure expired yesterday.

Nami's appointment is, however, subject to ratification by the Senate.

Indications that Fowler might not get a second term had emerged in August when the presidency queried the tax czar over shortfalls in revenue collection since the inception of the Buhari administration.

The presidency had complained that there had been significant variances between the budgeted revenue collections and the actual collections from 2015 to 2018.

Fowler was also directed, in the query signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, to explain why actual revenue collections between 2015 and 2017 were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014.

Though Fowler provided a response to the query, explaining that FIRS' tax collection actually surpassed past efforts and attributing the decline in revenue between 2015 and 2017 to recession and fall in the oil price and production, his response did not apparently satisfy his employers.

Fowler's would-be successor is a tax consultant and graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in Kaduna State.

"Mr. Muhammad, a well-trained tax, accounting and management professional with highly rated qualifications and professional practice and licences from relevant professional bodies, has almost three decades of practical work experience in auditing, tax management and advisory and management services to clients in the banking, manufacturing, services and public sectors as well as non-profit organisations," the presidency said in statement by a presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu.

Buhari also approved the composition of the board of FIRS.

Nami attended Bayero University Kano and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology (1991) and a Masters of Business degree (2004) respectively.

He is a fellow of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Institute of Debt Recovery Practitioners of Nigeria and Associate Member of Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered) and Association of National Accountants of Nigeria.

Nami started his career with PFK in 1993 and rose to the position of a senior Consultant in charge of Tax management and advisory services.

He is currently the managing consultant of Manam Professional Services (Chartered Tax Practitioners and Business Advisers) based in Kaduna with offices in Abuja and Niger State.

Nami has served, and is still serving, on many companies' board and statutory board audit committees.

He was appointed as a member, Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Stolen Assets in November, 2017 by Buhari.

The FIRS Establishment Act provides that "the executive chairman shall be appointed by the president subject to the confirmation of the Senate.

"The chairman and other members of the board, other than ex-officio members, shall each hold office for a term of four years, renewable once only."

Fowler Thanks Buhari, Hands Over to Aina

Meanwhile, Fowler yesterday thanked the president for the privilege he gave him to serve the nation and for what he was able to do with the support of all FIRS staff.

A statement by Head, Communications and Servicom Department, FIRS, Mr. Wahab Gbadamosi, quoted Fowler as saying while handing over to the Coordinating Director, Domestic Taxes Group, Abiodun Aina, that the taxman job is one of service to one's fatherland as it gives one the opportunity to serve fellow humans and the nation.

He said: "There is nothing automatic about having a second Term. Some of you might say it's a big surprise. It is a privilege to serve one's country. And if you have the privilege of serving your country for one term and you believe you have done your best, you have to thank God for that."

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