President Muhammadu Buhari has queried the chief executive of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Babatunde Fowler, over worsening tax collection since 2015.
Sources within FIRS confirmed the development on Sunday after a letter querying Fowler’s low performance appeared on social media in the morning.
In the query stamp-dated August 8, by Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari, said the presidency “observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.”
Since 2015, FIRS under Fowler has not been able to meet collection targets, a different trend from the preceding years.
In 2015, FIRS set N4.7 trillion target but was only able to make N3.7 trillion in the actual collection. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the target collections were N4.2 trillion, N4.8 trillion and N6.7 trillion but the actual collections were N3.3 trillion, N4.0 trillion and N5.3 trillion, respectively.
Worried by the variances, the presidency asked Fowler for an explanation.
“Accordingly, you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018,” Kyari wrote.
Fowler was appointed FIRS boss in 2015, the year Mr Buhari was elected president. He succeeded Mr Samuel Odugbesan appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Fowler had held a similar role in Lagos State, Nigeria’s richest state.
Analysis of Nigeria’s tax statistics showed that before Buhari and Fowler came in 2015, the only year FIRS could not meet its collection target was 2006 since the year 2000.
But in the query served Fowler, the presidency only mentioned 2012 to 2014, period that fell under the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Further we have observed that actual collections for the period between 2015 and 2017 were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014,” stated Kyari. “Accordingly, you are kindly invited to explain the reasons for the poor collections.”
Mr. Fowler was asked to respond by Monday, August 19.
Spokesperson for FIRS, Mr Wahab Gbadamosi, could not be reached for comment on this report. Sources at the FIRS said he is currently abroad.
The query to Fowler comes weeks after an anti-corruption agency, EFCC, detained top officials of FIRS for several days as part of a corruption investigation.
That investigation is still ongoing by EFCC.