The newly appointed chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS), who is to serve in an initial acting capacity, Mr. Zacch Adedeji on Monday resumed duties with a boisterous spirit of promised action, to boost Nigeria’s revenue collection.
On day one, the new head of the country’s top revenue agency acknowledged the fact that Nigeria presently is confronted with a pressing revenue crisis, where a staggering 96 percent of government revenue is being funneled into servicing of debts.
According to the new FIRS boss, this unsustainable and stark reality, necessitates a quick swift and resolute action. “We cannot afford to delay; we must act decisively to reverse this concerning trend,” Mr. Adedeji told a gathering of the agency’s senior staff and reporters as he took over the battle of leadership.
One of the very first actions that Dr. Adedeji would likely take to improve the deplorable tax situation in the country is to go after tax defaulters. This step is necessary to aggressively drive compliance.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, the new FIRS boss explained that “For those who deviate from their tax obligations, rest assured, we will enforce our responsibilities judiciously,” he stated, adding that his administration will implement a robust enforcement model that effectively defers tax evaders while maintaining fairness and transparency in the processes of the service.
Available records indicate that Nigeria has one of the word’s lowest tax collection rates at approximately 10.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), though tax receipts did rise by 56 percent in 2022 to a record 10 trillion naira ($13bn).
Dr. Adedeji who is poised to pursue a brighter fiscal future for Nigeria also vows that under him, the federal revenue agency will totally align itself with President Bola Tinubu’s esteemed Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee to even surpass Africa’s average tax-to-GDP ratio of 16.5 percent and achieve an impressive 18 percent within three years.
As he resumes to shape a prosperous fiscal landscape that empowers Nigeria’s growth and development, the new FIRS chief executive has also committed to simplifying the nation’s tax system, making it accessible and comprehensible, with a focus on facilitating voluntary tax payments and fostering a sense of civic responsibility.
Interestingly, Mr. Adedeji also says that under his leadership, quality data will be the cornerstone of the FIRS’ operations, enabling the agency to measure progress, make informed decisions, and maintain the highest standards of accountability.
“We recognise that data-driven strategies are essential to our success. I pledge to maintain an open-door policy, actively engaging with stakeholders to collaboratively construct a tax administration that we can all take pride in. Together, we will build an institution that serves as a beacon of excellence,” he stated.
President Tinubu in June this year had announced Mr. Adedeji as one of his eight newly Special Advisers- specifically in charge of revenue. This position obviously was to prepare the ground for the new position, which he now holds to pilot the affairs of Nigeria’s top revenue agency.
Previously, Mr. Adedeji served as a former Commissioner for Finance in Oyo State during the administration of late former Governor Abiola Ajimobi. The new FIRS was also the 5th substantive Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), up until March 2021 where he turned around the fortunes of the agency.
Mr. Adedeji is well known as an expert generalist in overseeing several aspects of multi-million-dollar businesses, a proactive, goal-oriented senior executive with extensive international financial management and operations experience both in the private and public sectors. He is a Fellow of Chartered Accountant (FCA) member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) as well as Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.
As a consummate financial expert with with grounded experience in financial and general management, there is renewed hope that Mr. Adedeji will keep to his promise of charting a new course ahead for the FIRS, to make it more-committed in placing innovation, technology, and fresh ideas at the forefront of operations, a strategic focus capable of enhancing efficiency, fortifying against revenue leaks, and bolster coordination and accountability within the organization.