Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku-led administration in Taraba State has taken bold steps towards increasing its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and reducing over dependence on the monthly allocation from the Federation Accounts. In the past one year, this drive for increased revenue has been pursued with vigour by the State Revenue Board under its Executive Chairman/Permanent Secretary, Mallam Adamu Sani. In an interview with AHMED WAKILI, the resourceful Board Chairman says the unprecedented fall in global oil prices has forced the State Government to look inward for better governance. Excerpts…
One of the challenges faced by Governor Darius Ishaku on assumption of office was ensuring peaceful atmosphere in the State and improving the revenue base to execute his Rescue Mission Agenda. As the Executive Chairman and Permanent Secretary in-charge of the State’s Board of Internal Revenue, what steps have you taken to meet these expectations?
Well, as a Board, we have a responsibility to compliment the Governor’s efforts at improving the State revenue base and it is a statutory responsibility bestowed on us. As officials of the Board, we sat down and look at ways to employ certain measures that will enable us come up with fresh ideas. As the Board’s Management Team, we decided to adopt certain steps to ensure there is tremendous improvement in the IGR to help our Executive Governor in his dream of putting smiles on the faces of Tarabans by providing physical development and social services. With the steps taken by the Board under my leadership, the support and cooperation of my management team and the entire staff in the last one and a half years, that I have been the Chairman and Permanent Secretary; tax auditing and investigations have revealed to us that there are areas and institutions that were under-remitting their taxes. For instance, we were able to investigate most of the higher institutions of learning in the State such as the Federal University, Wukari, the Taraba State University, The Federal Polytechnic Bali, College of Education Zing, College of Agriculture Jalingo and the Taraba State Polytechnic Jalingo/Suntai. In fact, the Board of Internal Revenue was able to realize recently that there were leakages as regards revenue remittances to the State over the years and we took bold steps to block the leakages. Similarly, the profit of training and re-training our staff which was neglected over the years was also realized. Their ideas, knowledge and methods were refreshed and that to great extent improved their efficiency and productivity which resulted into our recording huge success. Put together, the general cooperation was from the entire staff based on the activities of leadership that motivated them and has greatly helped to enhance good working relationship within the Board. By so doing, we worked tirelessly to see that all what we can do is to compliment the efforts of Governor Ishaku, who has provided all that is needed to improve the revenue base of the State and he has allowed us to carry out our activities without any interference. This development has made us to perform and realized what we have achieved so far in the last one and a half years.
How does the Board intend to further improve the IGR of the state?
Well, it is quite true that most states in the country are depending largely on what comes from the Federation Accounts Allocation on monthly basis and our State is among them. There is no gain saying that some States have the resources to generate half or more of what they are getting monthly from the Federation Accounts, such like Lagos, Kano, Port-Harcourt and Delta. But then, we are not saying that we are not doing our best. The management and staff met, sat down, think and decided to advise the Governor on how to exploit other avenues of revenue generation. Recently, the Board leadership urged the governor to pay attention to mining activities going on at the Mambilla Plateau, though the State has no right over these activities because it is the statutory responsibility of the Federal Government. We advised the Governor to buy over the rights from the Federal Government and he quickly agreed with our suggestion and directed that funds should be released to us to enable us go ahead with the deal. We are quite convinced that by the time we have that rights, there will be great improvement in our IGR. Also, about logging currently on-going in the State, we sought the governor’s approval for the Board to collect the actual money in respect of logging. We also urged His Excellency to deploy political will on various departments that have not done well in the area of revenue generation.
Since the creation of Taraba State 25 years ago, the Revenue Board has never generated above N400 million in a year, but as the Board Chairman in the last one year, you brought in over N4 billion to the State coffers. What is the secret?
As I told you earlier, the secret is due to our robust investigations, blocking of revenue leakages, the support, cooperation and understanding among the management team and the entire staff. Above all, is the political will exhibited by His Excellency, Governor Ishaku as well as other government’s organs. There was a time the State House of Assembly declared a State of Emergency as regards IGR and also pressure from some top political stakeholders that necessitated our activities. So, with motivation, new initiatives by the staff, we were able to turned things around. In the process, we were able to generate over N4 billion in the last one year; something that has never happened in the history of the State since its creation 24 years ago. I quite appreciate the fact that our workers are professionals in their own rights. If you create the enabling environment by motivating them and giving them reasons to do their work, they would certainly live up to your expectations and that was one of the strategies I adopted that made us record this success. Also, the Governor’s leadership that always reminds us of our statutory responsibilities did encourage us to work very hard. Commendation also goes to the State House of Assembly the members for taking special interest to declare a State of Emergency in the area of IGR and MDS approach which the State keyed into and the result was the over four billion Naira revenue profile. I must tell you that the N4 billion realized is about 91 per cent of our budget target. So, about 91 per cent is an excellent performance and I think we have a lot to celebrate.
How would advise Tax Payers or those expected to make remittances as at when due and What should the people expect in return for paying their taxes promptly?
It is important for every adult to pay his or her tax as a civic responsibility. Every civil servant is expected to pay his or her tax promptly; every businessman or woman is expected to pay his or her tax according to his or her realized income. We have various taxes and every citizen is expected to comply so that government can serve them better in terms of providing social services and infrastructural development projects. If the people pay their taxes as expected, the government will also reciprocate by providing things like good roads, portable water, healthcare services, power supply, decent environment for schools, transport, housing and agricultural inputs among others. In the last one year, we have seen what the Governor Ishaku’s administration has achieved and this has put smiles on the faces of majority of Tarabans. We can readily point to areas like power and water supply, road constructions, the commissioning of Jalingo Airport, Mambilla Highland Tea is back to life, production of large quantity of Highland Tea among other things which the governor has been able to provide just in one year of his administration.