Why they don’t like FIRS’ reform

By Edward Akpoborie

The recent retirement exercise legally and duly carried out by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) anchored on a protracted issue of career progression of very hard working staff of FIRS has been generating unnecessary noise by some ill-informed elements among the citizenry. As a matter of fact, Mr. Muhammad Nami, the Executive Chairman of FIRS has become a target of tirades by some hungry mercenaries in a section of media, trying to confuse the populace with deceit and lies, all for two basic reasons.

One, nine persons who have served between eight to ten years as directors and sat like immovable mountains were duly retired according to law and civil service rules in order to pave way for several other qualified senior staff that have been stagnated and waiting in the wings for years to progress up the ladder. Two, FIRS under the leadership of Mr. Nami implemented the decision of the board!

So instead of some disgruntled elements, both within and outside of the Service, to respectfully accept with the thorough application of due process of law and rules by the board and FIRS, decided to start a media insurgency. Suddenly, poisonous reports began to surface in a section of the media, obviously sponsored by some disgruntled individuals affected by the exercise. Of course, the bent of the narrative was completely bohemian; it was tilted and labeled as ethnic and religious cleansing. If not, why should they be retired? And why should the FIRS boss, Nami, implement the decision of the board?

Why should the innocent FIRS boss be blamed for a clearly transparent far-reaching decision? What is the ethnic or religious connotation in the retirement process as well as the current bold transformative reform being executed at FIRS by Nami that foremost players in Nigeria’s public finance sector have resoundingly applauded?

Certainly, there is an impish agenda here. Is it not apparent that the real target of the delirious attack by the mercenary critics and their backers is President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration and not Mr. Nami? The enemy is trying to shoot down the unwavering determination of Mr. President to ensure that in the face of the dwindled oil revenue owing to COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the global economy, Nigerian economy does not go down.

The media attack against Nami is indeed just a smokescreen. The real sinister plot is that Buhari’s legacy and soaring international image are hacked down, his economic blueprint strategy and creative method of generating alternative revenue through the FIRS under the leadership of Nami and the result-oriented reform he (Nami) has introduced are distracted and frustrated. That is why the wild and fictitious accusation against Nami follows the same apocryphal pattern against the Buhari administration – ‘ethnic and religious agenda’.

Indeed, it is a study in contiguous conspiracy theory that exposes an ominously larger eerie plot. Yet, that is not my immediate concern in the baseless and distractively riotous noise against Nami. The nucleus of my concern on this issue is, why should enlightened Nigerians pay attention to jobless rabble rousers who deploy primordial sentiments and try to foist on enlightened populace the bleak belief that our system of governance and leadership model is based on ethnicity, religion and region?

So what exactly is the sin of Nami? Why are they incensed against him? That he merely implemented a decision of a legally constituted board relevant to the progress of FIRS? Or that he has brought innovation and transformative reform in the operational system at the FIRS? Or that he is more than determined to diligently and meticulously sustain the implementation of the fiscal policies of the Buhari administration to the letter profitably? Or that he has surpassed the records of his predecessors in terms of revenue generation within a short period of time he assumed office?

The Executive Chairman had plainly explained that, “If any FIRS worker had been a victim of tribalism or religious discrimination in the past, I say to such marginalized worker: Not anymore and not on my watch at the FIRS… The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) wishes to clarify that the recent staff retirement exercise which affected nine directors was done in full compliance with the law and in the best interest of the Service and the country, contrary to insinuations in a section of the media.
“The Board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in a meeting held on Friday, March 20, 2020, took the decision and approved that all directors who had served in the FIRS for eight years and above should be retired. The FIRS Board took that decision in line with Paragraph 10.1(a)(iii) of Human Resources Policy and Programmes (HRPP)” of the FIRS after considering a number of career progression complaints by some staff in the Service.

“Worthy of note is that FIRS Establishment Act, 2007, Section 7 empowers the FIRS Board to take certain far-reaching decisions in the interest of the Service and by extension, the country. Specifically, Section 7 (d) states that the Board shall… “employ and determine the terms and conditions of service including disciplinary measures of the employees of the Service”.
Section 7(J) states that the Board shall “do such other things which in its opinion are necessary to ensure the efficient/performance of the functions of the Service under this Act”, he stated in a most satisfactory manner, except in the warped minds of mischief makers.

There is one more lapse in the narrative which exposes the mischief of the armchair critics and which the media has the burden to act fast to correct. Note that there is a deliberate and criminal omission in the smear campaign against the FIRS boss. None of the cloudy reports admitted that the Nami-led FIRS displayed a most outstanding magnanimity in that it reappointed five of those nine retired directors in its interim management team. It is verifiable that FIRS directors and top management staff are made up of people from different geopolitical zones of the country. Can you now see the diabolism and madness of this reckless allegation against a detribalized and kind man, Mr. Nami?
The entire allegation against the FIRS boss, Muhammadu Nami, can be summed up in a simple term: it is hinged on envy, jealousy, campaign of calumny and cheer wickedness. As a country, we should learn to support people like Mr. Nami who are providing the right purposeful leadership in governance structure and not the other way round.

For Mr. Nami, he should not be distracted by groundless bear parlour gibberish such as this. Let him remain focused on his job and yield to the advice of Zig Ziglar, America’s famous author: “Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.” Similarly, Plato equally offers this wise, crispy counsel: “When men speak ill of thee, live so as nobody may believe them.”

Akpoborie is a financial analyst based in Lagos

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