The tenure of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Chairperson, Mrs Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, ended last week. And because of the diligent manner in which she discharged her responsibility, there have been suggestions in the media that she ought to enjoy what would have amounted to a third term. I wonder why that should be when even former President Olusegun Obasanjo, according to some moonlight tales, “never sought” such extra-constitutional mandate! But I am aware there has been some confusion as to when the tenure of the former FIRS Chairperson actually began and when it should end.
The fact of the matter is that she was first appointed on May 3, 2004 by President Obasanjo for a three-year term period at a time there was no limitation of tenure. In the intervening period, FIRS Establishment Act 2007 (which introduced a renewable term of four years each) was signed into law on April 16, 2007. Upon assuming office a month later, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua reaffirmed Omoigui-Okauru’s appointment by sending her name to Senate for confirmation. For some curious (but not altruistic) reasons, It took ten months and Yar’Adua’s persistence for the appointment to be confirmed on April 10, 2008.
Now, there is a school of thought which argues that since the FIRS Act 2007 provides for two terms of four years each, Omoigui-Okauru had only done one term under the Act and as such eligible for another term. But what some people fail to understand is that the transition provisions of the Act have already transferred her services to the new FIRS as Executive Chairman. While the second term should ordinarily start at the expiration of the first three years, which then implies that it should end on May 2, 2011, what has prevailed in this instance is her letter of appointment which specifically states that her second and final term ends on April 9, 2012 based on the date she was confirmed by the Senate.
But as I stated a few weeks back, Omoigui-Okauru is one of the critical change agents in our country. Under her stewardship, the nation’s tax revenue grew exponentially, especially in the non-oil sector. For instance, when she took over in 2004, non oil taxes fetched N316.2 billion, but a year later in 2005, it had increased to N389.2 billion. By 2006, it had jumped to N513.7 Billion; in 2007, it was N716.3 billion and in 2008, N911.3 billion. By 2009, she was raking in N1.147 trillion; a year later, it was N1.359 trillion and by 2011, it was N1.558 trillion. What the figures reveal is that she was growing the non oil tax revenue by an average of N200 billion every year. As she therefore bows out of FIRS, Mrs Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru has handed down a legacy of hard work, professionalism, integrity and purpose that is not only commendable but indeed worthy of emulation.
Member Feese, the young lady who last year survived the United Nations building bombing in Abuja, arrived Nigeria at the weekend for a thanksgiving service tomorrow where her friends are also launching an advocacy group. Aside being a symbol of defiance to the negative forces intent on holding our nation back from peace and prosperity, Member has also become a source of inspiration for people around her. When she was recently reported to have fallen down, her worried mother, Nguyan, sought to know what happened to which Member replied: “I fell down and I got up. When people fall, they get up, don’t they?” â€¨Despite all that the young lady has gone through in the last couple of months, it is such courage and philosophical calmness that are driving her friends to initiate ‘Team Member’ whose objective and strategy are captured below: “Team Member was born hours after the news of the bomb explosion at the UN building on the 26th of August, 2011. Initially the group provided information and mobilised the needed support for care and treatment in order to save Member's life. The group has transformed into an advocacy group. Main objective: To hold public and private providers accountable for effective and efficient service delivery in Nigeria. Strategy: To use the power of numbers to provide voice and accountability on a single issue at a time using social networking and other media. Issue: The restoration of the National Hospital to its original purpose. Join us and spread the word. Sign up for change.” Website:www.iamteammember.org. Twitter: @iamteammember. Facebook: www.facebook.com/iamteammember.