In the mind of Babatunde Fowler, the decorated civil servant and current chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, the parable of the talents is prominent, staying uppermost in his thoughts like the iced sugar on a birthday cake. The master who bequeathed him some talents in expectation of commensurate returns has asked him to give an account of his stewardship.
For Fowler, the end of the month brings closer the day of destiny when he finds out for sure if his performance merits another term at the helm of the FIRS.
When he was handed the job as head of the nation’s premier tax collection agency from his prior post at the Lagos Inland Revenue Service, the FG handed Fowler an implicit mandate of higher tax remits throughout his tenure.
Initial signs were promising and he was immune from the dreaded presidential thumbs down that has been handed to several non-performing agency bosses during the past four years.
The FIRS even went to town with reports of how it collected the highest-ever yearly tax returns in the nation’s history — 5.3 trillion — in 2018. It all seems like a long time ago now
Fowler was recently queried over the gap between the amount anticipated as tax revenue and actual collections, which was seen as substantial.
The close ally of APC chieftain Bola Tinubu, has since responded to the circular from the president’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, with detailed figures showing the shortfall was due to the recent recession that befell the country. ‘It was not my fault,’ he said. Well, it was not his fault. He did not caused recession. In actual fact, Fowler has shown creativity, imagination and ingenuity, with the current numbers a testament to his nous and resourcefulness against the odds, even if the mode of achieving these numbers may be deemed Draconian.
It is a waiting game now for the dude who is hoping to prolong his tenure atop the FIRS. His four-year term runs out this month but he must be optimistic of retaining his seat, especially if his term is judged as a whole.
He will look the way of some recent ministers who were reappointed by the President despite performances that fell short of expectations and believe he merits another shot. Take a bow, Rotimi Amaechi, Abubakar Malami, Adamu Adamu…
Will Fowler take a bow and continue?