Fowler’s Future at FIRS Finally Falls Through


It is the conclusion of an incredible year for a whole lot of Nigerians. From the lowest lackey to the biggest boss, there were unanticipated adjustments throughout the year that doubtless rocked the status quo. Some of these changes came at the beginning of the year, and others in the middle. For folks like Babatunde Fowler, the changes have come and brought with them a determinate end.

Before December 9, 2019, Fowler was the uncontested boss of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the commission charged with generating revenue from taxes and keeping working Nigerians on their toes. The Friendly Neighbourhood Taxman has hugged limelight in recent times but never like this, perhaps for the very last time as a tax master. Like numerous instances of the transitions of power, the FIRS mantle has fallen – rather than passed – to another.

Former FIRS boss Fowler is obviously an old hand in the taxation business. Many sources have reported that it was the dexterity with which he handled the Lagos State tax system – transforming it from grey to golden – that landed him the job of FIRS executive chairmanship. In his case, as in many others, the world is witnessing, the gist is that talent and achievement had ridden over qualification and experience.

As a consequence of his assiduous work over the four-year term, the expectation of many supporters and Fowler was that he’d head and lead the next regime. But President Muhammadu Buhari had a bit to append to that aspiration: No.
Allegedly, just a few hours before the end of his tenure, Fowler wrote to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and presented himself for reappointment, to ‘consolidate and build’ on recorded achievements. Surprisingly, the President promptly approved the idea of a new FIRS regime and management, only with a cornerstone exception: the replacement of Fowler with Mohammed M. Nami, a seasoned, professional and experienced tax consultant.

Reports are flying around that the replacement of Fowler is on the heels of tidings that he had failed to meet budget targets in recent years.
Taking the cue, Fowler bowed out gracefully and gratefully, leaving the country to look towards the new FIRS boss with great expectations.