In Western climes, the old are gathered together inside accommodations referred to as retirement homes. There is a similar pattern with retired political figures or public servants in Nigeria—except that the locations of such ‘retirement homes’ remain a mystery until they choose to emerge.
It looks as if Babatunde Fowler, the former Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), is settling into his retirement home, the anonymous cocoon that past Nigerian public figures flit into whenever they are replaced, exposed, or vacationing.
For Fowler, the first motivation (replacement) is valid. Considering that there hasn’t been any news of his comeback to some other high-ranking office (as is the custom), it would seem that Fowler is truly settling into inconspicuousness.
2020 recorded so few noteworthy mentions of Fowler. The only time the accomplished taxman was particularly featured on headlines was when he was invited for close-quarters questioning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). This was likely the first time since Fowler endured the anti-graft agency’s interrogations since he left the apex FIRS seat.
According to reports, even that meeting had little to do with his time as FIRS boss. On the other hand, EFCC officials were allegedly more interested in his time as CEO/Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue (between 2005 and 2014). There was supposedly a 5 billion inquiry that Fowler was privy to, and therefore significantly assisted the EFCC in clearing the air. And then back to his invisible spaceship Fowler went.
Some folks maintain that it was nobody’s fault but Fowler’s own that he had to leave his position for his successor, Mohammed Nami—after all, it was he who somehow fell short of his superiors’ expectations. Nevertheless, it is commendable that he isn’t out causing trouble. A lesser man would defame those he perceives as adversarial every opportunity he gets.
But Babatunde Fowler is no mean man and no noisemaker.