Two Takeaways From Nami’s ATAF Speech, By Muhammad Gulani

Muhammad Nami, a well-trained Tax, Accounting and Management professional with three decades of practical working experience in Auditing and Tax Management was appointed months ago to head Nigeria’s tax collection unit: The Federal Inland Revenue Service.

Mr. Nami’s vast experience brought him onboard working with the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Stolen Assets in November, 2017 as inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Here are Two Takeaways from his speech today where he spoke on the theme: “The Taxation of the Informal Sector in Africa” during the 9th African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Country Correspondents Conference:

1 – That while the Informal sector is driving about 21 to 70 percent of the GDP of African countries and also accounts for between 30 to 90 percent of employment in the region, it is one of the most difficult sectors to tax.

“… the sector remains one of the most difficult sectors to tax, with most of the businesses operating in the sector concealing their activities from the Tax Authorities. Such businesses also operate on a cash basis and maintain poor or no accounting records. Most of the businesses in the sector are also small and fragmented making it inefficient for the revenue administrations to enforce compliance. “

2 – That while it is not politically popular to tax the informal sector, this must be done if Africa is to reduce its budget deficit

“Taxing the informal sector is viewed as politically unpopular and politicians are unwilling to risk losing the high number of votes represented in the sector. This is because politicians usually promise informal workers protection from taxation in exchange for their votes…If Africa is to reduce its budget deficits and increase revenue mobilization, it must widen its tax base and the informal sector provides an opportunity to do so”

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Re: Osinbajo’s Crocodile Tears In Kigali, By Muhammad Gulani

Nigeria is an African power. It’s economy, its politics, its people and the character of these rare diverse heterogeneous society has easily made it the Giant of Africa. So there is no wonder that as a country, we were invited to the 25th National Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide that held in Kigali, Rwanda. Representing Nigeria and its President was Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo – A pastor and an academician with depth of experience in law and governance.

So when the writer of “Osinbajos Crocodile Tears in Kigali” asked “What is the Situation in Osinbajos Nigeria? And answered with the word “pathetic” my first thought was that the writer either did not appreciate who the Vice President was, or did not appreciate Nigeria from a holistic point of view, or both – which is most likely.

It is surprising for one to think of the Nigerian state and the statements of the Vice President as a pun or as Casmir Igbokwe dubbed it in his article as“Crocodile Tears”, we all know that the Vice President has continuously shown that he is a man of Integrity, a man of God and would never disrespect the Nigerian people by playing politics with their lives.

As a country, I do believe that we are not yet where we should be – we are not yet at El-Dorado – but it is undeniable that progress is being made across board. Albeit slow and steady, nonetheless it is progress and that is what is key.

While speaking on the issues surrounding the NDIGBO people, the writer was quick to mislead his readers by pushing the narrative that the present government appointments were mostly Northern deliberately forgetting to take a broader look at appointments shared in the country. The Chief of Naval Staff, the Director General of NIMASA, the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Governor of the Central Bank, the Head of Service among numerous others are all from the Southern parts of the country. Perhaps the writer willfully forgets that the Southern parts of the country is not limited to the South East alone, but also covers the South South and the South West – each clamoring for more representation as much as the other.

The southern parts of Nigeria is also as diverse in tribe and culture as the North.

The single narrative of the “Sidelined Igbos” deployed by the writer cannot stand the test of reality when one fact-checks the many benefits they enjoy in personnel and policies in this government.

Across the country are various construction projects, in every state of the Federation a federal project is ongoing. The President Buhari administration is working overdrive in terms of infrastructure deployment. Of key interest to any observer of the infrastructure being deployed across the country is the famous Second Niger Bridge. It finds itself in the heart of the South East and South South and has been an item clamored for by these people for decades.

The Buhari Administration has committed over N31Billion to the main works of the 2nd Niger Bridge. Work is over 51 percent completed. With little resources, President Buhari’s administration is doing quite a bogus lot for the people of the region.

The writer attempts to suggest tolerance of hate speech by the Buhari administration. Such a pedestal claim does not stand a place in reality. The President has been very categorical on this, and willingly signed the Peace Accord to enthrone sanity in the communications and campaigns during the electioneering periods.

It is so easy to dwell in the negatives of society forgetting the many good the world has to offer. That Nigeria has moved four places up in the Human Development Index and has also moved up in the Ease Of Doing Business Ranking are testaments to a country in upward motion. Nigeria today has attained self sufficient in rice production and has began even exportation. Foreing Direct Investments into the country has reached record levels; insecurity is being tackled ruthlessly and sincerely.

The various Social Investment Programs of this Administration prove that indeed better days for Nigerians are here. The programmes have reached a record 12 Million direct beneficiaries.

Terrorism is being fought day in day out in the areas of the North East and the Buhari administration can beat its chest to say it has recorded tangible achievements here. The banditry in Zamfara is being taken seriously. The full force of Nigeria’s military and other security arms have weighed in and are bombarding these criminals daily. The“Operation Sharan Daji”has been launched specifically to deal with the Zamfara bandits. Progress is being made.

The Vice President has also shown utmost sincerity and has never tried to downplay the killings in these areas. He has visited Benue, Plateau and Kaduna over killings that occurred in the areas – especially communal and inter-tribal clashes. He has advocated for forgiveness and offered pragmatic solutions towards peace building in these societies. He has seen to the facilitation of Peace and Reconciliation Committee in states like Kaduna, and Benue among many others.

It is not in the nature of the Vice President both as an academician and as a man of God to play politics with the life of the people. Security is everyones responsibility and the Vice President has emphasized that time and again.

He rightfully pointed out during his remarks to journalists in Kigali “We must not allow a repeat of what happened in Rwanda.” Statements like that of Casmir Igbokwe tell only a lopsided truth that fuel division, fuel hate and promote tension. These were the harbingers of the nasty events of the Rwandan genocide. Mr. Igbokwe has not learnt his lesson. It appears in fact, that Professor Osinbajo’s sermon was indeed for him.

The problem with the single story is that it shows a thing as a single thing, forgetting that there are two sides to a coin. Nigeria just like any other country is as diverse in its triumphs and problems and it is highly unfair to Igbokwe’s reader and Nigerians to view our complexities from only the negatives.

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is a father and God fearing man, he has shown this time after time, will never play politics with his people.

Muhammad Gulani, is a political commentator and writes from Zaria, Kaduna

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