Change is Often Resisted, Says Fowler as He Departs FIRS

Change is Often Resisted, Says Fowler as He Departs FIRS

Change is Often Resisted, Says Fowler as He Departs FIRS

Babatunde Fowler, who was on Monday sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), said he had done his best for the FIRS and country, but noted that “But with change, sometimes there is resistance. People will not understand the vision, will not understand the reason for the change”.

Fowler could not get a second term in office after his four-year term ended on Sunday.  Insider sources said Buhari ditched Fowler because Fowler was wasteful and arrogant.

ALSO READ: FIRS Nigeria: ‘Tunde Fowler was Wasteful and Arrogant’

“Babatunde Fowler is wasteful and arrogant. And he did not perform the way he was expected to perform” an insider source said.

Our source also said that Fowler showed high-ranked desperation to get reappointed.

“He fought desperately up to the last minute to get reappointment. But his fate had already been decided before August when he was supposed to hand over. To avoid any legal issues, the President allowed him to occupy the office till the date the Senate confirmed him.

“To pull wool over people’s eyes, he kept dishing out propaganda on what he claimed to have achieved. But those propaganda showed more of how desperate he was to remain in that position.

This source expressed optimism that Alhaji Muhammad Nami, who has been appointed to replace Fowler will do a good job.

“Muhammad Nami comes highly recommended. And he is coming with a board. Fowler did not have a board he worked with. The expectation is that Nami will do a better job than Fowler.

Another source told our reporter that President Buhari resented wasteful life style and added that Fowler was too full of himself as the FIRS helmsman.

But handing over to a senior director in FIRS, Abiodun Aina, Fowler said he hoped in leaving FIRS, he had left behind something, positive, that each and every one of you can build on.

He spoke at about 6:35 p.m. as he handed over to the Coordinating Director Domestic Taxes Group, Aina,

Mr Fowler in a handover over ceremony at the Boardroom of the FIRS said: “Let me thank all of you who are here for what we have been able to do for our country. From the driver to the senior staff, everybody played a role. But with change, sometimes there is resistance. People will not understand the vision, will not understand the reason for the
change. But hope in leaving FIRS, I’ve left behind something, something, positive, that each and every one of you can build on.

“We have got a mandate. That mandate is not just to collect revenue. It’s a mandate to collect the maximum amount of revenue for all concerned for the benefit of all Nigerians.

“There is nothing automatic about having a second term. Some of you might say it’s a big surprise. It a privileged to serve one’s country. And if you have the privilege of serving your country for one term and you believe you have done your best, you have to thank God
for that.

“For those of you we are leaving behind, Ï do not want to get too scriptural. But I believe that anything that you do, that helps your fellow human being, your neighbour is a blessing. And I believe that this job that we have been given is a job that will continue to help all Nigerians and all people residing in Nigeria.

“We have the opportunity to show the world that Nigeria has a lot to offer. It was during this period that we had a top Director, representing Nigeria and the world at the OECD. It was within this period that Nigeria, for the first time chaired ATAF (African Tax
Administration Forum), for two years running. It was within this period that Nigeria through your support, was appointed as the 1st Vice Chairman of the United Nations Committee of Tax Experts. So we have a lot going for us.

“I like you to keep the flag flying, But I hope that sometime, when I visit, my picture will be somewhere on the wall.

“One thing, for people who have known me for a while, is that some of them refer to me as a shark. I like to keep people on their toes. Some of you might have thought that I don’t appreciate your contribution. But some of you… might have been able to do things better. And part of my role is to bring out that potential in you. And I hope I have been able to do that. I am content.

“I like to thank the President for giving me this opportunity of service. It’s a privilege of service to your country. But at the same time, I believe I leave behind a good crop of directors that can move this organisation forward.

“I will say that for the incoming Chairman, for the incoming Board of Directors, give them the support. The vision, I believe, is the same vision that we have. But how to go about it may differ. Open yourselves up to change. At this point, it gives me extreme privilege,
to hand over the running of this organisation until the Senate approves the new Board, to someone who has been here, to someone who understands the working of the FIRS, to someone who has been part of the change. And I believe that you will give him the support, not even the support you have given me. But more support. So that when he
hands over the organisation to the new board, they will see that this organisation is one that shares the same vision, and of course believes in his mandate. With these few words, I like to say it’s a pleasure working with all of you.

“Some of you might have thought that don’t like you. But I assure you it was work. But I believe in this room, we have got a lot of talent regardless of what happens, keep the flag flying.

“On this note, Mr Aina, I have the privilege of handing over FIRS to you. God bless FIRS. Long live the Republic of Nigeria.”

The Acting Executive Chairman, FIRS, Abiodun Aina, spoke in glowing terms about Mr Fowler.

Mr Aina said: “Thank you very much Mr, Chairman, my boss, my brother, and my good friend Sir. As you hand over to me I say what I’m I running. YO have fought a good fight. You laid a very u solid foundation…

“Within the intervening period that I will be holding forte, I promise you to steady the ship, by the grace of God. You have done a lot within the space of four years. You have transformed FIRS. You have modernised it. There has been a lot of innovations. And under you we have achieved great heights. When we look back in 2015, collection was about N3.3 trillion. At the end of 2018, with your leadership, we were able to move to N5.32 Trillion. That was the highest collection ever, in the annals FIRS. You brought dynamism to FIRS.

“You introduced so many programmes that repositioned FIRS: Tax Amnesty Programme, implemented VAIDS, increased the no of taxpayers nationwide to over 20 million in a spate of four years, began placing lien on the account of taxpayers to ensure that each capable corporate taxpayers pay his/her dues, fostered collaboration amongst the states through the Joint Tax Board, began robust information sharing amongst states, launched the JTB TIN so that states might have access to data for tax purposes, deepened FIRS’ embrace of technology for tax purposes and many more.

“But like you also mentioned in your speech, change is usually resisted. And so you stepped on toes. That is normal. Leadership is not a popularity contest. And I’m sure you know that very well. And that was why you were focused on carrying out the mandate that was given to you. I can tell you on behalf of my colleagues here that we will miss you. You have left a very big shoe behind. We will do all we can to ensure that we will keep the flag flying.

“Thank you very much for what you have done for us.

As Mr Aina ended his brief remarks, directors and heads of department in attendance, held hands and sang ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow, chorus” for the outgoing executive chairman. Many pumped hands and thanked Mr Fowler for his contribution to the service.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday appointed Nami to replace Fowler as chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). Fowler’s tenure expired on Sunday.

According to Garba Shehu President Buhari’s Spokesman, the president nominated a renowned tax consultant, Muhammad M. Nami as the new chairman.

The statement by the Presidency said Fowler is expected to hand over to the most senior director on the board, who will take charge, pending the senate confirmation of the new board.

Muhammad M. Nami’s nomination was conveyed in a letter Buhari sent to the Senate, on the composition of a new board for the revenue agency.

The board is composed of a member representing each of the six geographical zones and statutory representatives from a select number of ministries and government agencies.

Mr Muhammad Nami, according to the statement by Aso Rock, is “a well-trained Tax, Accounting and Management professional with highly rated qualifications and professional practice and licenses from relevant professional bodies”.

 He has almost three decades of practical working experience in Auditing, Tax Management and Advisory and Management services to clients in the banking, manufacturing, services and public sectors as well as non- profit organisations.

Nami attended Bayero University Kano and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology (1991) and a Masters of Business degree (2004) respectively.

He is a fellow of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Institute of Debt Recovery Practitioners of Nigeria and Associate Member of Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered) and Association of National Accountants of Nigeria.

He started his career with PFK in 1993 and rose to the position of a senior Consultant in charge of Tax management and advisory services.

He is currently the managing consultant of Manam Professional Services (Chartered Tax Practitioners and Business Advisers) based in Kaduna, Abuja, Niger State. Mr Muhammad has served, and is still serving, on many companies’ Board and Statutory Board Audit Committees.

He was appointed as a member, Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Stolen Assets in November, 2017 by President Buhari. He is married and has children.

Editorial Chief, Nigerian Bureau

Kings UBA is a Nigerian journalist and writer. I have reported for major local and international news organisations. I write satire. In 2017, I started contributing stories primarily to Discover Africa News Network. I can be reached on I currently manage Discover Africa News social media handles