Dr. Muritala Awodun, the Executive Chairman, Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KW-IRS) on 23 February 2016 led his team to Baruten Local Government Area, Kosubosu where the local government sensitization programme was kick started. The team was received by the Chairman, Baruten LGA, Alhaji Omar Mohammed Bio the Emir of Ilesha Baruba, HRH Prof. Halidu .I. Abubarka, Emir of Gwanara Kotokok, HRH (Dr) Alhaji Sabi Idris, the Emir of Okuta, HRH Alhaji Abubarka Idris, and the Emir of Yashikira, HRH Alhaji Umar Seriki.
The Chairman, Baruten LGA welcomed the KW-IRS Chairman and his team to Baruten, the Land of Hope, Peace, Harmony and Prosperity. He stated that the visit by KW-IRS will go a long way to educate his people who often approach him for one clarification about the duties of KW-IRS. He buttressed his point by saying that the Saw Millers Association and the Petroleum Association just left his office to know if the issue of double taxation will be eradicated under the operations of KW-IRS.
Alhaji Omar Bio further pledge his support for KW-IRS saying: ‘I endorse KW-IRS and pray for the success of the Service as change is the only constant thing in life and it has come with the establishment of the KW-IRS’. He upholds the decision of the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji (Dr) Abdulfatah Ahmed on the establishment of KW-IRS saying Revenue Collection is the hope for Kwara. He said a lesson needs to be taken from Lagos State who generates N122 billion monthly and does not need to wait for the Federal Government Allocation before paying his staff salary.
He admonished his people especially the local government staff to cooperate with KW-IRS. He assured them that their job will not be taken away from them due to the harmonization of revenue collection. Rather, it will make the job of the local government staff easier and more productive. Alhaji Omar Bio also assured the Executive Chairman, KW-IRS of the support of the people of Baruten LGA on the demands of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service.
In his response, Dr. Muritala Awodun was thankful to the Chairman Baruten LGA, and all the Emirs for accepting him and his team. He was full of appreciation for the opportunity given to him to speak to the people of Baruten. The Executive Chairman, KW-IRS spoke of the June 22 2015 law that established the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KW-IRS) and the defunct the Kwara Board of Internal Revenue (KBIR) which was as a result of inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the revenue mobilization task given to it despite the State Government giving the required support needed to succeed.
Dr. Awodun itemized the mandates given to the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KW-IRS) which is to harmonize revenue collection in the state in other to control multiple taxation, ensure revenue collected gets to the coffers of the government by blocking all leakages, help the and advice the government on the need of the people through feedback. He stated that all the listed mandates brought about the mission statement of KW-IRS which is to mobilize revenue for the strategic development of Kwara State.
The Executive Chairman, KW-IRS enumerated on the techniques to be used by the Service to realize the task ahead which are: collection of revenue with the TSA, the use of technology for revenue collection, simple and convenient medium for revenue payment, constant sensitization of the people, and giving back to the people through the Community Impact Programme which is sectioned into Education, Employment, Environment, Empowerment and Enterprise.
HRH Prof Halidu I. Abubarka, the Emir of Ilesha Baruba welcomed the Chairman, KW-IRS and his team. He talked about the importance of the Principle of Reciprocity and appreciated the fact that addressing the needs of Kwarans was factored into the operations of KW-IRS through its Community Impact Programme. He highlighted that Dr. Awodun is building a system and not just an administration. He advised that Dr Awodun also focus on sustaining the process even after the completion of his tenure. He also advised the Executive Chairman, KW-IRS to make available some documents such as the law that established KW-IRS, the list of taxes to be collected by the Service and the punishment attached so the leaders can read it, understand it and use it to educate and guide their people.
The Emir of Gwanara, HRH Alhaji. (Dr) Abubarka Sabi Idris who worked as a Permanent Secretary for many years under the Kwara State Ministry of Finance spoke of how sad he was years back when the Federal Government deviated from taxation and focused on oil. He spoke of how excited his people were when he informed them of the return of taxation in Nigeria. He therefore appealed to Kwarans to roll away their apprehensions and not misquote their Royal Fathers but that it is compulsory and necessary that tax is paid by all. He affirms that even the Holy Quran supports payment of tax. He stated that Kwara State is one of the progressive states in Nigeria. He established that countries abroad are developed because the people pay tax. He further talked about the importance of tax equity. He also enquired on how Personal Income Tax accommodates variations in income. He added that assessment should be well done so as not to over-charge the people.
The Emir of Okuta, HRH Alhaji Abubarka Idris talked about the importance of competence and discipline. He therefore advised the KW-IRS team to ensure that staff are well trained and tutored to be disciplined in all their dealings with the people. He said the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KW-IRS) should ensure that it doesn’t fail the people of Kwara State by promising and failing like the politicians.
HRH Alhaji Umar Seriki, the Emir of Yashikira advised Dr. Awodun on the importance of building a strong foundation. He added that management may result in failure if foundation is not well laid. The Emir proposed for another meeting to be organized by the KW-IRS where the Revenue Collectors and the Tax Payers will be seated together to have a full discussion. He applauded the decision of the Governor for establishing KW-IRS saying that we are now faced with reality as the oil is not favourable at the moment.
The Emir said some taxes need to be brought back such as the Tenement Rate and the Cattle rearing Tax (Jangali). He explained that KW-IRS should address the situation whereby the farmer will be taxed on his proceeds at the market and the cattle-rearers will not be charged. He enumerated on the importance of working with the Royal Fathers because they know their people, their challenges and know how to talk to them. He said what we call tax leakages is not leakages, he said it is stealing and should be stopped.
The Director General Services and Administration (DGSA), Baruten Local Government, Alhaji Suleiman said the job of feedback and advising the Government is the most difficult part of the assignment of KW-IRS. He therefore advised Dr. Awodun that the Service would have to assure the people of Kwara State that the Government would have to be accountable and that the cost of implementation of services should be checked. The DGSA also advised the KW-IRS team to start to think on other revenue generation areas because the general change in climate will certainly affect production in agriculture. He further advised that Petroleum Refinery Tax be critically looked into.
The Representative of the DPO, Ilesha Baruba, ASP Ita Udoh assured KW-IRS of the full support of the police so long its operations are within the ambience of the law. He said the duty of the police is to ensure laws and orders are maintained.
The Executive Chairman, KW-IRS appreciated all raised observations and suggestions, he said the Service will effect them as appropriate. Dr. Awodun as part of his response to questions raised informed the Royal Fathers and others present that His Excellency, Alhaji (DR) Abdulfatah Ahmed also commissioned the four (4) Revenue Courts the same day the Revenue house was commissioned, 8 February 2016.