Monday, June 1, 2020
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The Burden of Leadership at FIRS

 By Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad

If one has not occupied a position of leadership, one would not fully understand the truism of William Shakespeare’s wise words:  “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. But those who wear the crown know where it hurts.

So it is with the leadership of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) at this inauspicious time. 

Three factors make the leadership of FIRS quite challenging, even if burdensome, at this time. These are the onerous task of repositioning the Service and raising staff morale, meeting the revenue target amid a global economic lockdown, and having to deal with Janus-faced human nature.

These factors combined to make the leadership of FIRS seems more like skating on thin ice, which is really a daunting task.

The task of repositioning the Service means setting it on the track of global best practices in terms of corporate governance and efficient service delivery. This consists of shuffling the staff and putting the right people in the right positions,  building staff capacity,  creating more vacancies and more offices, deploying cutting-edge technology to drive the processes,  and ultimately reestablishing the Service again as a veritable corporate entity to reckon with among its peers in the World. 

Daunting as this task may seem, it also requires quantum speed to achieve it. Towards achieving the repositioning goal, the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr. Mohammed Nami, put together a three-month framework of action as he assumed office in December, 2019.

 This initial three-month project, tagged Short-Term Goals, is one of the three broad strategies outlined to achieve total retooling of the Service towards increased tax revenue generation. Others are the  Medium Term and the Long Term Goals. The  Short Term Goals consists of eleven action points, which are: to hold a strategic corporate retreat to set target and unveil the corporate organogram of the Service; to put in place immediate mechanism to make activities of the Service technology driven; to make TCC processing easy henceforth ; to immediately re-position LTOs & MTOs; to henceforth make staff welfare and promotion a top priority; to re-position Audit & investigation units in order to achieve efficient performance; stop indiscriminate placement of lien on clients’ accounts; to take disciplinary action henceforth against staff who wittingly pocket tax revenue; to re-engineer  business processes; to continue the payment of 13-16 months salaries as bonuses in order to motivate staff and achieve greater tax revenue collection; and to strictly enforce dress code as provided  in the FIRS HRPP. 

At the unveiling of these short-term goals members of staff at the FIRS applauded them as the long overdue changes they have all been looking forward to with bated breath. They enthusiastically acknowledged that the goals were spot on and the required quick fixes desperately needed to  reposition the Service for efficient and effective administration and optimal tax revenue collection. 

Since the unveiling of the goals the management team at the FIRS ably led by  Mr. Muhammad Nami, has applied itself to implementing them diligently every step of the way. In January, the transition management provided a month long window for quick and unfettered processing of TCCs for taxpayers to enable them compete for relevant jobs. This led to the processing and issuance of thousands of TCCs which hitherto was difficult. This was immediately followed with the lifting of lien on clients’ bank account with genuine cases.

Thereafter a corporate retreat was held with resounding success. At the retreat were most of the former chairmen of the Service, and an array of stakeholders who applauded the ECFIRS for daring to hold the retreat seven years after the last one was held. A circular was issued to staff emphasizing the need to comply with the HRPP provision on corporate dressing and the penalty that goes with its violation. 

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