Plot to deny Fowler second term thickens as first tenure lapses

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Fowler, FIRS

Some vested and powerful interests within and outside the presidency are currently working round the clock to eclipse the second tenure of the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue, Tunde Fowler FOMBINATIMES can reveal.

Investigation revealed that numerous plots have been hatchet in the past by forces inimical to the chief revenue officer who is a close ally of the All Progressive Congress (APC) party stalwart, Bola Tinubu, to ease him out right from the day he assumed office in 2015.

But those opposed to his second term ambition are however not giving up on their mission to sack him or at worst rob him a second term and have already started shopping for a replacement.

To achieve their target they have unearthed one alleged atrocious act after the other to leave President Buhari with no option than to replace Fowler and appoint another qualified Nigerian to head the FIRS.

FIRS boss’s appointment was confirmed by the Senate in December 2015 and his tenure is expected to expire this week going by the date he was appointed; although some people have suggested it would expire in December, the month his appointment was confirmed.

According to The Sun newspaper, some of the allegations leveled against Fowler include; sedimented corruption via inflated contracts and supervising the abuse of duty tour allowances by staff; money-for-employment scandal, flooding the agency with parasitic consultants thus making many staff redundant; parading questionable certificates which shows he may have been scammed by foreign institutions; discrepancies in revenue generation and remittances.

Other allegations against the FIRS boss include; extravagant weekly spending on concerts and parties in Lagos, Port Harcourt and other major cities within and outside Nigeria, frivolous donations to organisations while staff entitlements for official engagements took a long time to settle.

There was also an allegation of suspension of tax audit and case investigation functions in various field offices since January 2016 and the engagement of friends as FIRS consultants to carry out core tax functions of audit, investigations, taxpayers’ registrations and other ancillaries of the service. There is also the indiscriminate transfer of senior officers to non-existent offices and/or non-functional training schools nationwide.

His enemies are standing on the aforesaid factors to urge the authorities to take him out and allow for a comprehensive audit of his stewardship and possibly fumigate the system.

Some staff who craved anonymity to avoid a scalding witch-hunt alleged that Fowler has contaminated all operations of the FIRS.

They said: “If he is not eased out of the system, it will fail very soon. For example, we have a fund for maintenance and repair of tax controllers’ operational vehicles. When he came, he abolished it and collapsed it into a pool and outsourced the money to a mechanic company he brought from Lagos. A repair of N20,000 will take three months for them to do, so we have most vehicles grounded”.

Signs that the chief revenue collection officer may be in trouble started manifesting when the influencial chief of staff to president Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari issued a query to Fowler demanding to know the rationale for discrepancies between budgeted and actual revenue accruals to the country.

Kyari who gave Fowler less than three days to respond to the query also asked him to explain why revenue generation kept dwindling compared to what obtained in previous years.

Industry analysts have pointed to the fact that the way and manner the query, a sensitive and classified document was leaked shows that some powerful forces wanted Fowler to lose public sympathy so that he could be denied the second tenure without much qualms.

The presidency in a subtle way to downplay the disquiet generated in the wake of Fowler’s response to the query said the memo was not a query but a routine enquiry to find out the true situation in the all important agency.

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