By; Dr. THOMPSON UDENWA
I have been reading an article based on a recycled newspaper report that was maliciously put together by PUNCH Newspaper in October 2021, which questions the 2022 budget of the FIRS. It has been shared to my Whatsapp at least twice in the last two weeks. The author, an invincible Godwin Etakibuebu (I can’t remember the spelling of his name) is just looking for an issue where there is none.
The statistics in that report are misleading and just wrong!
I ask myself, why FIRS?
The same FIRS that is funding the nation today?
The same FIRS that is providing the resources that the Federal Government is using to pay its staff?
The same FIRS that is the reason States have not gone bankrupt? The same FIRS that is funding the salaries paid to teachers and administrators even up to the Local Government level?
Does the author know what is really happening in this country? Let me give him small gist. Nigeria used to earn most of its revenue from crude oil sales. That is history today. The country, since January 2022, has not seen one single Naira from crude oil sales. The story from NNPC and its friends is that the money has been used to pay for subsidy; or that the money has been used to settle this or that.
The next question is: So where has the entire Federation and Federal Government been getting money to fund Nigeria? To pay salaries? To build roads? To pay contractors? To fuel the jets our Ogas at the top, including the 36 State Governors are flying? The answer is FIRS, my people! FIRS!
And it is the same FIRS that one non-existent Godwin wants to throw mud at because of its meagre budget? Do we know that by any standards, what the FIRS has as a budget is an insult to the agency of government that is solely funding the entire country?
Go and ask NNPC what its budget is: TRILLIONS of Naira! And it has less than 2,500 staff. This FIRS is bringing in one year, the remittances of almost 10 years that the NNPC has brought to the Federation account; yet it has a paltry budget of about 200 billion Naira! Tufiakwa! If I were the FIRS Executive Chairman I would protest this. No way!
In Nigeria, when you are doing the undone, when you are achieving milestones, when you are succeeding where others have failed, instead of you to get the deserved accolades, unknown bodies would try to pull you down and question your success. This man is turning Nigeria to a serious tax funded country and he is not given the needed resources to even do more, yet Godwin from one village we cannot trace is telling us that his budget is too much?
Of the over 200 billion Naira budget, over 70% of it goes to over 11,300 staff as salaries and wages. The so-called claim that the FIRS is sewing uniforms with 2.8 billion is false, malicious and mischievous. This is because the amount represents wardrobe and corporate outfit allowances to over 11,300 staff and by a simple calculation that is about N300,000 per staff for the whole year.
The author is talking about 1 Billion Naira for generator fueling and maintenance. Do you know that FIRS has over 400 offices nationwide? And over 290 generators across these offices in Nigeria? How are they expected to run those offices when there is power outage? How are they expected to maintain efficiency and provide the needed revenue for government to run its affairs when they cannot fuel and maintain their generators to run their offices? Whoever wrote that garbage article does not mean well for Nigeria.
This same FIRS as at 30th September had collected N7.5 trillion for the country in the year 2022 alone. The fact that the country can pay its security forces to ensure we are all safe is courtesy the FIRS. I make bold to say this. Let anyone challenge me. The question serious Nigerians should be asking is what is happening to all the money FIRS is collecting?
Where are all these moneys going to? What have the governments at the Federal, State and Local Governments done with these moneys that FIRS has collected for them? These are the questions we must ask, and not be like Godwin trying to discredit the only agency funding Nigeria today.
Godwin, or whatever he calls himself is simply setting Nigerians against the only transparent, hardworking and impactful institution we have in Nigeria today, certainly FIRS is the only institution standing tall among its contemporaries in our country today. And we will rise up against his mischievous type and say NO! Leave the FIRS alone!
Dr. Thompson Udenwa, writes from Imo State