Sokoto IGR yesterday vs today: Putting the record straight

“He who seeks equity must come with clean hands.” This is, indeed, an old saying which will ever ring true in the affairs of mankind.

As an active stakeholder in the sector and an indigene of Sokoto state, my attention is drawn to a recent press statement issued by Abubakar Bawa, the press secretary to the state governor, claiming that the previous administration of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal had not encouraged revenue generation. The statement was quoting a speech delivered by Governor Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto, at the latest Annual Conference of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria in Abuja.

At the forum, the governor posited that his government met a discouraging taxation system with sharp practices in the collection and utilisation of IGR,

claiming that he raised Sokoto state’s Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, from a quarterly collection of N2.6 billion to N3.8 billion as at the first quarter of 2024.

I am an avid follower of developments in the revenue sector and I know from facts and data that this assertion is far from the truth and it is, to say the least, improper for the governor of a state to look his esteemed colleagues and other critical stakeholders in such an important issue as IGR, and make careless claims that stand in the face of facts and figures on the ground.

I was aware that in February 2017 the previous administration dissolved the management of the niw defunct Sokoto Board of Internal Revenue and replaced it with an interim management committee with the mandate to improve revenue collection, block all loopholes and create an avenue for professionalism in tandem with global best practices.

Through measures to identify and blocking revenue loopholes, the committee raised the revenue profile of the state, as captured by the Joint Tax Board, from a paltry N4.5b in 2016 to over N9b by the end of 2017. And owing to the political will of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to reposition the revenue board, a law creating a new revenue service was enacted in 2019, to review the revenue rates, automate revenue collection, abolish

cash collection, incorporate new agencies that were not captured in the system.

The new law provided for the appointment of an executive chairman with executive directors to pilot the affairs of the agency. Hence, there was significant improvement in adherence to global best practices.

Ahmed Aliyu should have told the gathering what they were more interested in, which is what exactly his administration is doing to boost IGR, rather than denying the achievements of his predecessor, which all participants in the conference had a means of verifying as false. It is also grossly unfair for the governor to bandy accusations of malpractice at an entire administration, without pointing to the specific “sharp practices” he was inferring to.

Using the facts to expose falsehood, verified Joint Tax Board (JTB) data prove that under Tambuwal’s government Sokoto state’s revenue collection rose from N9b in 2017, to N18b in 2018 and N19b in 2019. The fall in collection to N11b in 2020 was due to the effect of Covid-19 lockdown but the collection peaked to N23b in 2021 and 2022.

In order to reposition the new Sokoto Revenue Service, Tambuwal approved the employment of qualified indigenous university graduates, at least one from each of the 23 local government areas of the state and a quota of at least 30% to females which was conducted through an examination and interview so as to engage the most competent personnel, with subsequent training and induction for both management and staff to equip them for the task.

The recruitment committee was, in fact, headed by Tambuwal’s and current Ahmed Aliyu’s Accountant General, 

Umar Ahmed Tambuwal. Sadly, he is the head of the subsequent committee that massaged Ahmed Aliyu’s ego and misled him into making his false claims on the performance of the previous administration in revenue generation.

TambuwaI’s new revenue law also mandated the revenue agency to collect revenues on behalf of the 23 local governments and remit same to them, with a 5% fee as cost of collection to the agency. Under the law, full financial and administrative autonomy was granted to

the agency to eliminate the bureaucratic bottlenecks of the civil service.

Sadly, Ahmed Aliyu’s government has all but reversed the achievements and spirit of the law by subjecting the revenue service (which has now resumed its pre-autonomy nomenclature of “revenue board”), to his absolute individual control in both collection and administration, in defiance to extant legislation.The revenue structure of Sokoto state is thus currently experiencing the most disorganised period in history, in which revenue is being substantially collected and managed in cash, instead of the digital and online system that Tambuwal had earlier instituted to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability.

The only enduring feature of the transformation of the revenue system recorded by the previous administration is its refurbished and completely modernised office accommodation at the Sokoto State Investment House. The permanent and benefiting edifice, which is under construction to provide a conducive accommodation for optimal effective service delivery, is abandoned by Ahmed Aliyu.

Other progressive innovations by the previous administration through which many new revenue sources were identified that now face disruption by the current government include:

Onion Collection: – Sokoto State is one of the highest producers of onions in Nigeria and by extension the African continent, with the total trade volume of N250b per annum. Hence, a measure was introduced by the Tambuwal government, of a tripartite collection involving state and local governments and the unions/traditional institutions with the sharing formula of 40% to state, 30% to local government, 20% to the union and 10% to the traditional institutions.

Kabu-Kabu/Keke Napep Collection: A daily revenue collection of Kabu-Kabu/Keke Napep fees was introduced with an arrangement with the state government and the unions with a sharing formula of 60% to the state and 40% to the unions and the introduction of POS machines for the collection of such fees.

Tertiary Institutions/Schools Collections: – All revenues collected by these sources were remitted to the bank through a dedicated automated

account, with a sharing formula of 80% going back to the schools, while 20% was retained as revenue to the government. This significantly improved the collection of the schools and thus the revenue profile of the state.

These innovations accrued an average total revenue of N24b annually as at 2021 and 2022 (JTB data), which, by simple arithmetic, translates to an average quarterly collection of N6b and not N2.6b per quarter as erroneously reported by Ahmed Aliyu at the Abuja meeting.

Considering these figures, how

could N3.8b IGR per quarter in 2024 be considered to be growth under Ahmed Aliyu? Even so, the declarations ought to have been supported by facts on how that collection was made by his government. Rather than quoting off hand figures, he should have provided his audience with verifiable data to buttress his claims, because IGR is not a matter for political gimmicks and rhetoric.

It is obvious, however, that the current governor of Sokoto state views even the sacrosanct development issue of revenue generation as a subject for partisan dispute and acrimony. One of his earliest decisions on assuming office was to sack the entire management of the Sokoto Internal Revenue Service (SOIRS) even though that was in direct contravention of the extant law establishing the body, which prescribes a specific term in office for such appointees.

Unlike what currently obtains, the IGR figures during Tambuwal’s administration were corroborated by the ranking of Sokoto as number 17 among the 36 states in Nigeria in IGR performance for 2021 and 2022, with a total collection of N23.6b. Unlike political gimmicks, data and figures do not lie. And the performance of any government in the area of IGR is a matter that can only be proved by verifiable indices, rather than empty claims aimed at securing cheap popularity. If, therefore, Ahmed Aliyu wishes to earn some credit in that area, he should do so with concrete, documented proof and a recourse to the best practices under the laws that are nationally and globally upheld.

Dr Basit Yusuf Alkali writes from 

Sama road, 

Sokoto.