Fresh facts have emerged on how the ousted executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Tunde Fowler, begged for reappointment in a leaked letter.
Recall that Fowler was replaced as the helmsman at the FIRS despite endless efforts and consultations by him and his promoters to be retained on the job. He was replaced by a tax consultant, Muhammad M. Nami.
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Public Affairs, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the composition of a new board for the FIRS, subject to Senate confirmation.
Even though there was nothing wrong in making an effort to retain his juicy position, what stood out as sour thumb, however, was who the letter was addressed to.
The position of FIRS chairman is normally held at the pleasure of the Nigerian president, so it left one scratching his head as to why an official correspondent was addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federal, SGF, Boss Mustapha!
Yes, he may report to the president through the SGF but that doesn’t confer the power to appoint or dismiss on Mustapha.
Could it be that the theory making rounds for sometime that Nigerians have more than one president in the presidency true?
Fowler , who is 63years old, worked with Johnson & Johnson USA and then spent 20years banking career in major commercial banks in Nigeria before retiring as general manager of Standard Chartered Bank in 2004.
Until last Friday, Fowler’s name rung bells wherever and whenever it was mentioned.
There is a school of thought that had even opined that Fowler may begin his endless visits to and from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, office as investigation into his activities had started before the expiration of the his tenure as the agency’s chairman.
In May 2019, 40 senior and junior management staff of the FIRS, including the Director of Finance, Mr. M. Auta, were arrested for an alleged N2.1billion scam purportedly siphoned through the alleged payment of Duty Tour Allowances (DTA) to the staff.
Some of the suspects were reportedly paid as much as N101million among other eye-watering figures. The international passports of 10 of the officials were seized to restrict their movement to the country pending investigation. The EFCC said the officials, many of who are trusted and loyal aides of Fowler, were arrested for “alleged inflation of Duty Tour Allowances, humongous payments to staff, diversion of funds and outright stealing of public funds.” It added that there was information that some senior management officials were using their subordinates to siphon funds from the accounts of the FIRS in the guise of travelling allowances. The practice was that the funds were paid to the staff and after little deductions; the bulk of the money was transferred to the senior management staff.
The EFCC stated, “As civil servants, some of the suspects were paid as much as N101million, N97million, N89million, N84million, N65million, N52million and N46million as Duty Tour Allowances. There is no way a civil servant can earn about N101million in his or her 35 years in service. In some instances, some staff claimed to have been in Lagos, Sokoto, Calabar on the same day and collected DTA. Most of the DTA allowances were not used for official purposes or public service. This is a case of stealing and money laundering.”
Could the refusal of the president to renew his tenure be politically motivated to handicap a certain south west politician’s aspiration to becoming the lion in Aso Rock?
As the race to 2023 hots up, the intrigues of politics will be unveiled in time.