Some residents of Kogi Sate have observed that although the state has witnessed diverse styles of governance in its almost 27 years of existence, harnessing the enormous natural and tourism resources in the state for tangible revenue has remained a challenge.
They observe that with the shifting of power from the east senatorial district of the state to the its central, producing Alhaji Yahaya Bello as the governor of the state on Jan. 27, 2016, the expectations are high that new ideas of generating revenue for the state development will evolve.
Many politically inclined citizens of the state also express optimism that the Bello-led administration will give new strength to tax system in the state and rid the state civil service of corrupt tendency.
Beyond that, they note that the administration should restore people’s confidence in government by faithfully fulfilling his electioneering promises on developing education, health, infrastructure and fighting corruption.
They also note that they are not unmindful of the importance of adequate funds for the government to execute its programmes for the wellbeing of the people which required innovation in revenue generation.
They, therefore, called on the APC-led government in the state to be innovative in tax administration for increased revenue.
In his view, a resident of the state, Mr Adagiri Zubairu, an economist, said that the Bello’s administration ought to buckle-up in its methods of revenue generation.
He recalled the Bello’s inaugural speech in which he said that the state government was not unmindful of the expectations of the people and it would be sensitive to their yearnings and aspirations by giving them good government.
“We promised to fight corruption in all ramifications to standstill and reposition Kogi Internal Revenue Service (KGIRS) for efficient service.
“We will see increase in our Internally Generated Revenue; we have conceived a socio-economic blueprint that will benefit the people,’’ he quoted Bello as saying.
According to him, the governor’s resolve to revolutionise the revenue generating arm of the state government is timely.
In the light of the present administration’s resolve in that regard, the administrators of KGIRS said that they had swung into action by setting up various mechanisms to shore up revenue profile of the state.
Alhaji Oseni Yakubu, the executive chairman of the service, said that his management had overhauled the service and recruited 500 competent personnel to beef-up the staff strength and boost revenue drive.
“When we came in 2016, we met an establishment that was generating just about N250 million to N300 million per month.
“However, when we took over the mantle of leadership, we initiated two policies–Take-off and Growth programmes — to ensure efficiency in the operations of the service.
“At the level of take-off, we increased the staff strength from 293 staff members to 500 workers and most of our new staff members are those with relevant professional qualifications.
“This is with a view to injecting professionalism and the desired efficiency and enhanced productivity among personnel while we redeployed old staff to other state government agencies.
“By this, we have been able to reduce the number of youths roaming the streets in the state without gainful employment, reducing youth-related crimes as well as increasing positive contributors to the social and economic development of the state,’’ Yakubu said.
He said that the need to enhance the revenue base of the state also prompted the new management to tap into the hidden areas of untapped revenue and undertook auditing of the finances of some organisations to boost revenue profile of the state.
The chairman said that the exercise covered between 2011 and 2016, noting that: “we have no regret taking such decision as it has helped us to clean up the tax environment, halt compromise in revenue generation and build a new tax system.
“The totality of our take-off policy is that we have been able to build on between N250 million and N300 million monthly revenue that we met in 2016 by 300 per cent and we are not relenting in raising the percentage’’.
He said further that KGIRS was in the process of reactivating all dormant revenues in the state through the establishment of the Geographic Information System to automate the account systems of government agencies and check leakages.
He also said that the management had established Tax Education Unit aimed at enlightening tax payers on the importance of tax payment.
According to him, KGIRS is autonomous; separated from the usual bureaucratic bottleneck in government, all in a bid to enhance the revenue effort of the state.
He said the new management met non-befitting KGIRS office but sought the permission of the state government to build a modern office that ranked among the best in the country.
He described tax as fundamental to government effort in providing efficient and quality services for the wellbeing of the people.
Yakubu warned that KGIRS had put in place effective checks and balances to check erring officers and any officer found with corrupt tendency would be disciplined accordingly.
For further fight against corruption, he urged school authorities to inculcate in the pupils the concept of civic responsibility early in life.
He assured the tax payers of using public funds judiciously in constructing roads, improved the education and health sectors, among other development projects.
“There is hardly any district in the state that you don’t see one or two roads, either being rehabilitated of reconstruction going on, same goes for other sectors of the economy of the state, this means that the state government is utilising tax payers’ money for the purpose intended,’’ he observed.
He said substantial amount of tax payers’ money had been committed to strengthening security agencies in the state in a bid to ensuring reduction in crime and sustained peace.
He observed further that although the state had experienced the activities of criminals in the recent past, it could described as one of the most peaceful states in the country presently.
He, nonetheless, reminded the workers that tax was not meant solely for payment of workers’ salary and other emoluments but also for the development of infrastructure.
He attributed the delay in payment of salary to the need to rid the state of ghost workers syndrome that characterised the state civil service before the coming of the present administration in the state.
Yakubu, therefore, urged those with problem related to payment of salary to exercise patience with the state government to enable it to sort out the problems and create a sound platform for prompt payment of salary of the civil servants.