Ahmed Bashir claimed that it is not a “constitutional right” to renew someone’s tenure after expiration.
While there is a provision in the constitution for another tenure post the first four-year reign, it is not a constitutional right. This is consequent on the fact that it is still subject to presidential appointment.
The aftermath of President Buhari’s replacement of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) chairman- well ex-chair- left a slew of questions on the minds of many Nigerians.
While BusinessDay’s publication laid the groundwork in answering key questions such as Muhammad Nami’s credentials– Fowler’s replacement, it is perhaps other headlines such as, “BREAKING: Buhari fails to renew Fowler’s tenure, names Muhammad Nami as successor,” that left many with mixed reactions and interesting statements. The statement made by President Buhari’s Personal Assistant to new media, Bashir Ahmed, is a notable example.
He claimed it was not a constitutional right to renew the appointment of FIRS chairman in Nigeria. He argued that the expiration of Fowler’s appointment did not necessitate the President’s action for renewal.
Failed FIRS Targets & the Buhari-Administration
President Buhari appointed Babatunde Fowler as FIRS chairman in August 2015; the same year, the tax agency began to record shortfalls in tax revenue collections. This was after years of surpassing its annual targets, the economic recession of 2016 may have a bearing here.
These consistent shortfalls (cumulatively N3.98 trillion circa 2015-2018) by the FIRS were the reason for Abbah Kyari’s query. We recall in August how the President’s Chief of Staff issued a query to Fowler in this regard. Also of consequence, was their role in the country’s failure to achieve its annual spending objectives within the past few years.
But Fowler in his reaction to the query blamed the recession as well as lower oil prices in the international market for the variances in revenue targets and actual collections within the four-year period.
Federal government plans to amend existing task policies (through the 2019 finance bill) are perhaps direct responses to the tax revenue remittances.
While some may fear Fowler’s inability to meet tax revenue shortfalls may have led to his replacement; there are separate concerns that the replacement could have some political inkling ahead of 2023 presidential election.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s friendship with Fowler spurred more of these assumptions. More so, denying him a second tenure as FIRS boss could reduce Osinbajo’s influence within the government.
He is entitled to a single four-year renewal!
Monday marked the conclusion of Fowler’s first four-year tenure as FIRS Chairman after a December 9, 2015 confirmation.
In order to ascertain the veracity of Ahmed’s claim, BusinessDay obtained the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act, 2007 from the service’s website. The Act establishes the FIRS and charged it “with the powers of assessment, collection of, and accounting for revenues accruable to the government of the federation; and for related matters.”
“the chairman and other members of the Board, other than ex-officio members, shall each hold office for a term of four years renewable only once”Section 4 of the FIRS Act 2007
Nonetheless, it remains the President’s prerogative
Based on the provision of the FIRS (Establishment) Act, 2007, Fowler’s tenure is renewable for another four years… but, at the discretion of President Buhari. Hence, Ahmed’s claim that the renewal of the FIRS chairman was not a constitutional right is TRUE!
This report is a republished piece with the original by Business Day.