70% of Lagos IGR Comes from Taxes—LIRS Chairman
By Dipo Olowookere
The executive chairman of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Mr Ayodele Subair, has said about 70 per cent of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) comes from taxes paid by individuals and organisations doing business in the metropolis.
Mr Subair made this disclosure when he received the Managing Director of New Telegraph Newspapers, Mr Ayodele Aminu, and the Daily Editor of the media platform, Ms Juliet Bumah, in his office in Alausa, recently.
The management of the Daily Telegraph Publishing Company Limited, publishers of New Telegraph Newspapers, visited the LIRS chief to inform him of the decision to honour him with an award of leadership excellence at a ceremony to be held later in the year.
Mr Aminu said the LIRS boss was chosen because of his remarkable contributions to the development of the state and the country, especially in the tax sector.
But Mr Subair attributed the tax revolution in Lagos State to the former Governor of the state and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 general elections, Mr Bola Tinubu, saying he contributed to the significant boost to the Lagos IGR.
“He is the father of this tax revolution in Lagos State. So, we must always give him that credit. Since he made the LIRS board autonomous, the numbers have been leaping in bounds, and we hope to continue on that trajectory because we have to provide the funding for the state.
“The incumbent Governor (Babajide Sanwo-Olu) has been very supportive of our innovations and fresh ideas in tax administration in Lagos State,” he said.
The LIRS leader said Mr Tinubu must be commended for having the vision to “create some independent agencies like the LIRS and making the state less reliant on the federal government’s allocation.”
Speaking on the award, Mr Subair noted, “The joy is when there is a bit of recognition, then you feel justified, you feel happy that you have spent all those long hours burning candles at night and so forth justifiably. I’m very pleased that you have deemed it fit to honour the agency and me. I assure you that management would be well represented at the award ceremony, God’s willing.”
“It is a moment like this that we feel very glad we have put ourselves at the service of our dear state. We usually don’t get any recognition internally or externally; rather, it is you can always do better. But in our world, our numbers speak for themselves.
“In your letter, you said we almost doubled our internal revenue generation since the inception of our tenure, but in fact, it’s more than double,” he added.
While commending the staff of the LIRS for their dedication and steadfastness, the LIRS boss said, “We are delighted that we have been able to achieve all those things. It’s all from dedicated leadership and followership.
“The staff plays a very big role in making our numbers rise. Management directs and formulates the policies and all the various processes that generate such income, but at the same time, we need to commend the foot soldiers; they are the ones out in the field who help us to advocate for taxpayers to try and be tax compliant, to respect the social contracts, and to understand that if they want the state to improve in terms of provision of infrastructure and quality services, they also need to contribute.”
Mr Subair advised Nigerians, especially Lagos residents, not to relent in their duties by paying their taxes regularly and diligently as it would help the government provide infrastructure and social amenities as attainable in developed countries.
“Everybody goes to the UK, U.S and they are all marvelled at the level of their infrastructure, good road network, free education, electricity and all other things. All these are made possible because the people are highly tax-compliant in that clime. Nobody is chasing anyone about paying taxes.
“If you don’t pay tax, the sanctions are there. People go to jail. There are no two ways about it. But unfortunately, in Africa, extending to Nigeria and Lagos, people don’t want to pay taxes.
“Yes, globally, people don’t want to pay; if they could avoid it, they would avoid it, So it makes our job very difficult and trickier,” he noted.
The LIRS chairman said while tax is the most sustainable revenue, it took the federal government so long to start looking inward as tax is funding the operations of the federal government right now.
“The federal government is not getting much from the oil industry like before. So it is just what FIRS is doing that is helping. Likewise, in Lagos, all the federal receipts have gone down considerably, so it’s mostly what we are generating here and some other revenue-generating agencies,” he said.