Strong indications have emerged that the tenure of Babatunde Fowler as executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) may not be renewed following President Muhammadu Buhari’s misgivings about his stewardship.
Fowler, whose tenure expired on Saturday, has been queried over revenue collection under his watch.
In a letter circulating on social media and dated August 8, 2019, Abba Kyari, chief of staff to the president, the FIRS chairman was given up till August 19 to respond to the query — two days after his tenure would have expired.
He was expected to have handed over to the next most senior person in FIRS having been appointed for a renewable term of four years on August 18, 2015.
In the query, Kyari wrote: “Your attached letter (FIRS/EC/CWP/0249/19/027 dated 26 July 2019) on the above subject matter, refers.
“We observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018. Accordingly, you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between budgeted and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018.
“Furthermore, we observed that the actual collections for the period 2015 to 2017 were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014. Accordingly, you are kindly to explain the reasons for the poor collections.
“You are kindly invited to respond by 19 August 2019. Please accept the assurances of my highest regards.”
Fowler might be yet another victim of the cold war in the presidency which has already claimed Okechukwu Enelamah, former minister of trade and investment, who was not re-nominated.
Fowler is a long-term friend and associate of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who is believed to have nominated him for the FIRS position in 2015.