The shift to non-oil revenue must be a properly managed paradigm shift and not the exchange of one extreme dependence for another.
If the Federal Government succeeds in navigating Nigeria through its current economic crisis through uncommon, active, creative and sustained thinking, it would have laid the foundation for a better Nigeria by 2019.
Presently, the expectations on the Federal Government are so enormous and are only outweighed by the frustrations of an impatient, disenchanted and disillusioned citizenry. Many Nigerians are tired of excuses and rhetorics and only request the Federal Government to deliver clear and actionable solutions. Even then, the Federal Government and its economic management team must be wary of “quick fixes, which lead to short fixes and in the end, no fixes”!
At the center of Nigeria’s economic rescue agenda is the need to enhance recoveries from non-oil revenue and improve the Federal Government’s cashflow position. The urgency in the shift to non-oil revenue sources is clear. Revenue from taxation is a critical component of this shift and this places the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the various State Internal Revenue Services in the bull’s eye. Nigeria’s challenge is not necessarily the decline in oil prices but rather that the high oil prices in the past had continued to mask Nigeria’s over-dependence on oil to drive the economy and the relatively small tax base outside the oil and gas industry.
Thus, with “Taxation” now becoming the new “TINA” in Nigeria’s economic & fiscal crisis universe, the imperative of an end-to-end, wholistic fiscal agenda cannot be overemphasized. TINA is the acronym for “There Is No Alternative” a slogan popularized by the then Conservative British Prime Minister, Late Margaret Thatcher, to signify that free markets, free trade and capitalist globalisation are the best or the only way for modern societies to develop. It is now generally accepted that “Tax” is the surest path upward, revenue-wise for the nation.
In view of the country’s dire situation, the cooperation of all Nigeria’s citizens, both corporate and individuals, are required in the discharge of their civic responsibility with regard to tax compliance. This is not a big ask given that taxes paid by citizens of most of the developed countries are used by governments to run their economies, and this confers on the citizenry a legitimate stake in public governance. Nigeria cannot and should not be an exception in this regard, as this can only be achieved if citizens pay their taxes and live up to their civic responsibilities and expectations.