It is no gainsaying that the existence of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS) has changed fortunes of the state. The agency has within a year of its operation, transformed the hitherto economically fallow state to a proverbial land flowing with milk and honey. This is evident in the revenue generating capacity of the agency.
The KWIRS in the year 2016 boosted the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state with N17.4 billion in the face of dwindling economy in the state, an aggregate which is a far cry from the average of N7.2billion generated annually by the defunct Kwara State Board of Internal Revenue Service.
This milestone achievement cannot be divorced from the financial wizard, economic guru and expert in taxation, the Executive chairman of KWIRS, Dr. Muritala Awodun.
The game changer through his astute administration fashioned out strategies, which has today become a success story.
Upon the inauguration of the the revenue house, the Awodun led management swung into action by implementing programmes aimed at enlightening the public on the importance and benefits of tax payment. These included sensitisation programmes for stakeholders cutting across government establishment, private sectors and traditional rulers in the state. The agency visited all the major markets, communities and paid courtesy visits to traditional rulers across the 16 LGs to solicit their cooperation in revenue collection.
To further achieve this end, the agency introduced a platform called Community Impact Programme tagged 5Es – Environment, Education Enterprise, Employment and Empowerment, through which tax payers in each community can enjoy benefits of discharging their social responsibilities.
Under this programme, the executive chairman and his team embarked on activities in various communities such as distribution of school kits to primary schools. In addition, there was the institution of Kwara Tax Club in secondary schools across the three senatorial districts. Quiz competitions were organised with Government Secondary School, Omu-Aran emerging as winner at the grand finale. Prizes worth N3 millions and scholarship were awarded to the best students.
As part of its corporate social responsibilities, KWIRS embarked on activities for healthier environment such as evacuation of refuse dumps at Ipata market in Ilorin and Alapa market in Asa LG and clearing of drainages at the Gerin Alimi roundabout and other parts of the metropolis.
Other activities of the agency also include, building befitting toilets at Ago market in Ilorin West LG, filling of pot-holes at Tanke and other areas within the metropolis, renovation of about 200 shops destroyed by fire disaster at the Oja-Tuntun market in Ilorin, donation of N5million towards roofing at Owode market in Offa, renovation of Kaiama and Gbugbu markets in Edu, Kwara North, fencing of cattle market near Ajase-Ipo town and scholarship for Kwara students among other community services.
It is pertinent to note that with the conception of Infrastructural Funds Kwara (IF-K), the revenue house has been contributing a total sum of N500 million on monthly basis to fund it.
Due to the constant shortfalls in federal allocation, the agency through its revenue generating activities has been able to support salary payment of workers in the state.
Speaking on achievements of the agency during its end of year event held at Whitefield Hotels Ilorin on Saturday, Awodun said "Our journey started with our appointment in October 2015, which was properly inaugurated in January 2016 because we had to make preparations for the assignment given to us through the months of October to December 2015.
He noted that some stakeholders had played important roles in the achievements of the revenue house, which according to him needed to be appreciated.
Awodun stressed, "The figures generated as IGR in the state for 2015 was N7.2 billion and that was an average of N600 million monthly.
"But, in the year 2016 we recorded a total sum of N17.4 billion, so moving from N7.2 billion to N17.4billion particularly in a year of recession is quite an effort," he enthused.
In appreciation of support received, the agency presented awards to various stakeholders at the event.
First Bank PLC was awarded the most supportive and highest collecting institution out of 18 financial institutions collaborating with the revenue house, while Fidelity Bank PLC won the grand category of stakeholders to the revenue House.
The Most Supportive Local Government award for tax generation was given to Baruten LG, while the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Sulu Gambari won the Most Supportive Traditional Ruler in Kwara Central, the Oba of Eruku, Oba Busari won for Kwara South and the the Emir of Ilesha Baruba, Prof. Haliru Abubakar for Kwara north.
In addition, the International Tobacco Company (ITC) was awarded Most Remittance Company, Deeper Life Bible Academy located at Eiyenkorin won the Most Cooperative Organisation and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, was given the Most Supportive Ministry.
Speaking on behalf of the awardees, the Business Manager, Public Sector of First Bank PlC, Mr. Faleye Shola said ” It is not something that just happened but a process. We have been part of the process since inception of the service in 2015.
He urged the public to give maximum support for a smooth tax collection to develop the economy of the state.
Also, the Emir of Ilesha Baruba who spoke on behalf of the traditional rulers called on people to support the agency in ensuring effective revenue generation in their communities as basis for societal development.