It was all emotions when Alhaji Adamu Sani departed the Taraba State Board of Internal Revenue, having retired. Staff shedded tears as he exited his office at the close of work on Friday, 21 November 2016. Family and friends waited all day long, and the Board stood still for this gentleman who has touched the lives of the staff and left the Board better than he met it. Taravoices’ Nick Dugba, caught up with him in his office to share with us his experiences and give us his swan song.
This is your last day in office as the number one tax officer of the state, can you share your experience with us?
I have achieved a lot, and this is something I am proud of. My staff can attest to it. Not so long ago, the entire staff invited me to a function which I didn’t know how it was organized to honor me in a colorful ceremony. I was presented with an award for capacity building, staff welfare, growth in revenue for the period I have served here and for the development of infrastructure across the state. For the first time in Taraba state, we have been able to record over N4 Billion. Over the years, it has not been done. We have for the first time been able to put up offices in Gassol, Karim Lamido. We have purchased vehicles, developed the capacity of staff in ICT. A set of 25 have been trained, each one possessing a laptop to himself. These are positive indications for a government worker leaving service. I will leave service a fulfilled man.
What were the challenges you have faced over over the years?
Challenges are obvious where ever you find yourself. I must tell you I have enjoyed maximum cooperation from the entire staff of this Board. Secondly, in comparative terms, the Board of Internal Revenue is more comfortable than most of the MDAs across the State. If at all there are challenges, it is the inability to reach other LGAs. My intention has been to establish an office in Bali and Zing. But I am convinced that whoever is taking over from me will pay attention in that direction. However, it will be wrong of me if I tell you I didn’t face any challenges, but I found it very easy because I related with the staff. So I think I am a happy person.
The country is in recession, and one of the ways of pulling out of it is to focus on the IGR. What is your advice to the government of Taraba on that?
We have told the government that the mining activities on Mambilla Plateau and other areas; government should buy the rights. The governor has approved the purchase of rights from the Ministry of Mines and Power. Very soon, it would start yielding results. Secondly, I would call on the staff of the Board of Internal Revenue and other revenue collecting agencies to live up to expectations because temptations are not put in check, and you have leakages here and there. Thirdly, perhaps by our location in Taraba state, destiny is not too favorable to us for the simple fact that we don’t have a vibrant formal sector whereby revenue would just drop without any hitch. We have the informal sector; these are petty businesses, but revenue coming out of this sector is nothing to write home about. But that is the reality. You can’t compare us with places like Ogun, Rivers, Delta where you have a vibrant formal sector that statutorily generates revenue. I would call on the general public to know that payment of tax is a civic responsibility. Once you have income, you must pay tax. We were in Mambilla Plateau. If you want to talk about revenue, you have to dwell on cattle and the likes, but they are not willing to pay. We had to go there to sensitize them, and the remote nature of the state is drawing us back, but I am quite convinced that if we pay attention to the mining activities on the Mambilla Plateau, Taraba state would be better for it. Let government come out with a policy to pay 13 percent derivation to mining states. It is done in the oil producing states. Let us enjoy it, because the mining here is termed as an illegal activity. It has to be systematized and codified so that the 13 percent derivation can be accruable to the state. It is a serious business going on the Mambilla Plateau!
As you leave the scene after spending 35 Years in service, do you intend to join politics?
Will it not be too early to tell you? Let me give you a 50-50 probability. I may do that; I may not do that. But I am thinking of what to do. I will take a month or two and rest. If I am going into politics, I will let you know.
What are your final words for Tarabans as you leave the scene?
We have a duty to develop our state. As a revenue man, I call on citizens of Taraba to pay their tax and promptly too. I call on the young ones coming behind me to live up to expectation. We have to develop this state whether we like it or not. We don’t have any other state. I give my clarion call to all tax paying citizens to comply and pay their tax.