The Vice President, Arc. Mohammed Namadi Sambo, has decried the failure of Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd from being a viable company despite securing a bank facility amounting to over N11.7 billion. Vice President Sambo made the statement at the State House, Abuja during a courtesy visit by the management team of Ecobank. He said “the case of NITEL/Mtel is a very unfortunate development; ordinarily it is a company that should be doing well because if the private sector should come and do one of the most viable business in this sector, I see no reason why even with the support from banks like Ecobank, the company still failed.”
He reiterated the Federal Government’s determination to sell the company, adding that NITEL-Mtel is undergoing the process of privatisation and as soon as this is consummated the Federal Government would offset the huge indebtedness incurred by the company.
Arc Sambo assured Ecobank management team which has put in a total of N11.7 billion to acquire equipment for NITEL/Mtel in 2006 that he will discuss the issue with President Goodluck Jonathan as well as meet with the Minister of Finance and the Director General of Bureau of Public Enterprises “on the need to clear all indebtedness.”
Assuring the Chairman of the bank that government is making everything possible to discourage the recurrence of such situation, Arc Sambo commended the bank for participating in infrastructure development in the country.
He highlighted that government is doing all it can to provide enabling environment for banks to participate in infrastructure development, as according to him “we cannot have a country where banks cannot assist in business development as government is trying to fix the power sector since the life of every other sector is connected to how energy in terms of electricity is provided.”
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the bank, Dr. Sunny Kuku, said he was in the State House to request the intervention of the Federal Government to liquidate the indebtedness which NITEL and its subsidiary Mtel owed the bank. He said the loan was given to the company in 2006 to acquire equipment to continue in telephone operation as a national carrier.
Kuku lamented that as at December 2010, the total amount which the company has to pay is N11.7 billion and this has affected the bank and the bank’s auditors have cautioned that it should not be treated as bad debt. He said the loan was to be offset initially by the cash flow that would come from the installation of the equipment which was to be used by Lagos zone.
According to Kuku, what made the bank to come for Federal Government’s assistance was that the Bureau of Public Enterprises had given a letter stating that the matter now is to be treated as a federal government instrument. He also disclosed that Ecobank Transnational is owned by ECOWAS countries and is located in about thirty countries in Africa and helps in continental money transfer.
FIRS Predicts Increased Revenue Base
The Federal Inland Revenue Service has predicted increased revenue in 2011 if stakeholders and taxpayers are conscious of their responsibilities for national development.
The Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui Okauru who made the prediction assured that the ongoing repositioning drive by the service would significantly boost the country’s revenue base.
Speaking in Lagos at an academic seminar titled: ‘The Taxpayers’ Money’, organised by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), the FIRS boss noted that an improve tax awareness campaign and system of administration of taxation by stakeholders could go a long way to enhance higher revenue collection.
She opined that taxation be incorporated in schools’ curriculum to enable the up-coming generation appreciate the importance of paying tax from their early stages of life.
Okauru said tax collection must not be seen as a way of collecting money from a sect of people but rather as “a peoples’ way of life”.
“There has been a steady improvement on Nigeria revenue collection over the years and we believe that our revenue collection will continue to improve. However, there are certain principles which we have to pursue: everybody should be involved and we should begin to see taxation as a catalyst to national development. We must also believe that if the taxpayers’ money is important to national development, then, the taxpayers are equally important or even more important,” she said.
Describing taxation as the life-wire of the nation, she urged everyone to be passionate about sharing information on how to bring potential taxpayers into the tax net.
According to her, the efforts of tax stakeholders to improve revenue collection in Nigeria could only yield better result if accountability is entrenched in the system and taxpayers involved in the decision-making process.
“The involvement of taxpayers in decision making encourages accountability. The keepers of the purse must also contribute to the purse. It is important that the keepers of the money are also the contributors of the money. Whatever position we find ourselves, we must always remember to obey tax laws,” she said.
Special Adviser to Lagos State Governor on Taxation and Revenue, Mr. Ade Ipaye, said the country was being underfunded owing to negligence of the citizens and residents to pay their taxes adding that government could not function optimally without adequate funding.