By Inusa Ndahi, Maiduguri
Though Boko Haram insurgency, now in its 11th year, has practically wiped off economic activities in 20 out of its 27 local government areas (LGAs), Borno State grew its internally generated revenue by 25.3% from N6.52 billion in 2018 to N8.17 billion in 2019.
This was disclosed today in Maiduguri, the state capital, by Alhaji Ali Manga Bulama, the Executive Chairman of Borno State Internal Revenue Service, when an Excellence in IGR Award 2019/2020 was presented to him by Alford Conferences Limited, the convener of the annual Nigerian States IGR Summit.
At the award presentation, Alhaji Bulama said, “In 2019, we were able to collect revenue mainly in Maiduguri metropolis and to some extent in six additional local government areas: Jere, Bayo, Shani, Kwaya Kusar, Hawul and Biu. The situation has remained pretty much the same even in the previous years. Though the continuing insurgency has taken a huge toll on lives and economic activities in the state, we have continued to seek and deploy creative ways to collect taxes and other revenue so that the state can keep operating financially.”
Bulama explained further that, “Trans-border trade between Nigeria and its neighbouring countries of Niger, Chad and Cameroon has also been grounded due to the insurgency. Borno is the only state in the country that shares borders with three countries, and this trans-border trade was an important part of the economy of our economy for several years and decades.”
“Though we currently face great limitations in revenue collections, Borno State remains the pillar when you look at the economy of the entire North East zone of the federation. And, on a positive note, I must thank our state governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, for his raw determination to bring Borno State back to stability and normalcy, even at a great risk to his own life.”
“Still on a positive note, let me inform those outside the state and outside the country that Maiduguri, the state capital, has confidently bounced back to life, after the many years that it suffered all kinds of internal strife leading to loss of lives and valuable property.”
While presenting the Excellence in IGR Award to Borno State, Mr. Frederick Apeji, the convener of Nigerian States IGR Summit, said, “We are gathered here today to honour Alhaji Ali Manga Bulama, the Executive Chairman of Borno State Internal Revenue Service, a taxation professional of over 30 years, who has produced many victories in the internally generated revenue (IGR) of Borno State, despite the challenges that his agency faces on a daily basis. Specifically, we commend Alhaji Bulama and his team for growing the internally generated revenue (IGR) of Borno State by 25.3% from N6.52 billion in 2018 to N8.17 billion in 2019.”
While formally receiving the Class of 2019 State Governors in Nigeria in 2019, the Vice President of the country, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, charged them to explore ways of improving their internally generated revenue (IGR) in the next few years. In his words, “It was possible for states to generate significant revenues from agriculture. After all, the mind boggling achievements of the regions in our history were without oil money, but mainly from agriculture and taxes.”
In 2019, 34 states in Nigeria, including Borno, depended on the Federation Account for more than 50% of their entire revenue. Last month, the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Engr. Elias Mbam, warned that this Federation Account, on which majority of the states depend so much, is over stressed. Mr. Mbam urged state governments to develop strategies to boost their internal revenue.
According to Mr. Apeji, “Today, there is less money coming to the states from the Federation Account. The need for each state of the federation to look inwards and come up with strategies to grow its internally generated revenue (IGR) has therefore become very critical.”
“As part of our response to this critical national need, we have created Nigerian States IGR Summit, an annual conference designed to encourage and foster a healthy competition among the FCT and the 36 states of Nigeria in order to substantially increase their internally generated revenue (IGR). Whether as individuals or organizations, healthy competition brings out the best in all of us. This is what this summit hopes to foster among the 36 states and FCT in the crucial area of IGR in 2021 and beyond.”