“James Sowole reports that effort of the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, to increase IGR has led to an increase in money available to the state for infrastructural development”
The recent recession caused by the drastic fall in the crude oil prices in the international market and which affected Nigeria’s earning with the subsequent ugly effects on the money available for sharing to states from Federation Account, was what made many governors to realise the need to look inward to generate more revenue on their own.
The drastic reduction in the money shared to states led to non- payment of salary to many state workers with some states accruing up to one year salary arrears which compelled many to resort to borrowing of all sorts despite bailout by the Federal Government.
Facts have emerged that states were not generating the required IGR not because there were no avenues or sources to generate, but efforts were hampered by the lack of political will, lack of required manpower and various forms of leakages.
Ondo State also known as Sunshine State has experienced its own share of the recession and poor revenue, which led to accumulation of seven months salary arrears when the incumbent governor, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN, was sworn in on February 24, 2017.
Akeredolu on assumption of office therefore declared that a lot needed to be done to increase state’s IGR, which was reported to be at paltry N700 million monthly on the average.
The governor then declared that the state Board of Internal Revenue must be reorganised and reinvigorated to shore up the state’s IGR which would be plough back into the state’s economy.
The efforts of the Akeredolu’s administration had not only resulted in increasing revenue drive, it had put the Sunshine State in the group of states that had achieved more than the double of amount they use to realise before this time.
The IGR of the Sunshine State has moved from about N10.2b in 2017 to N24.8billion in 2018. This leap jump in the IGR of the State pushed the state ranking from 20th to 9th states with the highest IGR in 2018 and first in terms of annual growth according to the Joint Tax Board (JTB) and the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
As at half year, a recent analysis on Channels Television shows the state is Number two after Rivers State in terms of year on year quantum growth in IGR for the first half of 2019
To further keep the tempo on the ascendancy, Akeredolu has approved all proposals encouraging deployment of ICT values into Tax collections in the state.
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Besides this, the implementation of the state Land Use Charge Law 2014 has been made friendlier, with the employment of over 400 revenue officers to drive the scheme while the hitherto Ondo State Board of Internal Revenue has been granted autonomy in operations and functions. A new head office is also being built to house the ODIRS to make the task of revenue collections easy and the current performance sustainable.
The result of the initiative of the government was revealed recently by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its six months (Jan-June 2019) report, which put the state IGR at N19 billion and which put the state among the 10 states with highest revenue during the period.
This feat of the state in the IGR had been generating reactions and accolades from various stakeholders.
The member representing Owo/Ose Federal Constituency of Ondo State in the National Assembly, Otunba Timehin Adelegbe has commended the Akeredolu led Government for the current strides in IGR generation.