The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in collaboration with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has held a stakeholders’ engagement forum to interact on ways of improving payment timelines and report back to them how taxpayers’ monies have been expended as part of moves to achieve its mandate of implementing relevant policies and to develop and regulate information technology for sustainable development.
The engagement forum was to allow stakeholders to evaluate what has been achieved so far with the taxpayers’ monies and appeal for prompt payment of relevant levies for the agency to fast-track the realisation of critical development in the digital economy sector.
The event afforded participants – from both beneficiaries of the levy and the taxpayers, including telecommunications companies (Telcos), pension managers and pension-related companies, cyber companies, insurance companies, banks and other financial institutions – the opportunity to share ideas and re-examine the concept and prospects of taxation.
In his presentation, the director-general of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi enumerated the agency’s achievements from inception to date and explained the Nigerian IT ecosystem in general, highlighting its challenges and potentials.
Abdullahi noted that the agency’s National Digital Skills Strategy Implementation is geared towards ensuring that 95 per cent of Nigerians become digitally literate by 2030, as he mentioned opportunities that include training one million developers to potentially generate $20 billion annually.
The DG further stated that the initiative will increase foreign inflow to Nigeria while closing the global projected 85 million talent deficit and US$8.5 trillion in unrealised revenues by 2030.
Speaking on Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy Strategy Implementation, Abdullahi stressed that the roadmap for the adoption of AI will tap into the $13 trillion global market by 2030.
“We have some flagship initiatives and projects which we believe can help us capture value; one of such is building and hatching talents because, according to research, by 2030, there would be an 85 million talent deficit globally, making talent a huge industry itself.
“So,” Abdullahi revealed, “we are working towards positioning Nigeria as the world’s talent factory, exporting our brains, providing a talented workforce for you to render services for your establishments, Nigeria, the continent and the world”.
He further reiterated the need for continuous collaborations for higher productivity, insisting that “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it. We believe in teamwork and we know there are things we can do as a government that you cannot do in the private sector and vice-versa but, together, nothing is impossible. That’s why we are here to forge a common front of working together, co-create the ecosystem and prosperity for all.”
Also, the NITDA boss explained that the key focus of the agency is the implementation of the Nigeria Start-up Act, completion of the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre, National Data Strategy Implementation, Adoption of Blockchain Technology, implementation of the National Digital Skills Strategy, amongst others.
“As we look to the future, NITDA is committed to sustaining the momentum, leveraging emerging technologies, developing policies and strategies that promote digital transformation and creating an enabling environment for startups and entrepreneurs to thrive.
“We believe that, with you all, we can build a more prosperous Nigeria; a country that is at the forefront of Africa’s digital economy and a nation that can compete globally,” Abdullahi assured.
In his keynote address, the executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami commended NITDA for the introduction of technology in the tax collection and payment processes. He said these have positively impacted on taxpayers and the government’s ability to deliver social goods, critical infrastructure and other necessary services.
Nami, who was represented by the service’s lead for general tax operations, Kabiru Abba, revealed that FIRS collected and remitted the sum of N22,574,099,600.06 in 2022 and the total sum collected by FIRS on behalf of the agency from 2008 to December 2022 was N168,847,118,268.22.
He said it was important to showcase the achievements of NITDA, particularly, so that taxpayers can easily make a connection between the taxes paid and its socio-economic impact which will also assist to improve voluntary compliance.
“FIRS, for instance, is continuously implementing initiatives which are principally driven by the use of information technology and many of such initiatives have been successfully implemented, including the recently introduced Electronic Tax Clearance Certificate (ETCC),” he added.
Nami further noted that the NITDA collection has also shown a significant improvement, as the highest collection recorded so far was in 2022 – at N22,574,099,600.06 – affirming that the FIRS is a key partner of NITDA and the assists in the assessment, collection and accounting for the agency’s revenue, as stated in section 16 of the NITDA Act (2007).
Also, he assured NITDA of continuous support to achieve its mandate and emphasised that the support is important, seeing as IT plays a vital role in the operations of the service in ensuring increased revenue for the nation.
Awards for outstanding performance to NITDEF were also presented to Nami and others while certificates were also presented to various stakeholders.