Muhammad Shehu, the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), emphasized the importance of Nigerians paying their taxes to bolster government revenue and enhance service delivery. Shehu expressed concern that currently, fewer than 40 million Nigerians are actively contributing to the tax base, which he deemed insufficient for a country with a population exceeding 200 million.
In an interview, Shehu clarified that political office holders in Nigeria do not receive extravagant emoluments, contrary to some public perceptions.
Additionally, Shehu highlighted the commission’s efforts in promoting transparency in revenue generation and sharing across the three tiers of government through the development of specialized software.
He commended President Bola Tinubu’s establishment of a Tax Reform Committee, believing it would play a crucial role in expanding the tax net to include participants from the informal sector.
Shehu explained, “There is ongoing debate about the informal economy. What this tax reform committee will do is bring various agencies together, including RMAFC. We are part of that committee, and we have articulated our position. We will contribute our insights to enrich the discussions. Ultimately, we aim for a society where more individuals pay taxes, and the funds are utilized to enhance services and infrastructure for the benefit of all Nigerians.”
Shehu also urged the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to identify groups of Nigerians who evade taxes. He stressed the importance of tax payments as they fund essential services and infrastructure development.
Regarding recent public backlash over reports of a proposed 114 percent increase in salaries for political office holders by the commission, Shehu stated that the information was inaccurate. He clarified that the RMAFC’s constitutional responsibility is to determine and review the salaries of executive, legislative, and judicial officers. These salaries were last reviewed in 2007, and no revisions have occurred since.
Shehu assured the public that the commission would not consider such an increase at this time, given the economic challenges faced by Nigerians. He dispelled notions of exorbitant salaries for political office holders, revealing that the monthly salary of the President is less than N1.5 million, and that of a minister falls below N1 million.
Furthermore, Shehu explained that what people often perceive as excessive earnings for lawmakers are actually statutory office running costs, which should ideally be managed centrally by the National Assembly Service Commission.