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FIRS Chairman assures MTN, others of friendly tax administration

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By Matthew Denis

The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Dr Zacch Adedeji has assured Nigeria’s leading telco, Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) Nigeria Plc and others of a tax administration that is friendly, customer-centric and helps businesses to flourish and bear more fruits.

He gave the assurance while receiving the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria Plc, Mr Karl Toriola, who led the management team of the company on a visit to the Revenue House in Abuja, on Tuesday.

In a statement by Dare Adekanmbi, Special Adviser on Media to the FIRS chairman said the resolve to create an environment of growth by removing every obstacle in the way of corporate entities was in line with the directive of President Bola Tinubu.

The FIRS chairman, according to the statement, explained that the ongoing restructuring at the agency leading to the creation of a one-stop shop for taxpayers according to their turnover thresholds was part of measures aimed at easing payment of taxes.

“The way we are structured now is that we have large taxpayers’ groups, medium and small. Those in the large tax group are companies with turnover of N5b and above and I know that is where MTN belongs.

“In the large tax category, you will now be required to pay all your taxes, including Company Income Tax, VAT and others in that one-stop shop where you can also have issues relating to audit sorted.

“Essentially, the issue of multiple letters from various units within FIRS over almost the same matter has been taken off the system with the restructuring that we have done. We are now focused on providing the needed service to our customers,” Adedeji said.

Using a tree-fruit metaphor for illustration, the FIRS chairman said, “Our purpose here, like President Bola Tinubu will always say, is not to kill or hew down the trees, but to water them so that they can bear more fruits.

“The relationship between FIRS and you the taxpayers is symbiotic. Your existence actually determines our own existence. If you discover anything in our policies or operations that you are not conversant with, feel free to reach out to us for clarification. This is how we can co-exist,” he said.

Earlier the CEO of MTN, Toriola pledged the support of the company towards the initiatives of the Federal Government and FIRS in increasing tax revenue.

“We are here just to pay a courtesy visit and to congratulate you on your appointment and confirmation. We are also here to pledge our support as MTN Nigeria Plc towards the initiatives of the Federal Government of Nigeria and also for the organization towards making sure that you increase the tax revenue base of Nigeria.

“I represent an organisation which is probably the largest in corporate Nigeria. We have been recognised over the years by a few awards given to us by FIRS on our compliance and diligence in paying our taxes.

“Unlike many other organisations, we have a physical presence in every single local government in Nigeria, and we impact the lives of almost everyone living in Nigeria.

“Over the years, through various administrations, we have taken pride in always being a partner and ally to the Federal Government and we do so by ensuring that we pay our taxes on time. We will never deliberately avoid taxes.

“We will show every flexibility to support the various initiatives. As MTN Nigeria, we understand the kind of challenges the nation is facing, and we are here to be partners in getting the economy in its right place,” Toriola added

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Interconnect debts: NCC seeks stakeholder input to develop stronger dispute resolution mechanisms

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In a reaction to unending tussles emanating from interconnect debts owed, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has sought the input of stakeholders in developing stronger mechanisms to resolve disputes.

At a public inquiry which began on May 21, 2024, the NCC is considering amendments to the Telecommunications Networks Interconnect Regulations, Guidelines on Procedure for Granting Approval to Disconnect Telecommunications Operators, and Guidelines for Dispute Resolution.

The Commission is plying this route in line with the diplomatic approach of the new Executive Vice Chairman, Aminu Maida who wants to stir the agency to achieve regulatory excellence and build a robust communications sector that supports the Nigerian economy.

Speaking, Maida, emphasised the significance of the public inquiry in ensuring transparency and inclusivity in the regulatory process.

According to him, “These regulatory instruments play a vital role in shaping our communications landscape and it is essential that we visit and refine them to address emerging challenges, trends and opportunities. The instruments that we considered during the course of this public inquiry are vital in ensuring the communications sector meets the demand of the ever-evolving digital age.

“The first Regulatory instrument in our agenda today is Telecommunications Networks Interconnect Regulations. As we all know, interconnection plays a vital role in enabling seamless communication between two different networks, and facilitating the growth of the communications industry in Nigeria. This review is crucial to keep pace with technological advancement, foster competition, protect consumer interest, align with international standards and improve regulatory efficiency in the industry.”

Likewise, Ag. Head Legal & Regulatory Services of NCC, Mrs. Chizua Whyte, said the commission recognises the need for swift adaptation of regulatory instruments to keep pace with the evolving communications industry and emerging technologies.

Whyte emphasised the importance of collaboration with stakeholders in driving significant advancements in the sector.

She noted that the commission values the contributions of stakeholders and looks forward to working together to shape a strong and dynamic industry.

In her words, “As the communications industry evolves with emerging technologies, our regulatory instruments must adapt swiftly. The Commission’s collaborative efforts with stakeholders have driven significant advancements and will continue to propel the sector forward.

“This Public Inquiry underscores our commitment to regulatory excellence and to building a robust communications sector that supports the Nigerian economy. We value your contributions and look forward to shaping a strong, dynamic industry together.”

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Fidelity Bank distributes food packs to families in Keffi

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Leading financial institution; Fidelity Bank PLC has distributed food packs to women, widows, children, and the vulnerable in Keffi, Nasarawa State as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

Addressing journalists in Keffi, Nasarawa state during the distribution event tagged, “Fidelity Food Bank Initiative,” which was carried out in partnership with ABBASID Charity Foundation, the Divisional Head, Brand and Communication Plc, Fidelity Bank, Meksley Nwagboh, emphasised the bank’s commitment to supporting communities all across Nigeria through its Food bank initiative.

“Since April 2023 when we launched the Fidelity Food Bank initiative, we have distributed over 100,000 food packs in more than 100 communities nationwide.

“This is borne out of the premium we place on the wellbeing of our host communities as well as our commitment to support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2 and 3 which speak to Poverty eradication, Zero Hunger and Good Health and Well-Being respectively.”

On her part, the Founder of Abbasid Foundation, Hajia Hauwa Abbas, said the food bank drive started when she was chosen as the bank’s Food Bank partner in the North and listed some of the benefitting states to include Jigawa, Zamfara, Zaria, Kebbi Bauchi, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

‘’I am very pleased with Fidelity Bank because as much as they are doing business with us in our community, they are also giving back to us, especially women.”

The food distribution event also saw Sen. Wadada Ahmed, representing Nasarawa West Senatorial District, leverage the Fidelity Food Bank outreach to provide additional food items to residents of the community.

Senator Ahmed, who was represented by his wife, Zainab Wadada-Ahmed, said the move was in continuation of his philanthropic gesture to his constituents especially for orphans and widows.

‘’We are here today to give back to our people and considering the hardship in the country, this is the little that we can do. I appeal to well-meaning Nigerians to try and collaborate to see how we can help the people that do not have,” she said.

Appreciating the gesture from the bank and her partners, one of the recipients, Mrs. Susan Nyikwagh, urged other well-meaning persons and organisations to take a cue from the bank and come to the aid of the vulnerable ones in the society.

Ranked as one of the best banks in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged customer commercial bank with over 8.5 million customers serviced across its 251 business offices in Nigeria and the United Kingdom as well as on digital banking channels.

The bank has won multiple local and international awards including the Export Finance Bank of the Year at the 2023 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards, the Best Payment Solution Provider Nigeria 2023 and Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking and Finance Awards; Best Bank for SMEs in Nigeria by the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2023; and Best Domestic Private Bank in Nigeria by the Euromoney Global Private Banking Awards 2023.

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FG issues licenses to IIM, certifies Data Protection professionals

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By Matthew Denis

On Monday, The Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) granted a license to the Institute of Information Management (IIM) to administer exams and certify future data protection professionals in the country.

The NDPC National Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Vincent Olatunji handing over the certificate to the institute in Abuja stressed that the move aims to address the significant capacity shortfall of over 500,000 professionals in the data protection field and reduce the expenses associated with obtaining certification overseas.

The Commissioner explained that the initiative will help to generate more jobs in the country and prevent capital flight.

He said, “When we started in 2021 by advertising, four organisations applied within the organisation. We invited them for presentations and we are choosing the best. They have gone through a lot of technical sessions with us, evaluating the platform that they are going to use, discussing with their staff on the process, just to ensure that we have the best for the country.

“What the country stands to gain from this process, is  the fact that we are promoting executive order articles 003 and 005 to promote local content in Nigeria. Most of us who are certified in data protection have international certifications.

“We had to pay in dollars to write exams, and to maintain our certification on a regular basis. So, we are trying to domesticate this in Nigeria to have a national certification process. More importantly, looking at our number in the country and looking at the number of data protection professionals that we are going to produce in the country.

“We are looking at over 500,000, which we cannot afford to allow capital flight in this area. More importantly, with the current technology, we are looking at a way that this process will become a pan-African initiative, whereby data professionals, when they have the national certification process that we have in Nigeria, will be able to practice in any part of Africa.

“So it is a way of creating jobs for our people, a way of reducing capital flights, a way of developing globally competitive human capital data privacy and protection ecosystem. We are also going further to develop the training manual, which is unique to us. And that is why all the trainers in Nigeria will be using it.

“It will also create jobs for both already licensed data protection compliance organisations who will now be accredited to trained professionals that will prepare to write these exams, And looking at the integrity, the pedigree of the organisation that we have chosen, this is really important to us.

“And that is why the process was long. And we are happy that today, we are making history,  a major milestone, and the data privacy protection ecosystem continues. And we are leaving a legacy that is going to be very robust and stand the test of time and that will be comparable or even be better than anyone in any part of the world.”

While responding, President of the Institute, Dr. Oyedokun Oyewole, praised the Commission for enhancing the country’s data protection standards.

He noted that his organisation underwent a rigorous licensing process and pledged to fulfill its responsibilities diligently to the Commission.

“I want to assure the NDPC and the National Commission that we will not disappoint by putting in our best as usual to evolve as the best certification platform for data protection in Africa.

“You can be rest assured that IIM will deliver as promised and  I want to appreciate you for giving us this opportunity, and we hope to continue to work with the commission.”

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