The Executive Chairman of the Kwara State Inland Revenue Service (KWIRS), Dr Muritala Awodun, has enjoined Nigerian universities to refrain from operating a closed economy but tap into wider areas of opportunities available in the industry and the larger society. 

Dr Awodun, who gave the advice penultimate Wednesday (February 21, 2018) when he led some senior officials of the establishment on a visit to the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies (CPSS), University of Ilorin, said, “If universities begin to do this, they may not even need funding from government again to survive because they would have gone into relationships that will have been very profitable and adequate to fund their projects”.

He said, “We operate a closed economy and it is killing the universities”, pointing out that this was “because the government is still funding these universities…I believe that the university should not operate exclusively…it is the university itself that will have to stretch out to the town and begin to do things with the town.”

Dr. Awodun advised the universities to start asking questions like “in our area, what are the opportunities there? We have engineering…how are we interfacing with the industry where we can actually make billions of naira?”

Lamenting that universities conduct researches that only end in journal publications, the tax chief pointed out that universities “don't consciously make investments in industry”. 

He said that “tertiary education will never be the priority of government when things are very tight…”, adding that “so, universities have to sit down and translate all these our researches into realities that can impact positively on the society. We should start to think, for instance, of what can the University of Ilorin do for Kwara State, not what Kwara State can do for the University of Ilorin…”

Dr. Awodun also identified lack of commitment and low productivity as the bane of civil service in the country just as he tasked civil servants to be more productive and efficient in the discharge of their responsibilities. 

Pointing out that a major challenge confronting Nigeria is lack of productivity, Dr. Awodun noted that a country's ability to develop its economy is dependent on the efficiency and productivity of its workforce. 

He said, “What we are doing in KWIRS is to build a new army of public servants because our people are not thinking like civil servants; they are thinking like private sector people. They know that they have assignments and targets and those targets must be accomplished and if it is accomplished, they are commended …”

According to Dr. Awodun, “responsibility and accountability are things that you can't run away from; people should not just sleep, collect salary and go home; they are even destroying their lives without them knowing”.

He said that Nigerians must “begin to think of how to change that mentality because everywhere you go, you see thousands and thousands of civil servants engaged by the states, local governments and even federal, more than half of them are doing nothing, they are just counting days, and they say I have ten or twenty years of experience…”

Dr. Awodun said, “I discover that those experiences count for nothing, and the only way they discover is when they retire and they can't do anything. Give them retirement benefits ten, twenty million… after six months, the money is gone because they don't know how to do anything because in the service, they really were not doing anything…they were not learning anything, they were just accumulating years…

“All these things are very important because that is why our productivity is extremely low; people are not ready to add value, people are just eager to make money and the more of this crusade that we carry out through Centres like this, through collaborations …we are open to all forms of collaborations that will make our societies better because we have a contribution to make while we are still on mother earth”.

Dr Awodun pointed out that his organisation was committed to adding value to the development of Kwara State which was why the revenue service had intervened in the areas of education, environment and entrepreneurship opportunities, amongst others. 

Earlier in his remarks, the Director of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, Prof. Noah Yusuf, stated that the KWIRS team's visit offered an opportunity for collaboration between the Centre and the State tax body. 

Prof. Yusuf said, “While we may not be collecting taxes”, there are areas for collaboration and synergy in terms of peace building and security management, adding that “we believe that tax payment could be used to engender national peace and prosperity.”

The CPSS Director, who highlighted the history of the establishment, academic programmes and achievements of the Centre since its inception ten years ago, disclosed that the Centre had existing Memorandum of Understanding with elite security agencies like the Nigerian Army and the Department of State Security Services, adding that the Centre had, to a large extent, fulfilled the mission and vision for which it was founded, which is, facilitating peace and security towards reducing conflicts in the society. 

Joining the CPSS Director to welcome the KWIRS team were the Deputy Registrar and Secretary of the Centre, Dr. (Mrs.) F.M. Olowoleni, lecturers and students of the Centre.