By FELIX OLOYEDE

Confusion and outrage greeted the newly introduced self-certification policy of the Federal government, which requires Nigerians who own accounts in any financial institution in the country to fill a form for income tax purposes.

Most Nigerians have decried the self-certification form as one form too many, having done the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and National Identity Number (NIN), which could service the same purpose.

However, a clarification by Finance Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed stating the policy does affecting all bank accounts holders seems to have doused what would be a massive backlash from the people following unprecedented outcry in the social media over the measure.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, had tweeted from its verified Twitter account, @firsNigeria, “This is to notify the general public that all account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc.) are required to obtain, complete, and submit Self – Certification Forms to their respective Financial Institutions.

“Failure to comply with the requirement to administer or execute this form attracts sanctions which may include monetary penalty or inability to operate the account.”

Managing Director, Maxifund Investments and Securities and former President, President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said the introduction of the self-certification form is an indication that the government is confused.

“It is an abuse of our individual right. Our various rights are being taken through these forms they are asking us to fill. The self-certification form is one form too many. Even when it is done, at a point they will abandon it,” he opined.

He argued that the banks have not showed interest in the self-certification exercise, because the government did not consult them before it was announced.

Prof. Segun Ajibola, former President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, who is a professor of Economics at Babcock University, noted that the detail of the exercise is still hazy, adding that there is need for further clarification.

“This whole issue still revolves around poor identity management in the country. That is why we will continue to run into the problem of duplication of identity management. If we are able to integrate everything that has to do with identity to a single source, we may not need to be duplicating,” he explained.

He said there is apprehension that having done the BVN and National Identity Number, why the self-certification again and there is no time frame for it.

Though the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) which announced the self-certification exercise has apologized that the exercise was not meant for every Nigerian, this has not assuage angry Nigerians who the government is only interested in collecting money from them, which are not used in improving them wellbeing.

The FIRS through its verified Twitter account, @firsNigeria, said: “We apologise for the misleading tweets (now deleted) that went up yesterday, regarding the completion of self-certification forms by Reportable Persons. The message contained in the @firsNigeria Notice does not apply to everybody. FIRS will issue appropriate clarification shortly.”

It explained that reportable persons are often non-residents and other persons who have a residence for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction or country.

“Financial Institutions are expected to administer the Self Certification form on such account holders when the information at its disposal indicates that the Account holder is a person resident for tax purpose in more than one jurisdiction.

“The information that indicates an account holder is a resident for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction is expected to be available to Financial Institutions during the account opening processes for the KYC and AML purpose.”

Mr. Matthew Gbonjuola, Director, Tax Policy, FIRS, explained on national television on Saturday that the self-certification is targeted at people who are taxable abroad who reside in the country and those taxable in Nigeria and abroad.

He explained that the BVN did not capture where people are taxable as it was meant for identification of bank account holders that was why self-certification form was introduced.

Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, Senior Partner, Tax Matters, PwC West Africa, said that though the government was in the way it went about introducing it; he, however, urged Nigerians to embrace the Self-certification exercise, saying the people that are targeted by the exercise are less than 1 per cent of the Nigerian population.

The government has been engaging in aggressive expansion of the country’s tax net it plunged into recession in 2016 with the launch of Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), a nine-month tax amnesty scheme.

The FIRS generated N490 billion in July alone and it raked record about N5 trillion, though it was below the N8.8 trillion it projected to generate this year.

Some reactions of Nigerians to the Self-certification form:

Abbakar M Yahaya from @AbbakarDex said: “Please how’s this different from the other? I must be missing something.

Ayemojubar High-heeled shoe from @ayemojubar:

“Replying @NigeriaGov  and @firsNigeria See the reason why Social Media Bill must never be allowed to pass that @NGRSenate chamber? They would have arrested many of us by now.”

atoG from @egwuatulam: Replying to @NigeriaGov and

@firsNigeria I am thinking these government officials are usually drunk and possibly high on some shit in the evenings, why would the social media handle of the government say A in the morning while another agency says B in the evening.Dont they have a chain of command that reviews all.

Kingsley Orok Smiling face with sunglasses @kboiyanki: Replying to @NigeriaGov and @firsNigeria Fellow Nigerians, see how we all came out in our numbers to taunt & criticize this? I’m sure we did it because it affected our comfort & convenience.

There are so many other government policies we can reverse if we speak in one voice like we did on this aspect. Let’s keep talking

QA @filho_ib: Replying to @NigeriaGov

 @KadariaAhmed  and @firsNigeria

This is not acceptable! Has the person who sent the tweets been suspended or relieved of his/her appointment? Impunity is also corruption you know.

QA @filho_ib Replying to @NigeriaGov @KadariaAhmed  and @firsNigeria

This is not acceptable! Has the person who sent the tweets been suspended or relieved of his/her appointment? Impunity is also corruption you know.