Leadership is critical in government, but government is a team work. The level of transformation taking place in Akwa Ibom State today could not have been a surprise to all those who know about the determination of the visionary and focused governor of the state, His Excellency, Udom Emmanuel to revitalize the economy of the state, notwithstanding allocation from the Federation Account.
While understanding the need to ensure balance in choosing his team, the Governor placed emphasis on competence, experience and the passion to serve as priority for appointing the men and women needed to drive his vision for the state. In his pursuance of his patriotic desire of delivering on its social contract with the citizens, Okon Okon was appointed as the Pioneer Executive Chairman of the autonomous Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service, AKIRS on March 23, 2017. Working in line with Governor Udom’s administration’s vision, the pragmatic and experienced man at the helm of affairs has put policies in place that are driving the committed Board Management and Staff of the Revenue Management organization towards the achievement of a rapid transformation of the Internally Generated Revenue profile of the state.
Bringing on board a banking experience that had spanned almost three decades, the Economics graduate from the then University of Cross River State (now University of Uyo) whose knowledge and competence have been built by the several courses he had attended over the years at many reputable business schools across the world. The alumnus of Harvard, Wharton, Columbia and Lagos Business Schools, who has also bagged a Masters degree in Economics and an MBA at the University of Lagos is a fellow of the Institute of Credit Administration, a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria and of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.
Endowed with a good sense of executive judgment and a disciplined character, the Pioneer Managing Director of Omega Bank Savings and Loans and a former General Manager at Wema Bank has recorded an impressive performance within the short period has been piloting the affairs of AKIRS. Leading a five-man Board, Okon has put in place a strong and administrative structures which have strengthened the revenue generation structure of Akwa Ibom State, thus providing increase funding for the execution of the laudable projects and policies of the state governor.
Focused on the actualization of AKIRS’ mandates, the service has launched the Revenue and Institution Transformation Agenda (REVITA) which has taken effect from January 1, 2018. Expectedly, robust Agenda has already brought about a paradigm shift in the business approach from the conventional bureaucratic model to an enterprise model.
Speaking on the impact of REVITA on the tax administration and management in the state, he said: “REVITA is already transforming the revenue profile of this state, the total IGR for the QI of 2018 is more than 50 percent above that of the corresponding period of 2017. The service was able to achieve this because our tax education and awareness have been on the increase. We have also been able to widen the tax net and all forms of leakages are being blocked. We have placed premium on continuous review of our processes and procedures in order to perform our functions with improved efficiency. The automation of revenue collection and tax administration has made it easier for the service to achieve these. All these have improved on the level of voluntary compliance by tax payers in this state, and for the defaulters, the service has strengthen her enforcement, audit and investigation units so that what is due to be pay as taxes to the state is paid through the appropriate channels”.
“Even beyond our diligent implementation of the Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel has continued to judiciously put the tax payers’ money to use through his administration’s massive infrastructure development. The state government paid the WAEC fees for public schools students and Governor Udom is also diversifying the economy of the state by investing more in the agricultural sector. The salaries of workers and pensioners are being paid promptly. These have boost the tax-payers confidence and helped to increase voluntary compliance.” He added.
Sharing his vision for AKRIS, the state tax administrator said, “My vision is in line with the visionary vision of our State Governor. On the part of the service, we are committed to increasing the IGR of this state by making use of the available administrative and human resources to efficiently assess, collect and account for revenue and taxes due to the state government.”
The mission is clear and the task is challenging, but Okon Okon has shown that he has what it takes to effectively drive AKIRS towards the actualization of its mandates.
Advising tax payers in the state, he said “Governor Udom is passionately committed to the development of the state, but he need the people to support him by doing their constitutional obligation of paying taxes.