The deputy publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank has asked that Dr. William Babatunde Fowler step aside and clear issues surrounding his appointment as the Executive Chairman of the Board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
Fowler was on Thursday, August 20, 2015, announced as FIRS chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina. Fowler assumed duties five days later without Senate’s confirmation.
“For Fowler to take over office without the approval of the Senate portrays him as either ignorant of the law, or where that is not the case, acting with impunity. Let us look at the FIRS Act before one is accused of crying wolf where none exists. Section 3(2a) of the FIRS Establishment Act, 2007, states that: “the Executive Chairman of the Service is to be appointed by the President and subject to the confirmation of the Senate”,” Frank wrote in a recent column published by Per Second News.
“Where does Fowler derive his authority with which he now presides over the Board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)? He has since assumed office and and carrying out the duties of the office. Do we let him go in view of the present financial quagmire in the country? I don’t think we should be swayed by arguments that we have gotten a czar to dress our financial wounds. It is like a poor man whose daughter had the fortune to marry a wealthy merchant. Despite such crippling poverty, the suitor must first comply with all necessary traditions and customs regulating marriage. He must first pay the bride price. The poor man cannot give out his daughter pro bono just because a wealthy suitor is in the bargain. The bride price is mandatory. In this case the law must be followed.
“Undoubtedly, Fowler knows the law. He is a man of great learning. However, he has chosen rather to bend the rules for his immediate gain. His showing so far since assumption of office doesn’t not collocate with the present change agenda, where the rule of law and due process are priced above rubies. The job has has been assigned requires the strict application of applicable laws. The organization he now heads was established according to law. These laws were made by the National Assembly for which the Senate is an integral part. Not submitting self to the scrutiny of the senate before resumption is not only a breach of the constitution but a direct slap on the 109 members of the Senate who he has contemptuously regarded by assuming office before clearance.”
Frank also berated the Executive for not calling Fowler to order. He describe the action as “a complicity that unwittingly undermines or usurps the powers of the National Assembly, especially the Senate.”
Frank, therefore, called on Fowler to step aside and wait to be screened and confirmed by the Senate as stipulated by law.
“Should he fail to do this I will be compelled to seek judicial remedy against this rape on our democracy and extant laws. Even though our nation is currently in dire straits financially and revenue from taxes are urgently required to complement oil earnings, that is not to say that the laws of land should be sacrificed on the altar of economic expediency. Let Fowler fulfill the law before administering the law. As far as Nigerians are concerned, all his actions since he illegally assumed office are not only null and void but actionable. For this, I shall go to court whether Fowler is cleared or rejected by the Senate. He has violated the Constitution and he knows that. Let him step aside to prove to Nigerians that his assumption of office in such flagrant manner was done inadvertently. To continue to cling to the office and expect the Senate to forgive him his sins would amount to grave impunity.”
Frank also warns the Senate against setting a bad precedence by just rubber stamping the appointment of a man that took over the reins at FIRS without due approval.
The APC Deputy Publicity Secretary listed other such appointments made by President Buhari. The appointees include Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Engr. Prof. Umaru Garba Danbatta, Managing Director, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Ahmed Lawan Kuru, Kola Ayeye, Eberechukwu Fortunate Uneze and Aminu Ismail – all Executive Directors of AMCON.
“Also named is the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on acting capacity. The institution of the Senate must be respected. We cannot compromise and undermine it and expect that things will remain the same,” he wrote.
Frank also restated his call for Fowler to resolve all issues concerning his alleged bogus Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree having been awarded to him by an unrecognized and unaccredited University in the UK, stressing “To whom much is given much is also expected.”
“Let Fowler talk now, otherwise, let PMB probe the allegations in the interest of this country. Need we go about with a lamps in search of honest men to take his place? ….Those who come to equity must come with clean hands.”