Motivational Personality of the Week- Babatunde William Fowler
Babatunde Fowler is the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Chairman of Joint Tax Board (JTB) Nigeria, the Council Chairperson of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), the 1st Vice Chairman of the United Nations’ Tax Committee of Experts and the former Executive Chairman Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue/ Chief Executive Officer, Lagos State Internal Revenue Service.
- Babatunde Fowler was born on 12 August 1956 to the family of Professor (Dr) and (Chief) Mrs. W.V. Fowler both of Lagos State.
- He attended Igbobi College in Lagos and studied in the United States of America at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a minor in Political Science in 1978. He completed a second bachelor’s degree program at California State University, Los Angeles and also a Master of Business Administration degree program at California State University, Dominguez Hills in 1981.
- He started out as a Marketing Intern with Avon Products Inc. New York working under the Vice President in charge of Africa. Later on, he was employed by Johnson and Johnson in New Jersey USA, under the MBA International Development Program lasting one year, thereafter he was transferred to join Johnson and Johnson Nigeria between September 1982 and September 1983.
- He made a career change from International Finance and Marketing to Banking in January 1984. In the banking industry he had the opportunity to work and also head broad and varied areas of banking operations and business development in 2 major commercial banks over the next 20 years.
- He joined Commercial Bank (Credit Lyonnais Nigeria Limited) in January 1984, where he was exposed to all aspects of International Banking, Risk Management, and Clearing Operations. Positive reforms were introduced by him as the treasurer of the bank and was a foundation member and trustee of the now Money Market Association of Nigeria. His banking experience at Commercial Bank (Credit Lyonnais Nigeria Limited) came to conclusion with his last appointment as the Apapa Branch Manager, the first branch of the bank outside the head office.
- He left Commercial Bank in March 1990 to join Chartered Bank in April 1990 as a Senior Manager where he spent the last 14 years in the banking industry. His initial posting was as Head of Branch Network during which he successfully grew the bank’s branches from 2 to 11 branches spread over the country within the first 5 years. He was also in charge of revenue collections for both State and Federal agencies, which he grew, placing the bank amongst the top 3 banks in all collections. He was able to prove himself as a seasoned banker and administrator until he left the organization as a General Manager in March 2004.
- Upon leaving the banking industry in 2004, Fowler joined the Lagos State Government and was appointed permanent secretary/executive chairman of the Lagos State board of internal revenue on November 24, 2005, thereby upgrading the office of the executive chairman to the highest level in the civil service.
- The Board of internal revenue became autonomous and self-accounting with the passage into law in January 2006 of the Lagos State Revenue Administration Law (The first Revenue Board to become autonomous in Nigeria) and Fowler was appointed as the first CEO of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service and executive chairman of the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue.
- During his tenure, the new Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue achieved the following: A sharp increase in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from an average of N 3.6 Billion per month in January 2006 to an average of over N20.5 Billion per month in 2014, improved quality of service delivery to taxpayers, improvement in the use of IT and other modern methods of tax administration, an enlightenment campaign on tax administration and education in Africa. These reforms have made Lagos State the only state in the Federal Republic of Nigeria that is financially independent of the monthly financial allocation of revenue from the federation account and also the only state that generates internally more revenue than the monthly allocation from the federation account. The state is operational to scale its operations to the exploding population presently put at over 20 million.
- Fowler has remained a vocal voice against Nigeria’s over-dependence on oil revenue. Since September 2015 when he took over the Chairmanship of the FIRS, several new reforms and initiatives have been launched to enhance tax administration and non-oil revenues from tax. Some of these reforms include: tax amnesty programs, e-tax services/ solutions, tax sensitization campaigns and staff trainings/ reforms at the FIRS.
- Fowler has also received several international and local awards. He is married to Mrs. Rosemary Fowler and they have a good family.