By Omoh Gabriel
Vanguard Editors at their annual meeting on the Man of the year award had heated debate on the nominees for the award. The name Ifueko Omoigui Okauru came up, and with passion, Mrs Fumi Komolafe stood her ground for the women folk.
Why are you men always nominating men for the man of the year award, are you saying there is no woman in Nigeria that has made meaniful contributions to the development of Nigeria, a woman must be on the list of those to be considered. The conference room was silent for a while but the intervention of the Editor broke the silence, Okey you nominate.
Without hesitation the name Ifueko Omoigui Okauru came. Her profile and record achievement immediately justified Fumiâ€™s argument and after the debate she came third on the list of those considered for man of the year after beating several men to it.
Mrs Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru is the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service of Nigeria. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, and Member of the Order of the Niger, MON, Ifueko is currently the Chairman of the Federal Board of Inland Revenue and Chairman of the Joint Tax Board, a position she assumed with effect from May 3, 2004. She is by virtue of these positions, a member of the Presidentâ€™s Economic Management Team charged with the responsibility for driving Tax Reform as part of Governmentâ€™s overall Economic Reform Agenda.
Since her appointment, Ifueko has championed tax reform at both Federal and State levels. Prior to this appointment, Ifueko was Chief Responsibility (Executive) Officer of ReStraL Ltd., a foremost leadership and management services company, which she founded in 1996. Before that she was a Partner in the erstwhile firm of Arthur Andersen and Co., now spilt into KPMG Professional Services and Accenture.
She made significant contributions in the public arena by leading the technical team for the Vision 2010, Nigeriaâ€™s effort at developing a long_term strategic plan, the first of its kind in the country. Ifueko also actively participated in the activities of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group as well as providing support to high level policy development in the country at various times.
She is an active participant in community developments and also a board member of several non_governmental organisations. Last year after a long delay and suspense, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Mrs. Ifueko Marina Omoigui Okauru as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, for a fresh four_year term.
Her nomination and screening were not without the usual political intricacies, but her competence, experiences and achievements she recorded in her first tenure stood for her.
During the confirmation at the Senate, there was no dissenting motion when Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Alhaji Ahmed Maikarfi, moved that the nomination of Omoigui_Okauru as FIRS Executive Chairman by President Umar Musa Yarâ€™ adua be confirmed by the Senate.
Senator Bob Effiong seconded Maikarfiâ€™s motion. The Senate in the committee of the whole ratified her appointment. Though over half a dozen senators commented on the sterling performance of the FIRS Chairman in the last four years, while a few admonished her to straighten out carping about appointment spread, no member of the upper chambers stood against her nomination. Nominated shortly before former President Olusegun Obasanjo left office in May last year, the last Senate asked their incoming colleagues to exercise their judgment in coming to a decision on Omoigui-Okauru.
President Yarâ€™ adua re-nominated her as FIRS Executive Chairman in June last year. The Senate referred the nomination to its finance committee on September 11, last year. Presenting the finance committee report to the Senate, Maikarfi noted that having perused Omoigui Okauruâ€™s professional, technocratic and academic records, the finance committee also took steps to verify the records as well as the veracity of the petitions filed against her. â€œThis was despite the fact that some of the petitions were in abeyance of Senate Rule 41 that unsigned petitions should not be entertainedâ€, Maikarfi said.
Though Ifueko Omoigui could have stepped on toes, Maikarfi stated that the committee found no reason not to recommend her for confirmation by the Senate.
Mrs Omoigui has a strong academic and professional cum consulting background. Her academic successes include a first class degree in Accounting from the University of Lagos and a Master of Science degree in Management science from Imperial College at the University of London. She was for many years with Arthur Andersen
Mrs. Ifueko M. Omoigui was the Chief Responsibility Officer and Founder of ReStraL Consulting where she works with a team of excellent professionals to provide in-depth solutions to clients.
Mrs. Omoigui-Okauru has distinguished herself in all that she has chosen to do from her primary school days to date. A winner of different prizes through primary and secondary school, her very distinguished academic record culminated in her graduating from the University of Lagos in 1983 where she was a Gulf Oil, now Chevron, scholar, with a first class degree in accounting, the best graduating student in the faculty and valedictorian of the graduating class.
She passed her professional accounting exams (ICAN) as a prize-winner in 1984 and obtained a Master of Science degree in Management Science from the Imperial College, University of London as a Commonwealth scholar in 1986. Mrs. Omogui-Okauruâ€™s professional career commenced very briefly with the firm of Akintola Williams & Co. in 1983, proceeding to spend her formative years- about 12 years-with the firms of Arthur Andersen (now Andersen) and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) – working at various times in the Audit, Tax and Management Consulting divisions, proffering management and business solutions and supporting the growth and development of organisations in a variety of sectors.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki Moon, recently appointed Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui Okauru, as a member of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters. The four year appointment, which is on a part-time basis (requiring attendance in a 5-day meeting once a year), was conveyed in a letter dated 20th August 2009, and signed by the UN Under Secretary General Sha Zukang.
As Executive Chairman of the FIRS, she has since 2004 been leading a quiet revolution in Nigeriaâ€™s tax reforms. Within the period, FIRS under her leadership has consistently exceeded its tax collection targets through active deployment of ICT, capacity building, emphasis on professionalism and enhanced staff welfare programmes. Mrs Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru brings to this appointment experience in many other international assignments from the World Bank, United Nations Development Fund UNDP, earlier UN tax assignments and several international conferences.
In the last five years, she has been engaged in negotiations and agreements in tax issues among which areÂ the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) and tax treaties with South Korea, Spain, Russia and other countries.
She is married to Mr. Asishana Okauru