January 27, 2023

Vanguard Awards: Ayodele Subair, the magic wand in Lagos tax revolution

Vanguard Awards: Ayodele Subair, the magic wand in Lagos tax revolution

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

PRIOR to his appointment in 2016 under the administration of the immediate past Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, internally generated revenue, IGR, by the Lagos Internal Revenue Service, LIRS, hovered around N240 billion, but with his astute knowledge and experience in accounting and taxation, the Executive Chairman, Mr. Ayodele Subair, has increased revenue generation to N427 billion, nearly doubling the initial revenue at the start of his tenure.

Born on May 21,1960, Subair holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from the Metropolitan University of Manchester, United Kingdom. He also holds a Masters’ Degree in Business Administration from the University of Lagos. A fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, member of both the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, CITN, and the Business Recovery and Insolvency Practitioners Association of Nigeria, BRIPAN.

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He has over 34 years of working experience, which started with Price Waterhouse Chartered Accountants, before venturing into private practise in 1987 with Hamzat Subair and Co. Chartered Accountants, where he is the Managing Partner. Subair, the pioneering director of the Lagos State Lotteries Board, has worked with various international agencies such as the International Finance Corporation, IFC. In November 2022, Subair was conferred with the Most Innovative Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the Year Award for 2022. Subair was honoured for his landmark strides since he became the LIRS boss, as he was able to implement strategic innovations.

Introduction of eTax

In 2019, Subair led the enterprise tax administration system, a digital and multichannel tax and levies payment solution that captured all aspects of taxation from beginning to the end. The introduction of eTax by the Lagos State Government and LIRS to build convenience into tax payment, increase internally generated revenue while lowering compliance costs, have resulted in a faster turn-around time for tax processes, improved transparency, and increased taxpayer self-service.


In 2022, he championed the state-wide whistleblowing initiative of the Lagos State Government, provided as a channel for employees, stakeholders and the public to report illegal actions, violation, misconduct and unethical behaviours across the state. The Subair-led LIRS emerged as the first agency of the state government to launch the initiative, owing to the agency’s commitment to upholding the highest standards of openness, probity, and accountability in dealings with stakeholders.

IBILE HUB Initiative

Given the difficulties in bringing the informal sector into the tax net, in 2021, the Subair-led administration launched the IBILE Hub initiative. This was designed to improve and simplify data and tax collection from the informal sector in Lagos State. LIRS has subsequently increased state revenue collection via the Ibile Hub platform by approximately 233 per cent, as of August 2022. Ibile Hub is a comprehensive framework for managing IGR collection across the state five administrative divisions. One of Subair’s goals was to streamline informal sector processes and automate tax operations in that sector.

Joint State Revenue C’ttee, ISRC

Subair was picked to lead a seven-member committee charged with putting decisions made by the state’s Joint Tax Board into action and making tax administration’ more efficient. Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, appointed him in 2021 as the man to lead the team to streamline all state revenue for an efficient and transparent financial system. He drafted policies and ideas to ensure Lagos State’s relevance as the nation’s leading IGR state.

Operational reforms

Subair established an Intelligence Unit-a team of undercover administrators specially trained in information gathering and intelligence reports to provide information on all taxpayers in the state and to ensure that the agency has adequate information for appropriate profiling to expose tax defaulters and that it has accurate data on them for effective management in order to broaden the tax net and ensure optimum voluntary compliance by all taxable persons in the state.

LIRS Service Charter

At the very heart of LIRS boss’ objectives is effective service delivery to stakeholders in the state. He introduced drastic operational reforms to ensure service delivery met the highest standards. Subair launched the LIRS service charter on August 3, 2021, which has been progressive and increased the sense of accountability and respect for services rendered across the agency. The significant shift in LIRS delivery has resulted in an outstanding performance and increased revenue generation, Subair’s LIRS was named the Lagos State Service Charter’s Most Supportive Agency for the Service Charter Initiative in 2022.

Automation of collection of consumption taxes

LIRS became a digital tax administration agency with Subair incorporating technology into nearly all of its processes. Aside from eTax, and IHILE Hub, he also conceptualized automated compliance with hotels, event centres, hotel facilities and restaurants (as guided by the Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption Tax Law) to prevent non-compliance, track, and monitor payments, while increasing revenue generated from the hospitality sector in the state. From 2016 till present, the LIRS has collected 60 per cent more taxes from the Lagos hospitality sector. Total revenue from consumption taxes stood at N5757.305.751.42bn as of mid-2022.

LIRS is the first state internal revenue service to conceptualize the idea of automating consumption collection in Nigeria.

Highest revenue generated amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic presented one of the toughest times for governments, companies and individuals globally. The pandemic led to a swift plunge in income and stalled economic activities, with mar governments badly affected.

As the pandemic arose in the first quarter towards the middle of March, The management team in its usual proactive way had to strategize as it had envisioned that there will a lockdown at some point considering the rate the vines were spreading around the world. The management instituted a business continuity plan that required remote work. Subair and his team raked in N357 billion in tax revenue. The highest revenue generated by any state’s Internal Revenue Service during a global pandemic.