People & Money

Nigerians Outraged As Government Directs Citizens To Submit Financial Details in New “Self-Certification” Form

While many Nigerians are still battling with the collection of their national identity cards, largely due to poor logistics, the Federal Government has introduced yet another data collection initiative.
The government on Thursday directed account holders in financial institutions across the country to complete a new “self-certification” form.

The announcement was made Thursday via the Federal Government’s verified handle, @NigeriaGov.

In numerous tweets Thursday, the government said the new forms must be obtained, completed, and submitted by all account holders in financial institutions like banks, insurance companies, and others.

Details collected from the form would enable financial institutions in Nigeria carry out due diligence in line with tax regulations, it said.

“This is to notify the general public that all account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc) are required to obtain, complete and submit Self – Certification Forms to their respective Financial Institutions,” the tweet said.

“Persons holding accounts in different financial institutions is (sic) required to complete & submit the form to each one of the institutions. The forms are required by the relevant financial institutions to carry out due diligence procedures in line with the Income Tax Regulations.

“The self-certification form is in 3 categories: – Form for Entity – For Controlling Person (Individuals having controlling interest in a legal person, trustee, etc) – Form for individual.”

The government said “failure to comply with the requirement to administer or execute this form attracts sanctions which may include monetary penalty or inability to operate the account.”

However, Nigerians took to Twitter Thursday to express their anger over the new policy.

A former presidential spokesperson, Olusegun Adeniyi, said: “BVN. Driver’s license. National ID card. INEC registration. International passport. Biometrics were taken in all these places. So, what is the meaning of this?”

Debo Akintoye, a commentator, wrote: “This is 21st century for goodness sake. What joy do this administration derive from stressing the populace. This administration is truly the worst. You’re so bent on making life miserable for us.”

J.J Omojuwa, a Twitter user, wrote: “Na you do National ID card, na you do SIM registration, you even did Bank Verification Number to align accounts but you are here again talking “Self-Certification. Even if you are confused about running government, can you at least pretend not to be confused?”

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Damilola Samuel, another Twitter user noted that “After a whole year that I applied for my National ID card, I still haven’t received it lol. Only God knows how long it would take to get the BVN 2.0.”

In Context:

From the announcement made by the government Thursday, the new initiative may be geared towards tax collection and verification.

For instance, in its announcement, the government directed citizens seeking clarification to approach the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for details.

At about 6 percent, Nigeria’s tax-to-GDP ratio is considered one of the lowest in the world. Taxes are largelt lost to tax evasion, poor collection methods, and official corruption especially in the informal sector.

In 2017, a former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, lamented the rate of compliance to tax payments among Nigerians.

“Prosperous nations have high levels of tax compliance whilst poor nations have low rates. Nigeria aspires to be a prosperous nation, so this problem must be solved,” she said.

Data shows that only 19 million pay various taxes out of 70 million eligible Nigerians, supporting a population of 193 million.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo once disclosed that only 214 individuals paid over N20 million in annual PITs, citing Federal Inland Revenue Service figures.

To encourage compliance, the Nigerian Government has introduced a number of initiatives in the past, including the VAIDS.

The new initiative is however considered “needless” since details required for such update may be obtained from numerous biometric data capturing sources already in existence, notably the BVN.

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