Is FIRS statement on ‘self-certification’ intentional or an attempt to pass a message?

Having sent Nigerians into a dilemma, who asked why they need to be ‘self-certified’ after all the other measures taken for data collection, the Federal Government has apologised for the misleading tweets (now deleted) it posted concerning the completion of the self-certification forms.

It started Thursday, September 17, 2020, when Nigerians were going about the hardship the government has already put everyone in, when the FG issued a notice on its Twitter page in a series of tweets, ordering all account holders across financial institutions in Nigeria to fill and submit Self-certification forms in line with the income tax regulation 2019; with a warning that failure to comply will attract sanctions which may include monetary penalty or the inability to operate one’s account.

The Thursday notice reads: “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.

According to FG, the self-certification form falls under 3 categories:

– Form for Entity

– For Controlling Person (Individuals having controlling interest in a legal person, trustee, etc)

– Form for individual

After hours of outcry that the exercise is counter-productive, unnecessary and will further enable the spread of an already disappearing COVID-19, they tendered an apology: “We apologise for the misleading tweets (now deleted) that went up yesterday, regarding the completion of self-certification forms by Reportable Persons. The message contained in the @firsNigeria Notice does not apply to everybody. FIRS will issue appropriate clarification shortly.”

On a closer look, one can easily spot the similarities between FG’s supposed miscommunication on Thursday and the corrected notice on Friday because both notices are basically communicating the same message. The only difference is that the update states that the self-certification exercise does not apply to everybody.

What exactly is FIRS trying to achieve? The much we know about the exercise is that the primary objective is to improve transparency in Nigeria’s tax system and boost the anti-corruption drive of the Government as stated in the notice.

Here’s how Nigerians are reacting to the new development:

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