By Wilson Osemele
The Executive Chairman, Delta State Board of Internal Revenue (DBIR), Sir Monday John Onyeme, is a man of excellent character, a chartered accountant par excellence, a scholar and an accomplished tax administrator who is highly regarded as a thoroughbred professional. He is an intellectual luminary and large-hearted philanthropist whose remarkable strides, in terms of drive towards greater revenue generation at the DBIR deserves commendation.
The story of Onyeme entails an uncommon expedition into a world of professional excellence as his impressive credentials bear eloquent testimony to a man who was found worthy to be considered for appointment by His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, as the Executive Chairman of the Delta State Board of Internal Revenue.
Onyeme, a man with rich record of working experience and whose sterling qualities have become so towering to be ignored as he continues strive to serve the state, especially with his commitment toward the Smart Agenda of the Okowa administration’s Greater Delta mantra.
He was an Assistant Chief Accountant (Head, Finance and Supplies) at the National Agriculture Land Development Authority, Asaba between July 1996 and October 2000 and was Chief Accountant at Octopus Continental Enterprises, Lagos, between July 1995 and June 1996.
He also worked in the banking industry between September 1993 and June 1995, where he was the Senior Executive Assistant (Audit) at Commercial Trust Bank, Lagos as well as in the audit department of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) at its Lagos Office between February 1992 and August 1993.
Onyeme also contributed briefly to the academic world as an Assistant Lecturer, Federal Polytechnic, Kaura Namoda, Zamfara State from October 1991 to January 1992.
Also in his professional practice, Onyeme worked as the Bursar of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba between November 2005 and September 2006. While at the institution, he ensured that the handling of the finances was in safe hands under his charge as Chief Accountant, a position he held between October 2000 and November 2005.
Before his appointment as the Executive Chairman, DBIR in 30th September, 2015, Onyeme was the Bursar of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), a position and responsibility he faithfully discharged following his appointment in September 2006.
When he resumed duty as the Executive Chairman of the DBIR on 30th September, 2015, the first thing he did was to organize a strategic retreat at the Songhai Delta, Amukpe-Sapele, to prepare his team for the task ahead. Although, the task seemed overwhelming at the beginning, Onyeme has been able to bring to bear his over 25 years experience as an accountant of high repute to redesign and revamp towards the economic need of the Delta State Government.
He organized the “Day of Glamour and Civic Responsibility” in Asaba to create greater awareness on citizens’ responsibility to pay tax, in conjunction with the entertainment industry in Asaba and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS); thus strengthening relationship with the growing entertainment industry in Asaba with a view to engendering greater tax compliance.
When oil prices plummeted to the lowest level, regular allocation to states from the Federation Account nosedived as the nation experienced recession; and, the combination of accountability and transparency which Onyeme brought to bear on the system, repositioned the board towards increased revenue to support the SMART Agenda of the Okowa government.
During the thickly disturbing era of recession, Onyeme was at all times up and doing, looking deeply inward, developing productive strategies, monitoring the effects of the recession and the possibilities of obeying the tax laws by taxpayers. Indeed, he strengthened collaboration with tax and revenue stakeholders – formal, informal, individual and corporate tax payers in the state – towards maximum or total tax compliance as well as easy and convenient tax payment and collection systems.
So far, he has performed exceedingly well and in keeping with his character of strict accountability and transparency in leadership. He has recorded huge successes. In boosting the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state, despite the fact that he has set new records in revenue generation since the existence of the board, Onyeme’s humble lifestyle depicts him as someone driven by the belief that there is much more remains to be done.
According to Onyeme, taxation remains the key to democratic sustainability and impactful economic development, which he maintains is in line with the Smart/Stronger Delta Agenda of Okowa administration. He maintained that Increasing IGR is undoubtedly the way forward for government to chest the financial implications of projects that are beneficial to the people. He encouraged Deltans to support the Delta State Government by paying their taxes regularly in order for infrastructural development to continually reach all nooks and crannies of the state.
His continuity in office for second tenure as Chairman, Delta State Board of Internal Revenue, did not come as a surprise to many Deltans, considering his uncommon, milestone achievements particularly regarding revenue generation, policies and programme implementation by Sir Monday John Onyeme; all geared towards consolidating the revenue generation capacity of the state government through an efficient tax collection regime.
Having proved his mettle in revenue generation in his first term, Governor Okowa, in his wisdom and magnanimity, decided not to change the winning DBIR team led by Sir Monday John Onyeme.
Moreover, he has collaborated with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) on motor vehicle licensing, driver’s licence and revenue-related matters as well as security agencies and associated bodies in recognition of security as a prerequisite for growth of businesses and industries. He has also embarked on a tough compliance exercise on tax evaders and defaulters in various establishments, individual and corporate bodies across the state.
Sir Monday John Onyeme has obviously expanded the state tax net, blocked leakages and proved that the state can realize its taxes by raking in needed revenue to help drive the present Stronger Delta Agenda of the Okowa administration.
As the state, the nation and the world at large are faced with the present COVID-19 pandemic that has eaten deep into the fabrics of the global economy, the board under the leadership of Sir Onyeme, whose efforts are to allow individuals and organisations to commence full business activities after the compulsory lockdown, and to cushion the effects of the novel Coronavirus on businesses, has doled out palliatives to private primary and secondary schools, eateries and hotels in respect to penalties and interest from 2010 to 2019 and has also extended the deadline for the filing of annual tax returns (employees and self employed persons) for the year 2020 from 31st March to 30th June 2020.
Sir Monday John Onyeme, a scholar and tax administrator, has showcased capacity and demonstrated readiness to ensure continuous increase of the Internally Generated Revenue. He has beamed the revenue searchlights on trucks, boats, haulage, oil and gas, and marine-related businesses for an optimal increase of the Internally Generated Revenue of the state.
Onyeme’s wealth of experience and vast understanding of new and contemporary frontiers of economic opportunities in terms of wealth creation, knowledge economy, and revenue generation has translated into huge tax dividends to leapfrog Delta State into an emerging high-growth economy as enshrined in the Stronger Delta Agenda of the Okowa administration.
The Okowa government has done well towards putting taxation in its proper place in our state economy, which are visible in the eyes of Deltans. The Delta State Board of Internal Revenue under the leadership of Sir Onyeme has embraced a productive pathway that will be unveiled soon for an Optimal Increase of the State IGR. Indeed, the Onyeme leadership as Chairman Delta State Board of Internal has recorded, and still recording, tremendous successes in IGR generation and the citizens have an obligation to support and encourage the DBIR.