The Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS has launched three denominations of commemorative postage stamps, as it continues to underscore the importance of taxation to national development.
The Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Lawal Ngama, who launched the stamps yesterday on Abuja, noted that the advent of face book, twitter and SMS (Short Message Service) and the young generation’s preference for the abbreviated words, was partly responsible for most students’ inability to use correct spellings in English language.
Ngama made the observation at the formal launch and unveiling of the commemorative postage stamps and advised that urgent steps must be taken to reverse the ugly trends.
“Today our children cannot spell anything correctly. When they want to write LIKE, they write LYK. When they want to write LOVE its LUV. If we continue that way, I don’t know how they will pass English language. We really have to go back to the good old days and teach them how to write letters. Because they don’t write letters, they cannot collect stamp, so we really have to teach them how to write.
“Traditionally, if somebody writes a congratulatory letter to you and writes your name in his own handwriting, it shows respect for you.
“So when you write that letter, you put a stamp on it. As we launch stamp today, with messages of tax on it, let us look at tax as a way of developing this country, because it provides sustainable revenue. Let me therefore congratulate the FIRS and its partner in this project, the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) on their successful collaborative efforts that have culminated in the historic launching of the first ever FIRS commemorative stamps in the history of our nation, Nigeria,’’ he said.
Ngama said the occasion provided another opportunity to spread the message of taxation and that taxation holds the key to future development of the nation.
Ngama added “As we know taxation is a sustainable source of revenue and one, which if we properly maximize will enable Nigeria achieve its developmental goals.
So as we launch this stamps today, let us not see what we are doing here as merely symbolic, but rather as another step in the reform of our tax system, in which we are all stakeholders and partners.’’
Earlier, the FIRS Executive Chairman, Ifueko Omoigui Okauru, explained that the idea of introducing stamps to convey tax messages for the enlightenment of the tax paying public was conceived in 2009 by three staff of the Service: Tunde Oladapo, Olumide Odesanya and Francis Oliver.
She said that the objectives included the promotion of tax advocacy, general enlightenment on tax matters and the benefits of paying taxes as well as enhanced image and mileage for FIRS.
Okauru said “Following a detailed analysis, Management subsequently welcome and approved the proposal, which was presented to NIPOST for a possible buy-in. A great deal of collaborative efforts resulted in FIRS designing the stamps while NIPOST assumed the responsibility of producing them.’’
She said the Service had evolved well structured taxpayers education initiatives in order to make Nigerians willingly comply with tax obligations, saying “These include the endowment of professorial chairs on taxation in Nigerian Universities and Students Tax Advocacy Initiatives (STAI).
The commemorative stamps which are available in N20, N50 and N100 denominations, to the postal service-using public, philatelists, legal practitioners, business enterprises among others remains another step by FIRS to deepen tax culture in Nigeria.
Historically, postage stamps in Nigeria started in 1859 with the introduction of hand-struck with the inscription “paid in Lagos’’ and adhesive postage stamps were first introduced on June 10, 1874.
Communications Minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson represented by the Post Master General, Mallam Ibrahim Mori Baba, noted that throughout the world, postage stamps are used to portray a country’s heritage, tourists centres, regional and global cooperation and values. Thus the postage stamp is a roving ambassador, penetrating many households around the world without border or immigration constraints.
Said Johnson: “as some of us are already aware, postage stamps are considered by many as the most effective medium for immortalisisng monuments and events of historical significance. Perhaps, this is what King Fhud, an ancient Egyptian Monarch had in mind when he said: “ Sands of time scored the Pyramid out of history and human memory but philatelic stamps restored it to them. .. The stamps we are launching today will be on sale in all postal establishments in Nigeria, the Crown Agents Stamp Bureau in London and Intergovermental Stamp Agency in New York for a period of six months.
Director, Corporate Communications Department (CCD)