Strengthening Tax Accountability Links: Fiscal Transparency and Taxpayers Engagement in Nigeria

By

Prof. Godwin Emmanuel Oyedokun

Professor of Management & Accounting,

Lead City University, Ibadan

godwinoye@oyedokungodwin.com;

+2348033737184, +2348132445878

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BBeing an Introductory speech delivered as the Chairman of the 2021 annual tax week of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria Ibadan & District society at the Jogor event centre on 28th of August, 2021

Introduction

It is important that we have a brief understanding of what accountability entails.  Accountability simply implies an assurance that a person/institution entrusted with a particular task carries out the given mandate and does so in a way that is in accordance with the norms and rules applicable to such task.  It however involves at least two parties the one who has been entrusted with something that gives rise to the accountability obligation, and the principal who gave the mandate in the first place, or an agent delegated this authority.

Tax accountability is one that is democratic in nature, and it is of a special case where the principal is “the people” and the parties owing accountability are those entrusted with political power.

A situation characterized by democratic accountability can be defined as a situation where:

  1. Political power-holders carry out their mandate and exercise their powers in a way that is transparent, in the sense that it enables other institutions – and the public – to see what is actually done, and assess whether it is in accordance with the mandate and the relevant norms and rules;
  2. Power-holders are answerable in the sense of being obliged to provide reasons for their decisions in public (which also implies an element of responsiveness); there are institutional checks or control mechanisms in place to prevent abuse of power and ensure that corrective measures are taken in cases where the mandate is contravened, or rules are violated.
  3. Democratic accountability requires in addition institutional mechanisms through which ‘the people’ can punish (remove) officials who do not meet the standards, and influence laws and policy decisions.

Taxation is believed to promote these qualities in public officials and institutions because this is necessary in order to make the citizen accept their tax obligations. If governments are perceived as accountable, more people will pay their taxes “voluntarily”, which lowers the need for coercion, generally reduces the costs of tax-collection and also strengthen accountability links between the government and taxpayers.

Conversely, if people do not see their governments as accountable, there is an increased likelihood that state demands for (new or higher) taxes will be met with protest and violence that is costly and might even jeopardize the position of those in power. The starting point for an emerging new literature on the interconnections between taxation and democracy in the developing world is the acknowledgement that bargaining over tax policies and the budget is the primary way in which different state and societal goals can be reconciled in a democracy (Moore, 1998).

The link between taxation and accountability is typically illustrated by the battle cry from the American colonies’ fight for independence from Britain – “no taxation without representation”. Because taxpayers were consulted about the revenue raising system compliance in tax collection became quasi-voluntary thus, reducing collection costs.

Conclusively, there is increasingly strong evidence that taxation can contribute to expanded government responsiveness and accountability. However, such positive connections are not guaranteed. Rather, they are shaped by the political and economic context and specific policies adopted by governments and civil society actors. Therefore, without an environment that enables tax accountability, there is a risk that taxation will amount to little more than forceful extraction.

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Prof. Oyedokun is a young but experienced multi-talented and multidisciplinary scholar-practitioner of good repute with over 20 years’ experience and over 30 professional qualifications, from both Nigeria and international professional bodies.

Prof. Oyedokun is currently a Professor of Management & Accounting in the Department of Management & Accounting of Lead City University Ibadan, Nigeria. He is a Visiting Professor of Forensic Accounting & Finance at Charisma University, Turks & Caicos Island, West Indies, UK. A visiting Professor at the Department of Management Science of Coal City University, Enugu, he was an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Accounting, Igbinedion University, Okada, Nigeria, and he was formerly a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Accounting and Department of Taxation of Nasarawa State University Keffi. Likewise, he was an adjunct lecturer at Babcock University, South-Western University, and McPherson University, all in Nigeria to mention a few.  He is a faculty member at the Joseph Business School Chicago/Lagos, and an international faculty member at the Mississippi State University’s Continue Education programmes in Lagos.

Prof. Oyedokun is currently a faculty member for the supervision of Postgraduate Students at the University of South Africa (UNISA). He is also an External Examiner for the undergraduate programme of the Accountancy Departments of both Abia State University, Uturu Nigeria and Atiba University, Oyo, Nigeria.

Prof. Oyedokun is a sought-after intellectual, who had presented over 787 technical/seminar papers in various conferences/training/seminars and is an examiner to some professional bodies, both in Nigeria and abroad. Prof. Oyedokun has attended several local and international conferences in the last 20 years with over 40 professional articles and 120 peered-reviewed academic articles (of which 30 are in International Journals), and 20 conference papers, 10 chapters contributions, he has edited 7 books and published 23 books, all but to the Glory of God. He has successfully supervised as a sole supervisor, 115 BSc Projects, 6 PGD Projects, 32 MSc Dissertations, and 21 completed Ph.D. Theses in management, accounting, finance, taxation, and forensic accounting & audit in Nigeria and overseas.

Prof. Oyedokun is an Erudite Professor, a Consummate Educationist, and a Human Capital Development Expert who has taught in all levels of education. He has also attended programmes at Lagos Business School, Lagos Nigeria, and Joseph Business School, Chicago, USA.

 ND (Fin), HND (Acct.), BSc. (Acct. Ed), BSc (Acct. & Fin.), BSc. (Bus. Admin), MBA (Acct. & Fin.), MSc. (Acct.), MSc. (Bus &Econs), MSc (Tax), MTP (SA), PhD (Acct), PhD (Fin), PhD (FA), FCA, FCTI, ACIB, ACS, ACIS, MNIM, FCNA, FCFIP, FCE, FERP, CICA, CFA, CFE, CIPFA, CPFA, ACAMS, ABR, CertIFR, IPA, IFA, FFAR, FPD-CR, IPA, IFA, FFAR

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