The State Exchange Visit (SEV) activity is one of the six components of NGF SFTAS Technical Assistance project deliverables, it is designed to address specific key result areas of the SFTAS program and is based on needs assessment. The SEV aims to promote participatory peer-to-peer learning among State Government officials or MDAs and allows for sharing of information and tactic knowledge for effective domestication of reforms.
The duration of the visit is designed to be short-term i.e., a maximum of 5 working days involving a minimum of four States with a maximum of four participants from each visiting state.
The second SEV to Lagos was held from 15th-18th November 2021 with a total of 14 officials from seven States; Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Edo, Kaduna, Kogi, and Oyo State participating.
The visit focused primarily on land administration and internally generated revenue (IGR) which speaks to SFTAS DLI 11.3 – capturing of property records in urban areas and DLIs 4.2 – State annual nominal IGR growth rates. Specifically, the adoption of technologies for improving land administration, tax processes (enumeration, assessment, and payment), procedures, enforcement, and revenue growth were identified as priority study areas.
The 4-day SEV programme commenced with a brief opening ceremony hosted by the LIRS executive management team at the Conference Hall of the Protea Hotels Ikeja. The keynote address was delivered by the Executive Chairman LIRS represented by the Assistant Director Tax Audit department who warmly welcome participants to Lagos State and gave a brief overview of the LIRS and their notable achievements over the past decade driven by the political support from the Executive Governor and a professionalized and high performing workforce.
This was followed by an address by the Senior Programme Associate NGF SFTAS, Ms. Zubaida Abiola who reiterated the objectives of the visit and its significance of being more than just a study tour, but a learning experience aimed at driving sustainable reforms. She also implored participants to consider themselves as ‘Change Agents’ and to make the most of the opportunity to learn, take-home useful lessons for adoption and domestication in their various States post-visit.
Core activities for the SEV comprised of daily technical sessions involving presentations from top LIRS officials and walkthrough visits for participants to gain insight into the daily operations of the State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Motor Vehicle Administration Agency, Lands Bureau Office, and Survey Generals office and their contributions to the generation of internal revenues and development of Lagos State. To ensure active participation, delegates were issued daily learning logbooks to fill at the end of each day (learning dairy session), and each State was required to submit a post-visit report highlighting learning outcomes and a detailed reform action plan to their principals with the NGF in copy.
The 4-day Exchange visit ended with a closing dinner and presentation of a photo album by the NGF SFTAS team on behalf of the Director-General Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to the LIRS in recognition of their supporting the SFTAS Exchange Visit to States activity.
Planning and Selection of States
A series of preparatory planning meetings were held between the NGF SFTAS and Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) team on behalf of the Host State between September and October to review the agenda and agree on the date for the visit and finalize all necessary arrangements including logistics and accommodation.
Drawing lessons from the last visit, it was agreed that the number of participants would be reduced from four (4) to two (2) participants per State to improve learning effectiveness and extension of the SEV from three to four days with considerations based on compliance with COVID-19 safety measures of social distancing, overcrowding during visits to MDAs as well as learning effectiveness.
After extensive consultations, the 15th to 18th of November 2021 were mutually agreed as the dates for the visit. Amongst MDAs to cover during the visit were the LIRS Headquarters and the Ikeja tax station, Motor Vehicle Administration Agency Headquarters, Lands Bureau Department, and the Office of the Lagos State Surveyor General. Each day was designed to also involve presentations from senior officials for the LIRS, Question, and Answer, and Learning Dairy sessions.
The criteria for the selection of the ‘host State’ for the SEV is based on the level of GIS (Geographical Information Systems) deployment, maturity of the land administration system, IGR year-on-year nominal growth (going back at least 5 years, 2015 – 2020), technology deployment for tax administration as well as the existence of enabling laws/regulations.
The methodology for selection involves thorough assessment using primary and secondary information such as progress inhouse reports on DLI 4.1, 4.2, 11.3, 2018, and 2019 APA results, NBS IGR annual and quarterly data (aggregated and disaggregated data). Lagos State has selected one again as ‘Host State’ having met all the stated requirements as well as their willingness to host the second SEV as expressed by the LIRS Management team at the end of the first SEV held in May 2021. In addition, seven other States drawn from across the six geo-political zones namely; Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Edo, Kaduna, Kogi, and Oyo were selected as “visiting States” for the second SEV based on interest, APA performance, and learning prospects assessment.
A total number of 14 participants (two from each of the seven States) representing the Land Bureaus/ GIS office Tax and SIRSs were nominated to attend, accompanied by a team of NGF SFTAS Staff including the Senior Programme Manager, Senior Programme Associate, Lead IGR expert, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Researcher, and a Project Officer. Also invited to participate as observers during SEV programme were; The Coordinator, Federal Component USAID/DAI Nigeria (currently supporting two of the participating States; Akwa Ibom and Bauchi under the State2State project) and The Project Consultant for Akwa Ibom GIS.
The overall aim of the 4-day SEV to Lagos was to provide visiting States an on-site peer-learning opportunity to share knowledge through an open exchange of ideas, experiences, and best practices. The visit focused specifically on studying the deployment of GIS technologies for enumeration of property records (geotagging), the existing legal framework, and other institutional arrangements for effective land administration and driving revenue growth in Lagos State. Expected outcomes at the end of the SEV were for participants to;
• Develop an understanding of the core operations of the tax administration system in Lagos State.
• Appreciate the benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in driving organizational efficiency and effectiveness.
• Gain practical insight into deployment and adoption of GIS technologies for land administration and capturing property tax records in Lagos State.
• Identify areas of good practice as well as critical success factors required for implementing related reforms back in their various States.
• Establish a platform for future partnerships and collaborations post-visit among visiting States as well as the Host State MDAs.
Written by Gbenga Oloke.