Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Bigly Oil & Gas Limited, an Internal Revenue Generating (IGR) firm in Anambra State, said it had transformed and engaged over 300 touts popularly called Agbero into gainful employment in Anambra State.
The Project Manager of the firm, Chukwuma Michael Nwabuikwu, stated this in Awka while briefing newsmen on the activities of the company in the state.
He said 300 touts had been recruited from the streets, trained, and deployed to work for the State Government in the business of revenue collection.
According to him, more touts are in line to be transformed through training and engaged to bring professionalism to the practice of revenue collection in the state.
“We are in partnership with Anambra State Internal Revenue Services to collect statewide haulage tax on behalf of the Anambra State Government. Our operation is divided into the upstream tax collection and the downstream tax collection.
“The upstream is the tax we collect from trucks passing through the state, and the downstream is the one we collect at the market sites of the state.
“Our mandate is to optimise haulage tax collection through the use of technology in line with the governor’s policy to eliminate illegal collection through the use of an electronic collection system.
“In line with our mandate, we have set out to digitalise our process. We have been given this authority since September 1, 2023. We hit the ground running. We have been in partnership with the AiRS and have put together mechanisms to collect the revenue through the best civil way of branding and dishing out messages.
“The Governor did not plan to throw the touts back into the streets; what he wanted to do was to bring back the agbero population, and put them back into the working system by rehabilitating, reintegrating them as well as providing them with gainful employment.
“People that are called agbero are Anambra and Igbo youths who are now gainfully employed by Anambra State Government, kitted and mandated to collect revenue for the State Government.
“The recruitment process was very thorough. We collected their details, passports, NIN, and other details even to their (Umunna) kindred level and passed them on to the office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on security matters. They were thoroughly vetted and screened before we sent them back to the streets.
“Today, they are completely kitted and wearing their ID cards. Before our operation finally took off on the 6th of September, 2023, we took about 3 weeks to prepare an induction workshop in collaboration with AiRS in Awka where they were prepared for the task.
“After the induction, we have over 300 Anambra Youths employed in the haulage tax collection and they started operation on the 26th of September, 2023,” he said.
Speaking further, Nwabuikwu said the firm had set up a compliance quality control team that is going to represent three senatorial districts in Anambra State. He also said plans are underway to deploy vehicles to monitor the activities of the officers in the senatorial districts.
“On the rule of engagement violation penalty, we made it clear that any of our members that are caught violating our established rule at the duty post using hard drugs will not only be sacked but shall be handed over to security agencies for proper prosecution.”