The Federal Government on Tuesday said it has lost billions of naira from 2015 till date in the lottery sector due to unpaid revenue from lottery operators in the country.
Sen. George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs made this known when he inaugurated an 11-man ministerial taskforce committee in his office in Abuja, for the recovery of such funds across the country.
The committee chaired by Mr Williams Alo, Permanent Secretary in the ministry has the following as members; Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, Director-General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Mr Bello Maigari, and Mr Okechukwu Odunna.
Other members are Dr Stella Maduka, Mrs Okunade Sarah. Mr Simon Tyungu, Mr Jude Ughwujabo, including representatives from CBN, EFCC, and a representative from the Nigeria Police Force.
According to Akume, the task force members are also expected to recover funds from the lottery permit holders across the country and they are given two months to complete their task.
“Today I am inaugurating a special Ministerial Committee Task force to be chaired by the Permanent Secretary to recover unpaid revenue from lottery operators and permit holders in Nigeria from 2015.
“The terms of reference is expressly stated in the appointment letters forwarded to designated task force members and it is expected that task force shall complete its work within the next two months, “ he said.
The Minister said since he assumed duties, he had ample opportunity to consult with industry stakeholders, adding that he was unsatisfied with his findings from the lottery operations across the nation.
“It is clear that historic revenues collections from lottery and gaming transactions have underperformed resulting in significant losses to government.
“In spite of my earlier appeal for increased effort by operators to pay what they owe, statutory returns continue to be poor or nonexistent,“ Akume said.
He, therefore, charged the task force to determine what funds are owed to government from 2015 to 2020 and facilitate the immediate recovery of such funds to government treasury.
Earlier, Alo expressed displeasure over the poor income from the country`s lottery sector comparing to what is obtained from other countries of the world.
He said the lottery sector in Nigeria had the potential to increase the revenue base of the country, if the proceeds made from it were properly remitted as required.
“Having regards of the need to raise fund for the administrative issues of this country, I deem it necessary as it is discovered that the lottery sector has the potential to increase the revenue base of this country.
“This country cannot continue to depend on oil as reasonable effort is being made to diversify the economy.
“And that is why the honourable minister, having looked at some gaps of not generating enough fund from lottery to meet up not just the good courses but to also assist government in pursuing its developmental projects, “ he said.
Also, Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, Director-General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, explained that the committee would serve as a platform to capture all the lottery operators in the country who are owing the government
“The central monitoring system will capture any leakage, all the operators in Nigeria will be connected to that platform and it will capture online transaction so there`s no way anybody can hide, “ he explained.