Apparently disturbed by the paucity of remittances by the 21 licensed lottery operators in Nigeria, the House of Representatives has directed its Committee on Governmental Affairs to probe the activities of players in the industry.
The Committee is also to investigate regulatory bodies such as the Nigeria Lottery Regulatory Commission and the Nigeria Lottery Trust Fund.
Briefing journalists over the weekend, chairman of the Committee, Hon. Hussaini Suleiman Kangiwa, (APC, Kebbi), expressed displeasure that since the inception of the industry 11 years ago, the operators only remitted a paltry sum of about N700 million annually as taxes accrued to the federal government.
Flanked by other members of the committee, Kangiwa said the N700 million per annum was “uninspiring and unacceptable” for a country with a population of about 180 million.
The chairman who reeled out statistics from other African acountries said, available records showed that Nigeria’s sister countries of Morocco, Code’Ivore and Togo with less population remitted N13.4 billion, N2.7 billion and N1.2 billion respectively to their governments, all at the exchange of N305 to a dollar.
He disclosed that the probe would span through 13 years of the lottery activities precisely from 2005 to date.
“The House of Representatives at its plenary on Wednesday 31 January, 2018 concluded debates on the above motion and referred same to the Committee on Governmental Affairs with a mandate to investigate the activities of Licensed Lottery operators from 2005 to date with a view to ensuring that tax defaulters amongst them are made to pay promptly.
“That the federal government receives an average of about N700 million only annually as statutory remittances from 21 License Lottery Operators since inception of the industry 11 years ago.
“Nigeria with a population of about 180 million people such a meagre remittance is uninspiring and unacceptable and therefore should not be allowed to continue unchecked especially now that the country is in dire need of revenues from all sources,” he said.
He added that “data from lottery records from other African countries show that: Morocco with a population of about 32 million (2016) remitted a total sum of $43 million which is equivalent to N13.4 billion
“Code’Ivore with a population of about 23 million people remitted in the same year about $8.9 million which is equivalent to N2.7 billion.
“Togo remitted about $3.7 million equivalent to about N1.2 billion to the government (all at the exchange of N305) just to mention but a few.
“All the above date from our sister African Countries reflect a good lottery industry structure and regulatory environment. We believe that Nigeria’s Lottery industry holds far greater potential from growth and returns for investment if properly managed.
“In the same vein, the Committee is making arrangement to invite the Lottery Regulatory Commission, Lottery Trust Funds, all the Licensed Operators and all stakeholders for an investigative hearing very soon to ascertain the reason why returns from Nigeria lottery industry is very poor compare to our sister African countries,” he said.
According to him, if well managed, the lottery sector could be another money spinner for the country, assuring Nigerians of a thorough investigation that would produce encouraging results.
“The Committee wishes to assure Nigerians that after this investigation hearing, our country lottery sector would add value to our National Economic growth and development.
“From this comparative analysis therefore, we can safely conclude that if proper attention is given to lottery industry in Nigeria, it is going to present a veritable alternative to oil industry,” Kangiwa said.