SECRETARY of Maris Trust Council (MTC), Mr Fidelis Egugbo, has said that personalities billed to participate in the March 31, 2021 edition of Maris annual public service lecture were the same persons scheduled to participate in the 2020 edition which was truncated by COVID-19 pandemic.
Egugbo, who is also the Special Assistant, Media to the Governor of Delta State, in a chat with journalists in Asaba, stated that Chief Monday Onyeme will deliver the lecture while the discussants are unchanged.
The Council’s secretary said, “We all know that no one changes a winning team. The topic for discussion, ‘Effective Tax Administration For The Delivery Of Democratic Dividends,’ was carefully chosen and the guest lecturer, Chief Monday Onyeme, is a tax expert who is presently, Chairman, Delta State Internal Revenue Service (DIRS). Chief Onyeme was a Bursar at National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN); he was also a lecturer and have successfully managed business and voluntary organisations. So, he is well qualified to deliver the lecture.
“Also, Mr Peter Mrakpor, Delta State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, who recently bagged Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), will be there as a discussant. A focused gentleman and intelligent personality, Mr Mrakpor will throw light on the legal perspective in tax administration.
“The Executive Chairman, Enugu State Internal Revenue Service, Mr Emeka Anthony Odo, Accountant-General of Lagos State, Dr. Shefiu Abiodun Muritala, the Executive Secretary, Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprise Development Agency (DEMSA), Hon. (Barr.) Orezi Esievo and the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Delta State House of Assembly, Hon. Tony Elekokuri, are all still billed as distinguished discussants at the 2021 lecture. Dr Kemi Emina, a renowned journalist and lecturer will be the Moderator.
“We must note that our Governor, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa, as a democrat who believes in an egalitarian society, has participated actively in the lecture from inception. We are confident that he will be present again at the forthcoming public lecture as the Chief Guest of Honour.”
Asked if COVID-19 which affected the 2020 edition will not affect the March 31, 2021 date, Egugbo said, “The traditional date for the lecture which was instituted in memory Stella-Maris Chukwufunimnenya Egugbo, is Holy Wednesday, that is, the Wednesday before Easter Sunday of every year.
“COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm and the surprise element made us to postpone the 2020 edition, which would have held on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at the Orchid Hotels Asaba.
“We are hopeful COVID-19 would have weakened significantly before the next Easter celebration, otherwise, we will apply strict COVID-19 health protocols during the lecture.
“As one of the most attended public service lectures in Sub-Saharan Africa, if COVID-19 continues, it will certainly affect those who will be travelling from different parts of the world for the lecture, especially if there are tougher restrictions in the country.
“Unless there is lockdown of Delta State, the lecture will hold as scheduled, by God’s grace, because the topic for discourse, “Effective Tax Administration For The Delivery Of Democratic Dividends,” remains important and critical to states and countries practising democracy, moreso, with the ravaging effects of COVID-19.
“Tax experts and administrators, including policy makers in governments, have indicated interest to attend the lecture and we are confident that with the team of experts, a lot would be learnt from the lecture.”