Appraising Impacts Of CAC’s Reforms On Nation’s Economy

Appraising Impacts Of CAC’s Reforms On Nation’s Economy

By Ladi Patrick-Okwoli

Arguably, When President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the National Digital Economy Policy, initiated by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, it was to ensure that Nigeria stays in tune with global trends and reality.

The World Economic Forum, WEF, predicts that by 2022, 60% of the world economy will be digital.

According to WEF, an estimated 60% to 70% of new value created in the economy over the next decade will be based on digitally-enabled platforms.

The World Bank in a 2019 report noted that Nigeria is uniquely positioned to reap the benefits of a digital economy.

According to the report, Nigeria accounts for 47% of West Africa’s population, and half of the country’s 200 million people are under the age of 30.

This is even as the Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, sector is considered the backbone of any economy as it contributes massively to employment and export growth.

It is in line with the innovative and transformational Leadership of the Registrar General/ CEO of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, Alhaji Garba Abubakar to reform the Commission in line with global best practices.

The Registrar General since assumption of office on January 9, 2020 has consolidated on the ease of doing business initiation and the Economic Recovery Growth Plan of the Federal Government.

He took over the affairs of the Commission at a time when the establishment was at its lowest ebb in terms of visionary and goal-oriented leadership. Abubakar aware of the expectation of stakeholders and the challenges before him hit the ground running by initiating reforms, which has changed the narratives and redefine, redesign the workings of the Commission, setting the Commission at the topmost pedestal to actualize the commissions mandate in line with the international standards acceptable practices, thereby ensuring all the bureaucratic bottleneck are cleared paving the way for ease of doing business.   The CAC under Abubakar’s watch has given a much clearer direction and higher sense of mission to a system that was almost engulfed by inconsistencies and serial policy somersaults, with target-driven staff members as team players.

 Today, new forms of business registrations have been unveiled and can be registered directly on the commission’s website. 

The businesses include, Limited Partnership and Limited Liability Partnership.

Just last year, over 500 staff of the Commission were trained to fit into the new system. While 400 were trained immediately he resumed office in 2020.

Prior to his assumption of office the Commission had been in default in the payment of operational surplus to the Federal Government account.

He’s been able to pay the liabilities and so far has paid close to N5billion or more and still counting.

Staff outstanding liabilities in the area of pension and tax remittances prior his assumption was paid deploying his prudent managerial acumen. Liabilities adjudged insurmountable were cleared within a few months he captained the affairs of the Commission.

Health insurance programmes have been upgraded and now cover dialysis where needed.

The registration of 250,000 free business names initiated by the Federal Government under the Survival Fund Initiative have been completed thereby enabling many finding it challenging to own a business name to have one with the highest ease.

 Approving Officers have been empowered with high-tech laptops and enough data to ease the work thereby creating a new system of work where staff members work 24hours result-driven services without physically being in the office, approvals are done even on weekends. All the staff of the Commission are tech-savvy courtesy of Alhaji Garba Abubakar.  

The Commission did not relent in discharging its responsibilities to customers and stakeholders notwithstanding the COVID-19 Pandemic resulting in the closing down of the global economy and Nigeria not being an exception.  It was therefore an opportunity to look inward and improve on what was on the ground to make the online platform better and interactive as the case may be.  It is in line with this that the following reforms were deployed:

“In order to adhere to the Federal Government guidelines on social distancing, the Commission made provisions of canopies and chairs and later purchased 6 sets of canopies, 6 tables and 250 numbers of chairs as well as hand sanitisers and enforcement of the use of face mask to protect staff and customers who are at the risk of contacting as well spreading COVID-19 while in the Commission’s premises.

The Commission under the leadership of Abubarkar had introduced a mailing system to handle mail delivery between the customers and the Commission.  Identified Courier Companies were engaged to handle Mail delivery in respect of manual submission.

Others include, “Introduction of dedicated email addresses for submission of Applications and complaints online.

He has also introduced the auto-generation of Tax Identification Number, TIN, on Certificates of Registration for companies.  This has dispensed with the necessity of obtaining TIN from Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, after registration as a stand-alone process.

“Strengthening and re-strategising the Internal Quality Management System Audit for quality control service delivery and resolution of customer complaints.

 “Procurement of Laptops and VPN access to ensure that staff work seamlessly for timely delivery of services.  This has assisted a lot in sustaining our service delivery timelines notwithstanding the restriction on the category of staff expected to report and work in the office.

 “Sensitisation and Enlightenment programmes on the New CAMA, 2020.  This was conducted through online media channels and conventional media, both prints and electronics.  This was to provide clarification on the new legal framework on Persons with Significant Control, PSC, disclosure and some new provisions that were introduced as a result of the amendment.

 “Implementation of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2020 and the Regulations made pursuant to it by the Honorable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment commenced in January, 2021.  This coincided with the deployment of a new registration application with an end-to-end solution for registration services.

The Commission has sustained its engagement with stakeholders for the purpose of enlightenment and clarifications where necessary that will ensure a good understanding of the new law and service delivery framework for the greater development of our economy. The Commission has already held Customer Forums in Kano and Port Harcourt. The engagement was expected to continue in Lagos and Enugu before the end of 2021.

The issue of staff welfare has also enjoyed favourable consideration with the offsetting of outstanding inherited Tax, Staff Pension liabilities and outstanding NSITF Employees Compensation which will also benefit the staff exiting from the Commission who would no longer wait endlessly to get their retirement benefits.

CAC Corporate Headquarters, Abuja

We were also able to sponsor training of staff even with the lean resources at our disposal. This has motivated and boosted the morales of staff in no small measure.

He said the commission is committed to improving on all policies that will make it a World Class Registry and Nigeria an investment destination.

 Pursuing these reforms within just two years, the new Registrar General has proven to be a man with a MIDAS Touch, breaking barriers and ushering in new order, while boosting the morale of staff and management to an unprecedented level. The CAC boss, being a team player par excellence, has been able to motivate and extract the potentials of his management and staff toward much greater mandate delivery and satisfactory performances.

He said it works better by having strong synergy with critical stakeholders, coupled with a properly nurtured and sustained customer-centric sentiment with a bias for Data Analysis and Utilisation. All of these can blend well within the Framework of a well structured Institution. It is most astonishing and highly amazing how Abubakar has been able to galvanise all human and limited financial resources available to achieve such huge and uncommon reforms within a short period.

As it stands today, CAC has not only improved significantly, contributing exponentially in the Nation’s Economic Growth, but has equally attained a historic feat as envisaged by the stakeholders such as National Accountants of Nigeria, ANAN, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria ,MAN, Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria ,ICSAN, and the Nigerian Bar Association ,NBA.

The stakeholders noted that the digitisation of CAC operations undoubtedly brought succour to the customers who they said in the past had to wait for up to six months or beyond to incorporate a company or conduct searches manually.

Stakeholders, customers  has  commended staff members of the Commission for  working extra hours to approve registrations both outside work hours and weekends and also charged them to sustain the tempo, AljazirahNigeria investigation reveals.