The Commission should live up to its responsibilities
The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Abuja is not living up to public expectations despite the measures introduced by the new Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020. The essence of CAMA is to enhance the ease of doing business in Nigeria as it provides a framework for reforming identified onerous legal, regulatory, and administrative bottlenecks. Ironically, the CAC is still a big obstacle to doing business effectively and efficiently in the country. Searches for availability of company names which ordinarily should not last more than a few hours at the CAC now last about four months. Meanwhile, customers applying for certified true copies of documents at the commission can hardly get them within a reasonable time.
On several occasions, the CAC had announced to the public that company registration in Nigeria could be expeditiously done online and that the certificate of such registered company could be printed online in one’s office. Besides saving time, some informal costs incurred in the interaction with government officials including transportation, unofficial tips and unnecessary delays would be eliminated. All this enhances transparency. “We are coming up with the use of technology so that our customers do not have to come here, while companies can do their transactions from anywhere,” said CAC’s Registrar-General and Chief Executive Officer Garba Abubakar, more than a year ago. “This is the way the world is operating; you don’t see customers around any CAC anywhere in the world. We are working hard to have a very robust solution that will allow us to render services to our numerous customers electronically so that anybody can deal with us from everywhere.”
In practice, online company registration is still a mirage. Even some basic things work epileptically at best. For one, the CAC Server is for most time down and dysfunctional. This also applies to the commission’s portal. Besides, about 50 per cent of company information on the portal is incorrect. Indeed, confusion seems to reign at the CAC, going by the endless customers’ complaints lodged at the complaint’s unit, and which the commission does not bother to acknowledge any longer. It is becoming apparent that the commission is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with its daily activities. Things got so bad last year that some lawyers in Abuja staged a peaceful protest in front of the CAC Headquarters to press home their dissatisfaction with the services of the commission.
Under the guise of exercising its statutory powers, the CAC is now undermining the integrity of the judiciary and disobeying court orders. The Balogun Business Association recently instituted several lawsuits in court against the Commission. Rather than wait for the determination of the suits as required by law, the CAC resorted to self-help by cancelling their certificate of registration and even went further to impose new officers on the association. That a statutory body such as the CAC which is a party to a lawsuit can act in such manner is symptomatic of the lawlessness that defines this season in Nigeria.
The CAC is not just any other institution, it is statutorily the custodian of corporate activities in Nigeria. For that reason, the Commission cannot afford to act in a manner that creates the impression that it is above the law. Besides, a dysfunctional and corruption-laden CAC is a big threat to economic prosperity in Nigeria. We therefore urge the Commission to adorn the breastplate of integrity, efficiency, competence, and transparency in the discharge of its duties. That is the only way it can earn the confidence of both the local and international stakeholders.