By Chioma Obinagwam
The recent dismissal of the Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria(FRC), Jim Obazee along with the Chairman of the Council, Hajia Maryam Ibrahim, which led to the reconstitution of the FRC board seem to conflict with the legislation instituted by National Assembly.
On the orders of the President of Nigeria(Muhammadu Buhari), Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Public, announced the appointment of Mr. Daniel Asapokhai as the Executive Secretary of the Council whereas Mr. Adedotun Sulaiman replaced Hajia Ibrahim as the Chairman.
Although Mr. Sulaiman was a former Managing Partner/Director of Arthur Anderson and later, Accenture, a Chartered Accountant, a product of the University of Lagos and Harvard Business School, he belongs to the same accounting body as the Executive Secretary.
The statement issued by Mr. Shehu further revealed that Mr. Asopokhai is a partner and a Financial Reporting Specialist at the PricewaterHouseCoopers (PWC), Nigeria.
It is a fact that the two appointees are financial experts, however, their appointments defies Section 3, subsection 1b of the FRC Act, 2011, which states: “On such terms and conditions as may be specified in their letter of appointment: provided that in appointing the Chairman and Executive Secretary, due recognition of accounting bodies established by Acts of National Assembly.”
This implies that both positions should not be sought from the same accounting bodies as in the current replacements where both Mr. Asapokhai and Mr. Sulaiman are members of the same accounting bodies- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria(ICAN) without recourse to Association of National Accountants of Nigeria(ANAN).
Evidently, in the previous composition of the board, Jim Obazee- the outgone Executive Secretary is a member of ICAN where as Hajia Ibrahim, a member of ANAN, reflecting ‘due recognition of accounting bodies established by Acts of the National Assembly’ as stated in the FRC Act.
More so, both accounting bodies are established by the Act, hence should be given equal opportunities for the positions.
ANAN was founded on January 1, 1979 and was incorporated on September 28, 1983. The Association was chartered on 25th August 1993 by Decree 76 of 1993.
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria(ICAN), on the other hand, was established by the Act in 1965.
Moreover, Obazee’s exit at this time when the economy is sinking in recession with one of the leeways being the implementation of the National Code of Corporate Governance(NCCG), could also be considered a blunder.
Recall that Obazee had assured, at the Council’s Summit held in Lagos, recently that the code has the capacity to pull the country out of recession because it would, boost confidence in the economy, engender ease of doing business and attract more investors into the country.
There’s, therefore, no gainsaying that Corporate Governance is the song the world is singing today.
Since investors will only invest in any jurisdiction, if they know that they will be entitled to keep the reward thereafter.
This requires transparent laws, impartial courts, property rights and non-fluctuating adherence to international best practice in financial reporting, corporate governance standards and codes.
Although Obazee was recently dismissed for his decision to enforce the NCCG on churches that led to the resignation of Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the out-gone, General Overseer(G.O) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God(RCCG), he will be remembered for his struggle to institute good corporate governance in the country.