The Corporate Affairs Commission appears to have suddenly woken up. For many years it was a nightmare, as a public institution, to deal with. The truth is that it is like many institutions or agencies of government, where those who work in them and are kept at the expense of taxpayers or oil money from the Niger-Delta, think that the institutions belong to them personally.
The way the CAC carried on, at some point, you thought that they were tone-deaf and clinically blind, unable to hear complaints and unable to see the mess that the institution entrusted to them to manage on behalf of the commonwealth, was going down the gutters. It was so bad that simple transaction that people you did in Rwanda
effortlessly, even without seeing any official, became like being thrown into a cage containing a hungry lion.
The place was like a museum filled with old relics, human relics who were so out of touch with reality and modernity and who carried on as if people who came for the services they offered, owed them.
It was so pathetic that when people filed applications to register their companies, the files did a long rigmarole, lasting months and months, even years in some cases if you stayed back and waited for progress to happen naturally.
By creating an atmosphere that suggested the CAC was peopled by demi-gods, room was created for massive corruption because people felt compelled to offer bribes just to get basic things done, including a straightforward matter like a name search. But the behaviour of the people at the CAC cannot be viewed in isolation of the general malaise that afflicts this nation and officials in government, who hold positions but instead of seeing service, see fiefdom and strongholds to use to oppress and extort their fellow citizens.
The CAC at some point was described as a disgrace to an institution existing in the 21st Century. Many gave up on the CAC, especially those who were not in Abuja but who had to go to the CAC in Abuja to transact business. Many had gone and returned to their locations frustrated by the lack of positive response to the mission that took them to Nigeria’s almighty capital city, where those who lead and govern lack the essence to understand the fullness of a country that just needs to make its people happy and all other things shall fall into place.
The CAC was your typical example of irresponsibility. It was difficult at some point to distinguish it from a House of Horror. Our lawyers and other independent lawyers and individuals, familiar with the trappings of the agency, tell us that because it fell into the hands of devious individuals, who lacked the full knowledge of the nature and remit of such an institution, it still has vestiges of its old self and that it is only just clawing its way back out of the serious public disrepute it fell into, as far as service delivery is concerned.
We understand that it has been slow climbing out, but there appears to be hope. At least, that’s what we believe is happening with the fact that it has bothered to get some automation in place and that people don’t all have to go to Abuja to get certain things done that involves business name or company registration. It’s automation of its processes is pulling it out of the Horror House that it once was. It seems to us that the CAC now understands that it has to fall in line with the modern world; that it is a key part of government’s desire to climb up every ranking that contains the expression EASE OF DOING BUSINESS. We hear it is now looking at its processes and its books to see what is obsolete and to work to remove those things that have made it an ancient hermit removed from happenings in the world.
It is in the light of this baby steps that we salute its latest decision to review some of its requirements that often did not make sense. For instance, we welcome its decision to remove the proficiency certificate requirement for business and company registration. It called it part of its reform initiatives and we welcome the fact that it found the capacity to interrogate and use the word REFORM, because that is what it had always needed.
The CAC has said: “Under the new arrangement, members of the public do not have to submit proficiency certificate to the commission for registration of companies, business names and incorporate trustees.” It only goes to show that when you truly embrace reform, as an individual or organisation, you get very excited to transport yourself from doldrums to modernity and consequently, you are likely to offer better service to your customers.
As we welcome this new CAC, we will keep our eyes and ears open, watching and listening that it does not return to its old, bad and irresponsible ways.