The Corporate Affairs Corporation (CAC) has reiterated its management and staff commitment towards ensuring efficient service delivery to clients.
Alhaji Garba Abubakar, CAC’s Registrar-General, in an interview with newsmen in Abuja, said the commission was ensuring this digitally through its unique portal.
“There is no government agency that has a truly self-serving portal as the CAC and our services are rendered 24/7.
“We don’t have weekends, we don’t have public holidays, we don’t have Christmas, we don’t have Sallah. Our staff works anytime of the day, any day of week to continue to render services to Nigerians,” Abubakar said.
On cost, he said it had been a deliberate policy at the commission for clients to access basic information about all the entities registered for free to Nigerians.
“So, if you want to know whether a company is registered. You will have information about the name, the address in the document, the date of registration and the registration number.
“And we have added the Beneficial Ownership Information as a deliberate policy consistent with our regulations. This is what will actually help and support our anti-corruption initiative.
“If the members of the public and the civil society and investigation agencies have access to this information, it gives them the opportunity, the latitude to do their work more efficiently.
“They don’t have to call us, they don’t have to send any letter to us, they can access this information on their own and use this information in the course of their investigation.”
According to Abubakar, the commission would on May 25, inaugurate the register for the Beneficial Ownership Information, which is a key initiative of the government.
He said the stand alone register would allow people to query the database either by the name of the individual or by his address or the name of the company.
Abubakar said it would also provide all the necessary information required on the entity.
On penalty, the registrar-general urged Nigerians to report whatever they perceived as misstatement or false declaration.
“The law is clear, anybody that makes any false declaration is liable for conviction to two years imprisonment.
“So once we discover that, we will report to the relevant law enforcement and they will take it up from there. After prosecution the person that made the false declaration will be liable to two years jail term,” he said.
The CAC boss said the commission also integrated with the National Identity Management database to ensure the integrity of the information received via its portal.
According to him, the integration allows the commission to instantly validate the information about the individual.
“With this integration, we no longer require you to even upload your signature. Before now, sometimes we have cases where means of identification were cloned.
“Some names other than the main owners are super-imposed and submitted to us for registration. We had course to query some of them, request for the original for sighting and they will disappear.
“So with integration, that is no longer possible. For every Nigerian, you will only be able to register if you have a National Identification Number (NIN),” he said.
Some CAC Achievements
“All that we have been able to achieve, all the reforms from my appointment to the amendment of CAMA, to all the regulations that we have issued, were done under this administration.
“And it has been fantastic. We have never gotten to this level in our company’s new development in Nigeria, and we have never had a registry that is fully digitised before now.
“And for the first time, Nigeria is recognised by the Comity of Nations as a country that has a publicly available register. No government has achieved that before,” Abubakar said.
According to the registrar-general, Nigeria has become a reference point globally; we are even invited to speak globally on some of these reforms at no cost to Nigeria.
He reiterated that a delegation was coming from other countries to attend the inauguration of CAC’s Beneficial Ownership Register.
He said the register was one of the landmark achievements of the present administration, which would support the anti-corruption initiative of the government.
Abubakar said: “The delegation is coming to understudy what we have done in the commission. So the government has excelled.
Some CAC Challenges
Alhaji Garba Abubakar, says funding is one of the major challenges of the commission.
Abubakar told newsmen in Abuja that the recent government policy was not favourable and had impacted negatively on the commission.
“The major challenge is funding. Government policies have actually impacted us. Before now, we were allowed to generate, spend and release the surplus to the government.
“But that policy has changed, we are limited to spending only 60 percent of our revenue. 40 percent is deducted automatically and paid in the account operating surplus to the government.
“So, it has been difficult, and this year has been very difficult.
“You have to pay staff. You have to maintain your systems; you have to pay your service providers, you have to pay for power,” he said.
According to Abubakar, the law requires the commission to have offices in all 36 states of the federation and the FCT, which it has complied with.
He said based on the number of states, more funds was required to service and manage the states.
He said: “You have to maintain these offices, power these offices, you have to clean these offices, you have security. So, it has been quite challenging but we are hoping that government will look into this.
“We have made a presentation. We are fully self-funding, we don’t get subvention from the government, so it has been quite challenging.”
The registrar-general said the commission had fully digitised and deviated from manual method of operations.
He said that the commission had deployed an electronic financial statement platform such that companies no longer had to scan and upload their financial statements.
He said the funding for the project was provided by the European Union Citizen for Change Programme.
According to him, the project has eased the burden for clients and can be used to query, to know the number of companies registered and their information.
“The portal is developed in line with the principles of extensible reporting language. We have just made some changes that allow you to upload the signatures of the directors as you are submitting the statement.
“So this has been a milestone, we will continue with our sensitisation and enlightenment, and most of the initiatives have actually been achieved,” he said.
According to Abubakar, people need to know what we are doing; they need to know what is required of them, particularly relating to beneficial management.
“So we are planning stakeholder engagement in all the geo-political zones in conjunction with the world bank to sensitise people.
“And we are encouraging other government agencies that do not have access to apply, so that we give them access to this database for them to use in their own work.
“This is government data. It is not our data; we are collecting this data, it is public data, and we have a responsibility to support other agencies in achieving their mandate.”