Jan 22, 2013

Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission and Job Creation

One of the things the defunct administration of late General Sani Abacha did to encourage the creation of jobs and reduce unemployment was ensuring that registering a business name cost next to nothing. Sixteen years since the death of Abacha, it could be said that the problem of unemployment has become dire not because of the general assumption that the more we move into the future the difficult it becomes to provide jobs as the population is growing but because we are the Nigerians and know the reality in our own country. This explains why more needs to be done by taking even more rational and courageous decisions in our quest to tackle the problem of unemployment.
In Nigeria, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is the body shouldered with the responsibility of registration of companies. There are three categories of companies it registers. These include Business Names, Limited and Trustees categories. Registering a business name costs N5000. The Limited guarantee is again divided into sub-categories. The lowest costs N40, 000 while a trustee category which is for non-profit organizations like NGOs, churches and foundations, costs N120, 000 to register. Recently, CAC has announced increases in the cost of registration. The registration of business names has now gone up by 100%. The business name category is actually the most critical that the unemployed engage to help them start something that will generate income to themselves and eventually others. It thus amounts to a violation of the wise reasoning and out of tune with the current reality of chronic unemployment and the bitter consequences for our country.
The primary responsibility of every government is to make life comfortable to its citizens. The first step towards achieving this is by creation of jobs for the citizens. It explains why the cost of brand registration is cheap and affordable in most countries. In the United States of America, the wealthiest nation on earth for instance, registration categories are based on the limit of the territory of operation. A company may want to operate at the national, state or municipal levels. These cost $325 (N52, 000.00), $50 (N8, 000.00) and $25 (N4, 000.00) in that order. Thus N10, 000.00 for the registration of a business name in Nigeria clearly shows that the charge is skewed against the ordinary man.
The administration of Goodluck Jonathan, more than any else in the history of Nigeria, is faced with a stiffer challenge of job creation. The enormity of the problem is seen in the serious breakdown of law and order accentuated by kidnappings for ransom, terrorism, armed robbery and other grave vices in the country. As a result, increasing the cost of company registration is a very irrational decision. A lot of people are of the opinion that, given the current unemployment situation and its consequences, this decision may not have come from the administration but from within CAC and that the only reason why the commission would take that decision will be because some individuals within the commission stand to benefit from the decision. The implication is that there is a possibility not all the money goes to the federation. Along that line, corruption is suspected. If the federal government of Nigeria is paying the kind of huge salaries that is been paid today, workers have no reason to use government offices to engage in activities that badly hurt and frustrate the noble policies meant to support progress in the country.
The News Tower was registered as a business name in 2006. The name search and its registration were completed in just two days. Today it takes not less than ten days for just name search to be undertaken. This shows that the commission is becoming less efficient. This is distressing for a nation that wishes to break into the rank of twenty most developed economies in the world in just seven years time. It takes competition to displace other nations within that bracket. The right competition involves taking rational decisions. Part of rational decisions for nations today is the decision to use available technologies. One wonders why the duration of registration of companies is taking longer at a time when the internet that can help accomplish such a process in one day is available.
With the right CAC website, people can register companies in just one day and without paying cash directly to any individual. The implication is that it will also work to prevent corruption and the frustration it brings to progress. With the right website, people can search the availability of company names and pay using ATM cards. The registration certificate is generated automatically or sent via email as an attachment. It is just like registering a domain name where you don’t get to meet your web host yet the job is done. This also prevents corruption since the government can decide to configuration the registration such that what is charged from the ATM card is paid directly into the federal government’s account rather than the commission’s account thereby cutting the commission from any cash transaction. Furthermore, it will limit the manpower needed in the commission since the bulk of the activity in the commission is undertaken by the client themselves.
Going back to the cost of registration of a company, one will say that lower charges will help the country in more ways than many people will think. One thing about the Information Technology (I-T) is that it has revolutionized every facet of life. I-T is one reason why there are more musicians for instance. This is a category of professionals that need property right protection for songs written and names adopted. The government can, for instance, make a law mandating owners of new songs to show evidence that they own the right to the songs and their own names before any radio station can play such a song. Thus a radio station that plays such music will be guilty of a criminal offence. Comedians are other categories of persons that can be compelled by law to register names before they can be allowed use those names to practice. These will generate more revenue for the nation as long as the charges are affordable. In addition, it will teach the young men and women the significance a lawful approach to anything they do. One ugly trend that we have had to live with in Nigeria is the tendency to ignore the law in our dealing and is badly shaping the mindset of Nigerians.
Competing in the era of I-T revolution cannot be successful without taking advantage of the technology as the other nations we intend to displace at the higher rungs of the ladder are taking advantage of it. There is the need for legislation to compel all government ministries, departments and agencies to develop websites to aid their services. In addition to the ability of the I-T to make operations easy, it is critical in a country like ours where corruption has become a huge stumbling block to progress.

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