The chairman, Bank of Industry (BOI), Aliyu Dikko, has charged corporate leaders to learn from the global pandemic or be swept off should a repeat of such happen again. Dikko made this known at the 44th annual conference of Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN) held in Lagos yesterday.
Represented by the executive director of the bank, Simon Aranonu, he said though nobody envisaged the coming of the Corona virus howbeit, everyone must now begin to make contingency plans in other to avert the consequences should any negative eventuality erupt again like Covid- 19.
Dikko maintained that while many persons, corporate organizations and countries were crying on top voices, a few fellows were not swayed by the wave of the pandemic simply because they latter had contingency plan (Plans for the unexpected) which is basically anchored on human capital development and full digitalization of operations.
“The global pandemic is a tough teacher, if we don’t learn from it, some persons will be consumed should there be a reoccurrance. Thus, we must prepare for the unexpected. Those who are prepared, nothing comes as a surprise” he added.
In his address, the President and chairman of council, ICSAN, Bode Ayeku, charged the federal government of Nigeria to scrape section 39 of the Finance Bill of 2021, saying it’s unacceptable and incongruous with some extant laws.
In the Finance Bill, section 39 pointed out that the government has proposed to take over the management of Unclaimed Dividends of public listed companies, howbeit, he reminded policy makers and corporate leaders that Principle 23 of the Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance 2018 (NCCG) provides for the “Protection of Shareholder Rights”, and the right to dividend by the shareholders is one of the rights that companies and stakeholders must protect at all times.
Ayeku beckoned on those who proposed to take over Unclaimed Dividends to respect the rights of shareholders as stated in the NCCG 2018, in other to avoid any action that would negatively affect the capital market and discourage investors.
He made the position of ICSAN in this regard saying: “Government should expunge Section 39 of the Finance Bill 2021, proposing to take over unclaimed dividends of public listed companies, and focus on addressing the root causes of unclaimed dividends by requesting the various state governments to review their complex, unfair and exploitative Probate process; arbitrary valuation of assets of the deceased leading to compromise by Probate officials; high estate duty of 10% which dependents of the deceased are compelled to pay notwithstanding that probate/ letter of administration is just a change of name and not sale of assets of the deceased.
“The government should fix a time frame of maximum of 2 months for issuance of probate after receipt of complete documentation by the Probate Registry of each state to enable executors / administrators of deceased shareholders to quickly claim their unclaimed dividends in order to reduce their hardship.
“They should also request the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, to further simplify the procedure for accessing unclaimed dividends by the shareholders such that one Form can be used by affected shareholders to access all unclaimed dividends in PLCs instead of filing a Form for each Registrar, and the Registrars and banks are to conclude all requests received with complete documentation within a period of three (3) days.
He urged the government to allow existing shareholders to update their information by nominating default beneficiaries with bank account numbers that dividends should be paid in case of death or disability of the shareholders stressing that the government should include a section in the new Share / Bond application Form (through the primary and secondary markets), Stockbroker / CSCS account opening forms for default beneficiaries to be stated by investor in order to proactively reduce the volume of unclaimed dividend in future.
“Government should replace Section 39 of the Finance Bill 2021 with a provision that unclaimed dividends shall be accessible to shareholders indefinitely and shall not be forfeited by any company after 12 years, but to be kept by the companies as stated in CAMA 2020. This is because companies have contractual responsibility to pay dividends to shareholders and this Bill has the implication of inducing a breach of such contract.
“Government must ensure the safety of unclaimed dividends so that they can be accessed by shareholders indefinitely, companies should be mandated to invest unclaimed dividends only in government securities / gilt edge securities while the unclaimed dividends SHOULD NOT be transferred from the custody of companies that declared them to any institution, whether private or public, corporate or institutional, local or international,” he asseverated.
In a keynote address, a Managing Partner with White Wall & Lysi, Olatunji Ope, who spoke on the Theme: ‘Entrenching the Right Governance Framework for Economic Development and Sustainability’, avowed that a stronge, stable and sustainable economy is a function of Entrenching the Right Governance frameworks accross the three tiers of Government.
Ope affirmed that if Nigeria must deliver itself from the current economic quagmire, then the education system, industry and shared social values must all be in tune with one another adding that leadership anchored on character, capacity and competence can save Nigeria from myriads of challenges it grapples with.
“If the educational system, industry and shared social values are not harmonized, then the country would continue to suffer economic retardation as some persons already believe that Nigeria was not configured for economic development, hence the clamour for systematic Restructuring,” he maintained.
He challenged political leaders and other resource controllers accross the three tiers of government to reverse to the basics and answer fundamental questions to address critical anomalies bedeviling the country.
Meanwhile, economic and administrative experts have put forward that, some persons and corporate organizations are yet to learn from the global pandemic while others have moved on. They avowed that for people to remain in business, then digitalization becomes indispensable.
They task corporate leaders to begin to think about the new trends brought about by the pandemic like compensation for all stakeholders as well as mitigating the physical presence of doing business in a particular place as no one knows the actual end to the pandemic.
“There were signals before the pandemic for everyone to go digital but many took it with a pinch of salt. Now reality has dawn on us, howbeit, it is not yet over, because we do not really know the end of this Covid-19 neither do we know what may crop up again even in the nearest future. So we must begin to think radically and prepare for the worst.
“We must pay attention to risks management and put in place mitigants to cushion to impact of risk associated with changes and disruptions in the business world while we adhere to corporate governance Principles and practices, if these are not done, many organizations may not find their feet in the nearest future. So it’s imperative for everyone to invest in digitalization and collaborate in the fight against Cyber crimes,” they averred.