27 Oct

The week ahead – Keeping it real

Online newspaper, Premium Times reported that at least eight soldiers have been killed in Sasawa, a village in Damaturu LGA, Yobe after suspected Boko Haram gunmen launched an attack on a military base on 24 October. An army spokesperson, Kayode Ogunsanya, confirmed the attack but declined details on the actual casualty. An unnamed officer told Premium Times that one of the slain soldiers was an officer and that a civilian was among those killed when the insurgents attacked yesterday. This attack came two days after a suicide bomber killed 13 other people in Maiduguri, the deadliest attack in over a month as the conflict with Boko Haram stretches into its ninth year. The evening attack, which also injured five people, struck the city’s Muna Garage area, home to a camp for just some of the more than 2 million people who have fled fighting with the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency, which has left over 20,000 dead. Two suicide bombers also injured 13 other people in a separate attack.

According to a Senate ad hoc committee report, 25 government agencies failed to remit ₦1.695 trillion revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The committee said the NNPC ran a ₦3.115 trillion deficit between 2012 and 2016. The committee said more than 600 agencies were involved but listed 92 of them. The committee, led by Olamilekan Adeola, was mandated by the senate to investigate all agencies and institutions of government charged with the responsibility of generating, collecting, accounting and remittance of internally generated revenue. According to the committee, the total revenue generated by these agencies between 2012 and 2016 was ₦21.5 trillion.

The Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria is revisiting plans to reintroduce its proposed harmonised National Code of Corporate Governance (NCCG) that was suspended by the Federal Government in January under a cloud of controversy. The NCCG was suspended following concerns raised by private sector operators with certain aspects of the code and the announcement by the General Overseer of one of Nigeria’s biggest Christian denominations, Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God that he was stepping down as head of the church in compliance with the tenure limit stipulated by the code of conduct not-for-profit bodies. Adeboye’s decision to step down as head of the church prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to fire the former FRC executive secretary, Jim Obaze. The new executive secretary, Daniel Asapokhai told Thisday that a board committee to supervise the planned reintroduction of the code has been constituted and a draft document would be presented to the public within the next six months for input and suggestions.

The director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo allegedly received a severance package of ₦104 million from the commission shortly after he was named DG in 2015. He was a SEC executive commissioner when former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed him to lead the regulator on May 22, 2015. On assuming office as DG, he allegedly paid himself the hefty package as an entitlement for being an executive commissioner for two and a half years, according to multiple reports in the Nigerian press citing documents shown to lawmakers. In a petition to the House of Representatives, Gwarzo was said to have demanded a severance package entitled to a commissioner on assuming the SEC top job, despite opposition by the acting head of the regulator’s legal department. The petition also accuses Gwarzo of awarding contracts to companies controlled by his family and friends, in violation of SEC rules, saying these companies were “used to carry out illegal transactions”.

Suggestions

  • The attack in Yobe is a pointer to efforts by Boko Haram at resuming operations in areas they were previously active in. Most of their recent attacks have been to the North, East and slightly south of Maiduguri. However, the vast expanse of space in that region makes it easy for Boko Haram to traverse the region and carry out operations. The specific targeting of the military base also shows the use of intelligence. There is a need for the Nigerian military to increase ISR in order to identify suspicious movements and activities that could likely be the terrorist group. Without improved ISR, and a doctrine of relentless pursuit, Boko Haram will continue to sneak behind the lines of the Nigerian Army and cause damage.
  • Revelations of the nature that were made by the Senate are indicative of one thing – while revenue generation is an issue for the Nigerian government, wastage, pilfering and loss of a sizeable portion of generated revenue is an equally big problem. With these revelations, we hope that the committee has collated facts that are sufficient to prosecute those involved where they are seen to have run foul of the law and bring them to book before a court of law. It is at this prosecution and conviction point, the consequences, that Nigeria has failed thus far.
  • The NCCG, which was originally the initiative of Goodluck Jonathan’s industry, trade and investment minister Olusegun Aganga generated such breathless media and public scrutiny because of the perception of an attack by an administration headed by a Muslim President on Christian, mostly Evangelical Pentecostal organisations that it is worth noting that the code applied not only to churches, but “all not-for-profit groups including charitable, educational, professional/scientific … and other organisations with similar missions.” There was very little negative reaction from many of these organisations, including the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. Christian bodies unsuccessfully lobbied the former President in 2015 and lost a court case against the trade ministry in the same year. In a country where religious – and particularly Pentecostal Evangelical bodies – routinely grapple with succession scandals and financial malfeasance, a code which seeks not to hamper the advisory and spiritual roles of religious leaders but merely institute some structure and order to their administrative/financial capacities should not court such perplexing controversy.
  • The SEC is on the brink of ordering a forensic audit into the affairs of oil services firm Oando, after its investigations turned up possible violations including the declaration of false profits, insider trading and other corporate governance concerns, allegations that the firm has vigorously contested and led to significant infighting and name calling within and outside the company. The bourses in Lagos and Johannesburg, where Oando shares are listed, have suspended trading on the advice of SEC although the NSE partially lifted its suspension on Monday. While many view these revelations about the SEC DG as linked to the Oando saga, it is important to separate the man, Gwarzo and his actions from SEC, an institution and its actions. It is perfectly possible to investigate these allegations against Gwarzo while SEC continues its investigations into Oando at the same time. If Gwarzo is found guilty, he should bear the full consequences the law prescribes, but it should not stop SEC from carrying out its duties as an institution in the Oando case. The world is watching how this matter is handled and its outcome will tell on how investors gauge the maturity of the Nigerian corporate market.