The Gradual Transformation in CAC

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Abubakar Ismail writes that with the recent automation of its system, the Corporate Affairs Commission has been transformed to a model public agency

Many years ago, one of the biggest frustrations of investors and potential investors within Nigeria and from outside the country was the difficulty in the process of registering a company, filing annual returns and other business matters to do with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). Many foreign investors who wanted to do business in the country ended up changing their minds when they discovered the trouble it took to incorporate their firms. This, for many potential foreign investors, was a first sign that a lot of bureaucracies awaited them even after incorporation. As such, they often backed out even before they fully got in.

The CAC has however significantly transformed over years. The previous management did a lot to modernise the operations and automate the agency’s systems. But the agency still wasn’t able to deliver services online-real time, which is a key ingredient in speeding up the process of company registration and filings. So, when Bello Mahmud emerged as the Commission’s Registrar General in 2009, there was still a lot of work to be done to realise the Vision of its founders. He then vowed to make the CAC a model public agency of reference in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and general excellence.

Mr. Mahmud, who recognised that industrial harmony at the workplace was critical for any transformation of the systems and processes began by having robust engagements with the different strata of the workforce, thereby enthroning a remarkable working atmosphere at the Commission.

Having done that, the reputable lawyer, who had earlier distinguished himself in private practice, went on to make business easier for companies in Nigeria. Mahmud introduced several reforms in the systems and processes. He did not only enhance the systems and processes at the CAC but also identified the key impediments to quick registration of companies and filing of returns. One after the other, he fixed the challenges so identified through various solutions that altered the status-quo, reduced the cost of operations, and improved efficiency. These changes ultimately led to steep reduction in the time required to register a new company or file annual returns or conduct other transactions at the nation’s business Registry. Today, companies file their annual returns in good time. Other statutory filings required of registered companies, Business Names and Incorporated Trustees are also done speedily, making businesses and stakeholders extremely delighted. Why shouldn’t they? These are mandatory requirements that they need to fulfill in compliance with provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).

While some stakeholders are amazed at the turnaround at the CAC under Bello Mahmud, it came as no surprise to people who knew him from way back in the days. This is because between 1996 to 1999 when he served as Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Sokoto State, he made similar strides that helped to enhance the Judiciary in the State.
Today, at the CAC, he has initiated and implemented plans that have integrated the Commission’s State Offices across the country with the Head Office in Abuja. He also made sure that the efficiency and effectiveness in CAC’s operations do not stop at the Head Office. All State Offices have been compelled to up their game to meet expected standards.

The impact of these reforms has been obvious. For example, between 2009 and 2011, the CAC registered almost 900,000 companies, over 1.9 million business names and almost 50,000 incorporated trustees. In fact, the number of registered business entities has gone up from less than 1.2 million in December, 2009 shortly after he took over, to about 3 million as at end of 2015. From statistics, the figures are much higher today. Most of these successes were recorded following Mahmud’s decision to upgrade the Commission’s registration software.

It is said that the greatest asset of any company is its workforce. The best of strategies can fail if there aren’t the right human resources to implement them. In recognition of this fact, the current CAC Registrar-General made tremendous efforts to improve the welfare and working conditions of the employees, he ensured that the Head Office in Maitama District of Abuja is made a befitting operations environment for staff and stakeholders alike. Using internally generated revenue, the RG also initiated plans to ensure that the Commission builds its own offices in all the 36 states of the Federation. These are expected to save the Commission from paying huge rents to landlords for buildings, some of which are not very conducive with the very sensitive work that goes on at the CAC.

The story of change at the CAC will not be complete without a mention of the fact that Bello Mahmud has been able to improve internally generated revenue, moving it from N3 billion when he took over to about 9 billion as at end of 2016.

Bello Mahmud once said that his vision for the CAC is to make it a world-class companies Registry that will keep accurate and reliable company records using the best technology and driven by a well-motivated workforce. As he concludes his second tenure as the Commission’s CEO, Mr. Mahmud’s achievements so far show clearly that the gentleman has matched words with action.

Bello Mahmud’s idea of making the Commission a world class companies Registry perfectly fits into the present Administration’s agenda of enabling the Nigerian business environment by removing bureaucratic bottlenecks and equally easing doing business for rapid transformation and economic development.
– Ismail wrote from Tudun Wada, Kaduna, Kaduna State