Corporate Governance Code: Non-compliant Operators Risk Sanctions

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Emma Okonji

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator has urged industry stakeholders to embrace the corporate governance code and strive towards full compliance. The agency has also assured constant review of the principles in consultation with stakeholders to ensure alignment with global best practices and standards at all times.

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who gave the advice in Kano recently, however warned that non-compliance would attract severe sanction.

Since it introduced the compulsory adoption of corporate governance code in the telecoms sector in 2016, the NCC team has embarked on sensitisation campaign across zones, designed to create more awareness on the importance of corporate governance code in the telecoms sector, and the Kano sensitisation campaign tour was one of such campaigns.

Danbatta, who spoke passionately about the importance of the code to telecoms development, said although a regime of sanctions has been put in place to facilitate compliance, a regime of reward and recognition for best practices has equally been developed to recognise full adoption and consistent compliance of the code.
“All key issues of concerns or suggestions for improvements agreed to at these zonal sensitisation workshops shall be collated and considered during subsequent reviews.

“We are mandating adoption and compliance as no serious corporate entity can claim non-adherence to international best practices or non-adherence to ethical practices. The code only sets a framework to monitor actual compliance. Mindful of compliance cost, the code in its principles has categorised companies within the sector to which the code is applicable,” Danbatta said.

The Code of Corporate Governance for the telecommunications industry was developed through an Industry Working Group and presented to stakeholders in June, 2014 and was driven on voluntary compliance basis for two years up to June, 2016. During that period, some compliance levels evaluation was undertaken and the need to migrate compliance to a mandatory level was duly established. At an industry consultation held in Lagos in June, 2016 migration of the applicability and compliance levels reporting from voluntary to mandatory was formally announced and adopted by stakeholders. However, consistent with the regulator’s open and transparent approach to discharging its regulatory oversights the Commission further developed a programme for further stakeholders’ sensitisation workshops anchored on zonal basis to further enlighten and gain more robust stakeholders’ buy-in to ensure attainment of the objectives of the code.

While addressing the people of Kano, which falls under the North-west zone, Danbatta said: “the campaign is geared towards sensitisation and informed enlightenment of the industry stakeholders and the general public of the existence of the code, and to critically draw their attention to the adopted international best practices and principles enunciated therein.”
He said the code principles were now mandatory baselines expected to reflect the international features of the industry.