Stakeholders in the telecommunications industry have agreed that discipline in the both the private and public ICT workplace is the primary panacea to making the Code of Corporate Governance, as initiated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), work.
Speaking in Lagos at a Stakeholder Sensitization Workshop on the Code of Corporate Governance for the Telecommunications Industry, stakeholders agreed that the institutionalization of the Code was necessary, but certain other factors should come into play to make it operational.
According to the President of the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) company management is key in ensuring the workability of the code. He argued that the industry has grown without the prior adoption of Code, therefore the NCC should structure it in a way that there should be a reflection of the different applications of the code between small firms and big firms in the industry.
Chairman, Diamond Bank, Chris Ugbechie pointed out that conflict of interest should be considered in executing the provisions of the Code because the biggest issue in Corporate Governance is corporate values and culture.
In his keynote address, the Chairman, Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) Adedotun Suleiman reiterated the need to amend and clarify some parts of the code, which the NCC said will be reviewed every two years.
In his speech, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta noted that the structuring of the Code of Corporate Governance in the industry was to drive down overall management risks and vulnerabilities; adding that he hoped that the revised Code of Corporate Governance would not only assist in enhancing business prosperity and corporate accountability but help in consolidating on the gains of the telecoms sector to the nation’s economy and attract stronger stakeholders’ support.
He posited: “We are at the threshold of the next Telecoms revolution in Nigeria and we must position to avoid the consequent disruption that will accompany it. The strategic objective is to entrench the Code as an operational baseline from which entities can aspire to higher performance standards.”
He further pointed out that the Code was also aimed at furthering four key areas as stipulated in his administration’s 8-Point Agenda.
The four areas include the Promotion of ICT Innovation and Investment, as the sector becomes more investment attractive; Facilitation of Strategic Collaboration and partnership, as there will be greater synergy in the sector which will build trust and lead to greater opportunity for self-regulation; Promotion of Fair Competition and Inclusive Growth, enhancing sustainability; and Regulatory Excellence and Operational Efficiency, putting the industry in a leading position to pull the Country in the economic growth direction it is presently being redirected.
Prof. Danbatta stated that sustaining improvement in standards of international best practices will ensure that the sector is strongly positioned to play the facilitator or enabler role which it has come to represent in the contemporary world economic ecosystem.
He said that much as the Commission is proud of the successes recorded over the years, it is not resting on its oars but rather is energized to push harder for even greater performance as the world economy pivots to one where telecommunications and indeed ICT becomes the major driver of growth in every sector.
It will be recalled that the NCC, in October 2012, under the administration of the former EVC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, constituted that Nigerian Telecommunications Sector Corporate Governance Working Group (CGWG), with membership drawn from across the Nigerian telecommunications industry.
The CGWG developed the code which was a voluntary code of leading practices aimed at regulating corporate behaviour and practices of companies within the industry.
In 2014, the Code was adopted for use by companies who wished to use it to develop their corporate governance ethics.
However, in 2016 the NCC, under Prof. Danbatta made adoption of the Code mandatory with a regime of compliance level monitoring instituted, and an enforcement framework developed.