By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
ABUJA — The real reasons for the sack of former Executive Secretary of Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, FRCN, Mr. Jim Obazee, emerged yesterday, with Presidency sources disclosing that he was removed for procedural breaches.
A source, who did not want to be mentioned, revealed that the removal of Mr. Obazee based on advice of the Attorney General of the Federation had been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari before the decision of the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, to step aside as head of RCCG in Nigeria.
It was learned in Abuja that contrary to the widely held opinion that Obazee was sacked because he forced Pastor Adeboye to resign, the resignation of the pastor and the removal of the Executive Secretary were mere co-incidence, as Obazee’s sack was to be announced at the same period, whether or not the pastor resigned.
The source said: “The sack of Obazee had nothing to do with the decision of the General Overseer of RCCG, Pastor Adeboye to resign, retire, step aside or whatever. It was just a co-incidence.
“Even if Adeboye had not stepped aside, the man (Obazee) was gone. It had absolutely nothing to do with the pastor. The key issue is that there is a procedure for doing things all over the world but he completely ignored it.”
The source explained that the code in question had not gone through the entire process before Obazee announced that it was law and must be complied with.
According to it, it should have been approved by the board of the FRCN after due inputs from public hearings, passed to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, who would then present it to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, and obtain the cabinet approval before the FRCN could issue it for compliance.
Even at that, the source said the code was not a law but best practice guidelines and that organisations were meant to comply or explain why they won’t comply.
Process of passing the code
It explained: “The corporate governance code, which is a regulatory guideline for corporate organisation meant to guide both public and private (profit and non-profit) organisations, is a code that the FRCN is working on.
“There is a process of passing that code. The committee working on it was inaugurated by the last administration. But the process of passing that code meant that by the time that committee finishes working on it, there were supposed to be public hearings and all that. By the time the committee finishes its work, that code was supposed to get to the governing board (of FRCN) for approval.
“But as you know, all the boards were dissolved. So the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment was, in effect, the board (for the parastatals that he was supervising). When it goes through the board, it would be submitted to the Federal Executive Council to give approval for it to be issued.
Code not a law but regulatory guideline
“Some people have interpreted it wrongly. It is not a law. It is a regulatory guideline and the basic problem was that the FRCN unilaterally decided to come out. And in essence this is something that was going to affect corporate organisations, the way businesses were being run in a very significant way.
“This administration is saying we want to make the way businesses are done in Nigeria easier. We don’t need further bottlenecks. We need to make it easier. And the corporate world was saying, ‘look, this governance code hasn’t got down with us. We needed to understand it, we needed to make inputs into it.’
“So, when the FRCN unilaterally took a decision on it, the minister said suspend it and explain and note the concerns from the various corporate organisations, because it was supposed to have come to the minister but the Executive Secretary of FRCN went ahead on his own and issued the code.
Comply or explain
“There are all kinds of letters from various corporate organisations. The ministry was inundated with all kinds of letters everywhere. The issue of the churches and other non-profit organisations were just minor. It wasn’t something we were even thinking about. Because even in that code, what the Corporate Governance Code says about the churches was ‘comply or explain.’ It wasn’t a law. I don’t know how the churches understood it but there was no law that says you must retire. It says comply or explain. In effect, it was best practice advisory. That was what it was.
“But when the executive secretary literally broke all procedural laws of issuing it, the minister queried him and said this is not the way things are supposed to be but he disregarded it and literally came out again in the public to say that the code had been issued and it is law.
“So, the president with the advice of the AGF, because the AGF gave the advice that that was not the right thing to do. The President decided to suspend the code and terminate his appointment, reconstitute the FRC as it is. That was exactly what happened.”