The Institute of Directors (IoD) says the present administration s efforts at diversification of the economy from oil exports gives hope of the country becoming a stronger nation.
Chief Chris Okunowo, IoD President, made the assertion at the Institute’s 37th Annual General Meeting (AGM) which held physically and virtually on Thursday in Lagos.
Okunowo said that government’s implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan and the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (2021-2025) emphasised the need to diversify Nigeria’s economy and ensure growth in non-oil exports.
He said the move implied that Nigeria was showing what recovery could mean for countries that had been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant economic and security crises.
“We expect that as the government focuses on building an enduring business environment through renewable capacity, women and youth empowerment, climate-smart agriculture and overall economic diversification, we can be hopeful for a Nigeria that is on the path to becoming a strong nation,” he said.
Okunowo stated that the pandemic presented an opportunity to reset Nigeria’s economy by consolidating on the ongoing reforms related to the removal of fuel and electricity subsidies and a massive programme on harmonisation of citizen’s data.
“Others include implementation of security reforms and sanitising the business environment, which are crucial to attracting investment into critical sectors of the economy.
“State governments must be encouraged to explore and exploit the opportunities and resources in their respective states.
“Stronger development cooperation, supporting efforts to contain the pandemic and extending economic and financial assistance to countries hardest hit by the crisis, will remain critical for accelerating recovery and putting the world back on the trajectory of sustainable development.
“The urgency of these reforms must be prioritised going into the next decade,” he said.
On corporate governance and ethics, the IoD President noted that the emergence of the pandemic presented the need for new regulatory frameworks to deal with the hitherto unconventional issues of modern-day business environment.
Some of which, he said, include health emergency situations that have inherent commercial risks and impact on businesses and corporate governance obligations.
Okunowo noted that given the growing concern for global environmental issues and the need to preserve the ecosystems, governance via sustainability reporting had become more important to developed and developing economies.
“At both continental and global levels, the fight against unethical practices and poor governance has continued to receive attention.
“And Nigeria has not been left out of these efforts to entrench best practices in the directorship and management of companies, organisations and institutions.
“With the renewed zeal of private sector organisations like IoD Nigeria, government has had no choice but to hearken to the voice of reason and put in place stricter policies to maintain corporate Nigeria’s integrity.
“It is worthy of note that because of this, the 2018 Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance, came into practice in January 2019.
“While corporate financial reporting, based on the provisions and related guidelines of the code, took effect from Jan. 1, 2020.
“Government and other key agencies like the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange, (NSE) have had to release several guidelines in the course of 2020 and part of 2021.
“As an Institute, during the year under review, we pushed for advocacy for sound corporate governance practice in key sectors of the economy.
“This was done through our position papers, advocacy programmes; particularly on the CAMA Bill and, later, the CAMA 2020 Act, and we paid advocacy visits to relevant organisations,” he said.
Okunowo described the achievements of his tenure which would end soon as the product of collective efforts.
He listed some of the achievements under his leadership to include launch of the Young Directors Forum, creation of the Directors’ handbook, IoD House development and system automation of the secretariat, among others.
“I am also pleased to note that loD Nigeria has continued to be increasingly relevant, as it plays more prominent and leading roles in the Nigerian business community.
“We owe our past leaders a debt of gratitude, and I think their legacies and achievements will be best preserved, if we all continue to join hands to maintain an enduring institution that conforms to best global standards.
“Recognising that institutions are the long shadows of those who run them.
“loD Nigeria, in acknowledgment of the importance of upscaling, expanding and deepening the skills and knowledge of those that manage Nigeria’s top organisations, unfolded a five-year strategic programme in 2017 themed “Agenda of Reform and Progress.”
“I enjoin us all to be more optimistic about our reinvigorated role in upscaling the standards of our current level of performance and as the bastion and voice of ethics and corporate governance in the public and private sectors,” he said