ICSAN 2020 Annual Conference Devises the Way forward for Comatose Economy
The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria, ICSAN 2020 annual conference ended a couple of weeks ago in Lagos but the import of the two-day conference keeps reverberating as it revolves around providing practicable solutions to some of the endemic challenges confronting the nation and its people especially in a new normal environment fostered on the nation by the effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In a pre conference media briefing, the President and chairman of the Institute, Mr. Bode Ayeku noted that the institute rather that brooding over challenges confronting the nation, would rather develop institutional members’ capacity for enhancing effective Corporate Governance Practices, building better organizations and corporate citizens in Africa.
The ICSAN president underscored the essence of the of the institute as a solution provider as he noted, “we are fully aware of the responsibilities that devolve on us as the champion of Corporate Governance and always strive to seize every opportunity to point out the ways good governance principles can be employed to solve our contemporary problems”.
This laudable motive and self imposed objective echoed throughout the conference’s deliberations. No doubt, this orientation informed the theme of the 2020 Annual Conference “Entrenching the Right Governance Framework for Economic Development and Sustainability”.
The theme is apt as it reflects the realties that the nation’s economy is undeniably challenged on many fronts with many concerned stakeholders already being apprehensive about the economy.
To this end, the ICSAN 2020 Conference assembled a crop of Nigerian egg-heads to creatively explore all avenues and decipher likely solutions to the nation’s consistent socio-economic regression.
One of such egg-heads is Mr. Olatunji Ope, Managing Partner, White Wall & Lysi and GreenDoor Africa. Speaking on the main theme of the conference, “Entrenching the Right Governance Framework for Economic Development and Sustainability”, Mr. Olatunji posited that Nigeria is not configured for economic development. The solution, according to the speaker, lies in applying the principles of corporate governance. Posting a poser on what foundations are there for growth in Nigeria? The very vast speaker confirmed for foundation for growth in any setting are, “education, industry and shared social values”
However, all these are faulty, lopsided and below par in the Nigerian society, a country he described as “a nation of raw material suppliers to the world”.
According to Ope, government is basically made up of career civil-servants and politician, he wonders how the desires of this group align with entrepreneurs and professionals? For economic development and sustainability, he suggests “collective action” as no nation can grow without the business working with government and vice-versa just as it is only proper for stakeholders to work with government.
Nigeria is only country that has individually strong people who excel in different fields across the world but lacks the ability to bring these people together, and harness their talent for the good of all through collective shared action or shared value, he explained.
The beauty of “collective action” according to the speaker is that it is a self reinforcing mechanism. “Nigeria has some of the best policies in the world but implementing those policies will ensure power shifts to the people and the government does not want to share power with the people” he challenged.
The challenge is for all of us to break logjam especially in a new normal situation. Mrs. Braimoh Anastasia and Mrs. Amina Oyagbola unearthed how governance principles can drive business against the background of the novelty and uncertainties of the New Normal.
According to Mrs. Braimoh, Deputy Director, at Securities and Exchange Commission, who was on ground to make her presentation, board quality and effectiveness are none negotiable in this era of new normal, “it is no longer business as usual”. Policy, procedures, processes and corporate culture of a company, are of utmost importance to the success of the business she explained highlighting, “privacy of stakeholders have been shifted”.
Similarly, she noted that ESG, disaster management issues and standard operative procedures have changed. In view of the new normal, all these issues have to be implemented with new vigour “deploying technology, creativity and dexterity”, Braimoh affirmed.
To win in a situation such as we have on our hands, Amina Oyagbola, Managing Consultant, AKMS Consulting in what she called “shifting the beginning” offered that “inclusive governance indicates you cannot afford to live in a silo. There must be proper alignment and the goal must be a win-win situation”.
According to Oyabola who spoke with the audience via video conferencing, “COVID-19 has revealed we are not on solid corporate governance as organizations” but we need efficient and effective decisions as “our brands are representative of the market we serve”.
While encouraging organisations to diversify and infuse young minds into their boards, Oyagbola noted that “having generation Y – Z isn’t about age but reflects the level of digital fitness”.
For the corporate titan, the changing nature of the work place requires that up-scaling and re-skilling are key as she assures that a whole range new jobs will be created, while it is also apparent that some jobs will disappear.
Beyond the popular sphere of the company secretary, he is now the conscience of the board/company, he is at the heart of key decisions and documenting them. This provides for integrating reporting which presents a holistic picture of the organization over and above financials, placing responsibility beyond profit, she noted. In all this, the need for effective and interactive communication cannot be overemphasized, Oyagbola added.
Mr. Hakeem Ogunniran, a former ICSAN president and Chairman of session who had earlier superintended over the “ICSAN Beyond 50” book presentation corroborated the ICSAN president, Oyagbola and numerous other speakers’ position asserting that “COVID -19 has changed our world”.
However, as a business person, Mr. Ogunniran who is the CEO, Eximia Realty Co., noted that there are areas to be attended to, these he noted include risks management, and impact assessment adding that the entrepreneur must state the mitigants. He lamented that while China has become the supply-chain capital of the world, 24 – 28 years after, Nigeria is still groping in the dark trying to align everything. “This is the era of trying to position your business in the digital ecosystem”, Ogunniran warned.
While launching the book, the former president noted with concern inconsistencies in policies while regretting that Nigeria has removed history from schools’ curricula. “On the other hand, ‘ICSAN beyond 50’ is a compendium of history and pictures as reference to the past and pointer the future. At ICSAN we keep records and this book surely presents invaluable materials for all and sundry”, he said, even as he highly recommends the book as he rounds-off the first session of the conference.
Presenting his thoughts on “Digitalization and Cyber Security: Impact on businesses”, Mr. Kachifu Inuwa, DG/CEO, National Information Technology Agency, NITDA represented by Dr. Yaya told the audience, “cyber resilience is average but we need to do more”. According to Dr. Yaha, the critical thing in cyber security is “awareness, awareness and awareness”.
To be fully aware and in charge, the speaker advised the audience to always embrace the 3-factor authentication model. These are ‘what you know’- your password; ‘What do you have’ – your signature and ‘who you are’ – biometric.
According the speaker, investment in ICT is important. “It is important for all multi-level companies to come together to solve the problem of cyber-security”.
Corroborating Dr. Yaya on Digitalisation and its import, Engr Bosoye Olalere, executive Chairman, Ajogbe Group, explained that digitalization enables us as a people to do what has not been possible before without face-to-face contact.
Despite its benefits, Bosoye lamented the global phenomenon which data breach has attained. “Through virtual menu, high impact learning, people/hackers have access to what is important to us without having contact with us, resulting in great losses to individuals and multinational corporations”. We need to come together to stem the tide of these cyber security breaches and its impact on businesses, Bosoye intoned.
In line with Dr. Yaya and Engr. Bosoye’s submissions, Mr. Bayo Olugbemi, President CIBN and Chairman of the second session submitted that the 21st century business world can reap enormous benefits from digitalization provided they can make the necessary investments. Mr. Olugbemi however warned, “we cannot fight cybercrime alone but to collaborate, raise awareness and make investment in that regard. We must be much more security conscious of the dangers that technology poses.”
As laudable and intellectually stimulating the conference was, ICSAN needs to go the last mile to achieve its desired effect for the conference and the nation’s economy and governance – “affect government and its policies”. To achieve this, the body needs to issue a communiqué on the conference to bring the government and relevant agencies to speed on the issues at stake and the way forward especially in a new normal world. This is the only possible guarantee that the time of the egg-heads was well invested.
The President Mr. Bode Ayeku has disclosed that ICSAN usually issue a communique at the end of every annual conference and important meetings and the “2020 annual conference will not be an exception”, he said while disclosing that “the process is already on”.