The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN) has urged the federal government to invest more in training its staff on Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
Mr. Bode Ayeku, ICSAN President said this during a media parley on Thursday in Lagos.
He said that such training was necessary for the government to leverage technology to eliminate corruption and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Ayeku said that massive investment in ICT would also be helpful in electoral processes to eliminate compromise, ballot snatching, and mishaps with transporting ballot boxes.
“COVID-19 has brought about a change in mindset and the way things are done.
“When you take away physical interactions and you say deal with us electronically, many issues with corruption, compromise, unethical practices, and bureaucracy would be done away with.
“I would expect the government to this year say they are investing in training its staff on ICT and migrating to digital archives which would enable access by anyone in any part of the world,” he said.
On managing the disruptions of COVID-19 on the economy, the ICSAN President said that principles of corporate governance, which are transparency, fairness, responsibility, and accountability, can be useful.
“COVID-19 has destabilized all structures in place and corporate governance principles when employed can actually be used to reset and restart operations properly.
“Companies and customers that entered into various contractual obligations before the pandemic can with transparency come together to address issues affecting the issues caused by the pandemic.
“This is not the time to count losses or apply force majure, as parties must responsibly put issues on the table, address it transparently as there would be life after COVID-19 and relationships must not be destroyed.
“Empathy and fairness must be employed by both employers and employees as this would encourage loyalty by the end of the pandemic,” he said.
The ICSAN President commended the private sector on adherence to the 2018 code of corporate governance conduct.
“However, the public sector, and I mean all government parastatals and agencies, must capitalize on employing a compliance officer who should be a chartered secretary to help entrench the practices of corporate governance pending when one for the public sector can be created,” he said.
Ayeku also spoke on ways to further improve the nation’s ranking on the ease of doing business.
“Nothing distorts the private sector than unpredictable government policies or the reversal of policies at will.
“Therefore, there must be alignment and sound collaboration among all agencies of government to improve the ease at which business operations are run and handled in the nation.
“Another thing to consider to improve investment is the need to respect the rule of law.
“Investors are visitors and they appreciate an environment that is conducive for business and respect the rule of law,” he said.
He also called for speedy and faithful implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), import-substitution, development of the agricultural sector, and concerted effort to reduce the cost of governance.
These, he explained, would help the nation overcome the travails associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
He said that massive investment in technology to enhance local production with its enormous multiplier effect on the economy was beneficial to improving the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.
“If you do not have control over your income, you must have control over your expenses,” he said.
Speaking on the proposed closure of the 3rd mainland bridge for six months from July, Ayeku urged businesses to put in place facilities that would enable employees to work from home.
He said this was to reduce health challenges resulting from long hours in traffic by commuters.
Ayeku said that the Institute had been able to cope with the ongoing pandemic, as it had migrated to a digital platform since last year.
“All we had to do was harvest what was already in place, observe all safety precautions and segment reopening of activities to capture targeted stakeholders,” he said.
Addressing the incidence of unclaimed dividends, Ayeku stressed the need for updating and keeping of shareholders register and also fostering cordial communication and relationships.
“Companies must continue to publish amounts of unclaimed dividends and make efforts to synergize and simplify the process across the board,” he said.
The ICSAN President commended the efforts of the government at handling the coronavirus since the nation recorded its first case in February.
He implored citizens to complement the efforts of the government by adhering to all safety precautions to eradicate the pandemic completely from the nation.
“I am very impressed with the way the government has handled the pandemic even though more can be done by building more facilities.
“Citizens, however, have to do more by taking precautions to quickly eradicate this problem, as government cannot be everywhere to ensure compliance,” he said.
The ICSAN President said that the efforts to change the name of the Institute to Chartered Governance Institute of Nigeria had begun.
“This name change has been done by our contemporaries in other countries such as South Africa, United Kingdom, Canada, and others to accommodate the evolved roles and expanded scope of secretaries,” he said.