By Rukayat Moisemhe
Olusegun Aganga, former Minister of Finance, says continuity and implementation of the nation’s various policies is critical to engendering economic transformation.
Aganga who is also Chairman, Leadway Pension PFA, said this at the 2023 edition of the Chartered Institute of Directors Nigeria (CIoD) Annual Directors Conference on Thursday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the hybrid event has the theme, “Driving Nigeria’s Economic Transformation and Diversification: “The Role of Corporate Governance”.
He also said doing so should be with strengthening its institutions through sound corporate governance structure.
He stated that while every successive governments in Nigeria had talked about the need to transform and diversify the economy, none had identified corporate governance as a major catalyst for driving that transformation.
He said that Nigeria, with its vast potential and human resources, has an incredible opportunity to redefine its economic landscape through effective corporate governance.
“Nigeria commenced the implementation of its industrial plan in 2011 and officially launched it in 2014 to diversify the economy and then put it in the cooler for eight years.
“As result the growth of manufacturing’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which was in double digits throughout 2011 to 2014 peaking at 24.59 per cent in 2013 crashed to negative 1.46 per cent in 2015, another negative 4.32 per cent in 2016 and only grew marginally by 2.45 per cent in 2022.
“If it had been implemented rigourously, Nigeria would have become a top competitive global exporter of at least three or four of the 13 products identified for export by now,” he said.
Aganga noted that while a code of corporate governance for the private sector had been issued, leaving out same for the public sector was a recipe for economic diversification and transformation failure.
He said the full implementation of the Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance in the public sector would have a dramatic and positive effect on our economic institutions.
Aganga urged the National Assembly to amend the Acts which established ministries and their agencies to make the adoption of the code mandatory for the public sector.
He also said that the Acts should specify the skills, competence, and professional experiences required to chair the board and to be in the executive management team of an agency.
“That was one of the strategies employed to have strong governance and effective leadership at the Sovereign Wealth Fund (Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority) and which regulators like National Pension Commission (PenCom) have used effectively to regulate the pension industry which is now one of the best regulated sectors.
“Economic institutions and agencies must henceforth be held accountable, as any industrial plan will fail if the relevant economic institutions are weak.
“Dividends of democracy should not be about sharing positions to party loyalists but should be about good governance where key Performance Indicators (KPI) are set, and a comprehensive review of their performance regularly undertaken before any reappointments.
“Both the private and public sectors need to show more commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices as investors are beginning to demand this to invest in companies and countries,” he said.
The former minister charged CIoD to advocate and facilitate the adoption of corporate governance code in the public sector for efficient and effective corporate governance practices to thrive in the country.
He added that the institute must develop an index for ranking corporate governance in the public sector, particularly the institutions responsible for economic diversification and transformation.
Alhaji Tijjani Borodo, President, CIoD, said in organising the conference, the institute intends to proffer far-reaching innovative solutions in governance, to foster a conductive environment that would enhance private sector participation in the Nigerian economy.
He said the 2023 ADC’s theme highlighted the crucial role that corporate governance plays in advancing the nation’s economic growth and development.
“Within this overarching theme, we have chosen four subthemes that specifically address key sectors and their potential for Nigeria’s economic transformation.
“Our conference will delve into the pivotal role corporate governance can play in unleashing the potential of these sectors, thus contributing to the larger goal of national economic transformation.
“Together, we will explore innovative strategies, share best practices, and develop actionable solutions to drive Nigeria’s economic transformation,” he said.
Borodo reiterated the institute’s commitment to establishing and maintaining connections among business leaders at the highest levels and collaborating with the government to foster business-friendly policies, particularly in the face of challenging circumstances. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa