Nigerian Bar Association, Section on Business Law hosts Virtual Demo of CAC Platform

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On Thursday, 28th January 2020, the NBA-SBL in collaboration with the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Institute of Directors, Nigeria (IoD Nigeria) held a virtual demo of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Online Platform to showcase the new online portal to members of their organisations. To begin, the NBA SBL administrator, Endurance Uhumuavbi invited Ayuli Jemide, President, NBA-SBL, Oscar Onyema, CEO, NSE and Chief Chris Okunowo, President, IoD Nigeria to give their opening remarks.

In his remarks, Ayuli Jemide described the event as a “public interest event” and highlighted three main reasons for having it,

“First, over 3.1 million entities are registered with the CAC, 55% of them are companies, 40% of them are business names and the other 5%, not for profit associations. Therefore, 95% of entities registered with the CAC are the hub of the economy and this is where the GDP of the nation is grown. And every year, at least 2000 new entities are added; second, the CAC’s online platform is a laudable initiative which involved significant effort and finances to achieve. So, we see this as an opportunity to give them constructive feedback and intelligence that will improve the efficacy of portal for our collective benefits; and finally, the portal (as is) has addressed a number of the issues experienced in CAC registrations, by lawyers and professionals, whose livelihoods are dependent on this portal. We have had a myriad of issues with the CAC over delivery of services which has affected the credibility of lawyers in the business community.

Oscar Onyema on behalf of the National Council on Management of the NSE congratulated the Registrar General, Alhaji Garba Abubakar and his team at the Corporate affairs commission on this feat, adding,

“we’re also reminded of the work of the CAC guided by the Presidential Enabling Business Council (PEBEC), which led to the operationalization of online business registrations, and the 24 hour turnaround time for registrations, these reforms contributed in no small measure to the improvements seen in Nigeria’s in Nigeria’s ease of doing business rankings.”

In his opening remarks, Chris Okunowo stated that “the CAC has consistently been one of the most responsive entities in the country, delivering excellent quality service, and it is in this spirit of innovation that the CAC unveils its digital platform today.”

Following the opening remarks, Garba Abubakar was invited to give his introductory remarks and showcase a demo of the portal.  In his remarks, he stated, that,

“the building of the portal was achieved at no additional cost to the organization because we convinced the vendor commissioned in 2014 to upgrade to the standards of the CAMA 2020.” He added, “we have 59,357 applications for registration of company limited by shares and 10,665 applications have been approved. On name reservation, we received 27,274 applications, 14,409 have been approved 7599 denied.”

He acknowledged the backlog on the portal, clarifying that a huge portion of it was because pending applications filed prior to the CAMA 2020 were queried. He added that another reason for the delay was the limited manpower as most employees are restricted by the government to work-from-home and only those with equipped electronic devices at their disposal can attend to applications.  He added, however, that, “we have tried to remedy this by granting every application filed in 2020 (except those queried and returned to the applicant) to reduce the backlog.”

The DG and some technical assistants at the CAC proceeded to give a live demonstration of how to use the portal in conducting searches, incorporation, the options of post-incorporation, accreditation and others.

How to register, in a nutshell:

A user aged 18years and above, can register an entity using the CAC portal with the following steps:

  1. Login to an existing account with the CAC or register to create a new account
  2. Reserve the name: first select the categorization (business name, company limited by shares or guarantee). Enter two name options and select the reason for name reservation search. Proceed to make payment. Name should be approved in 24-48hours.
  3. Register the entity: once approved, choose the sector or industry classification that most applies to the entity, fill all the required information and upload all the necessary documentation at once and pay the registration fee.
  4. Done! The organization is registered and barring any queries, a Certificate of Incorporation/Registration will be issued.

Kindly note that on the CAC website, pre.cac.gov.ng, there is a comprehensive video covering name reservation to certificate generation.

Key Takeaways from the Demonstration

  1. A user can either register as an accredited member of the CAC – which allows him/her to register different entities or as a public user who must be a director or trustee of the company.
  2. A user who encounters issues logging in with his/her username, he/she can use their email address registered with the CAC, instead.
  3. A user unable to make payments directly on the site, can make payment at his/her bank, using Remita.
  4. There is an in-built complaint box on the CAC website, as well as customer care numbers for users to record their challenges which are then escalated for resolution.
  5. There is a list of all the registered companies by the CAC and restricted words to guide users before sending in applications for name reservation.

The interactive event was well attended with over 2,500 registered participants and 742 questions asked. Some of those collated by Ozofu Ogiemudia, (Partner, UUBO and Ex-Chairman NBA-SBL Conference Planning Committee 2020) and posed to the DG CAC include:

Why are the user’s details automatically uploaded as one of the directors? What is the CAC doing about providing updates on pending applications? Why are the helplines provided are not being answered? What happens to post-incorporation documents prepared prior to the commencement of the portal? Can we access the portal be accessed from outside the country?

Recommendations

  1. CAC is advised to liaise with banks to introduce a segment on bank websites and apps similar to those for utilities payments to make payments easier.
  2. CAC advised to initiate plans to upgrade to an Artificial Intelligence (AI) operated system to increase rate of applications as although registration is done online, approval is still done manually.
  3. CAC is to improve customer care by increasing the number of people who man helplines and address online complaints.
  4. CAC is advised to include an auto populate feature on the website, such that previous users can skip repetitious steps once their name or accreditation number is inputted to speed up the process.
  5. CAC to include more measures to safeguard against fake receivership filings as currently, any accredited user can initiate post-incorporation activities on any company listed on the portal.

Expected Developments

  1. CAC will close manual submissions for incorporation by the end of March 2021. All manual applications filed in 2020 have until the end of March 2021 to send their documents via the designated couriers.
  2. CAC is working on on-boarding additional payment gateways
  3. CAC aims to include a wallet options to make the refund process more efficient. Typically, a user whose registration process is interrupted for some reason, might be required to make a new payment to complete registration, and subsequently, request a refund, which some attendees reported took 4months to 2 years. With the wallet, however, overpaid sum is left in the wallet for the applicant’s future use.
  4. CAC is in conversation to obtain amnesty for companies that have backlog of unfiled annual returns by reducing the fines owed and the number of years of Annual Returns required.
  5. CAC is working on a notification system to alert the registered contact person of a company when post-incorporation activities are initiated.

Watch the the recap on the NBA-SBL Youtube page to learn more about the post-incorporation processes.

The NBA-SBL President invited attendees to register their feedback in the competence management system on the NBA SBL website, promising that all feedback including those unattended to during the webinar will be shared with the DG, CAC.

The event ended with closing remarks by Efe Olotu, Partner, Corporate Finance/Business Advisory Group, at George Etomi & Partners, who thanked all the hosts, speakers, attendees and partners- Detail Solicitors, Streamsowers & Kohn, Advocaat Law firm, BTO Partners, Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie, Odujunrin & Adefulu, DOA and BusinessDay Legal Business.

 


The full recap is available on the NBA-SBL youtube page.

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