The Footprints of a Silent Operator at CAC

I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen
-Frank Lloyd Wright
When the minister of trade and investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga announced late last year, at the closing of the 8th National Conference on Investment, that the country was targeting $16 billion (about N4.2 trillion) revenue from foreign direct investments (FDI) in 2013, it was undoubtedly clear to many analysts why the minister was so optimistic: the significant transformation in the Nigerian business environment owing to improvements in operations of organizations like the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). A few years ago, it was a herculean task to get a company registered for businesses in the country. This, among other factors, had lowered the global competitiveness rating of Nigeria in the comity of nations because many foreign firms hoping to do businesses in the country felt frustrated by the cumbersome process of getting official recognition as registered entities.
Shortly after his appointment as the registrar-general and chief executive officer of the CAC in November, 2009, Bello Mahmud left no one in doubt about his determination to lift Commission to greater heights. This was unmistakable judging from the way he handled the protracted face-off between then chairman of the agency’s Board of Directors, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim and its employees, which had mired the CAC in a crisis of some sort prior to Mahmud’s assumption of duty as RG.
As one of the key stakeholders of the CAC for many years, I know for a fact that before his ascension to the position of its CEO, the Commission was, to a reasonable extend, still trudging. The CAC’s processes had hitherto been fully automated and companies’ registration-from name reservation up to certificate generation-was being done electronically. But it was still unable to render its services electronically-on-line real time, through the web-as fast and efficient as possible, without the various stakeholder such as lawyers, chartered accountants and other applicants having to visit its offices physically. The story has however changed with the coming of Bello Mahmud.  It is also to the credit of this reputable lawyer, who has had a distinguished career in private practice, that the CAC’s clients are now able to file their annual returns in good time. This is in addition to also making-within reasonable space of time- other statutory filings required of registered companies, Business Names and Incorporated Trustees, all in compliance with provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA). Besides, it was Bello Mahmud, who had also left an indelible mark when he served as attorney-general and commissioner for justice in Sokoto State from 1996 to 1999, that put practical steps to ensure that state offices of the CAC have become not only very functional, but that they are also at par with the head office in all aspects of registration services. Beyond all these, the incumbent RG nudged the CAC higher by ensuring that the Commission’s dream of 24-hour registration of companies has become a reality. This has upped the number of registered business entities in the country significantly, from less than 1.2 million in December, 2009 when he was appointed to almost 3 million in a space of two years; that is, by December, 2011. For instance, available records showed that the CAC had registered almost 900,000 companies, over 1.9 million business names and almost 50,000 incorporated trustees as at end of December, 2011. Most of these successes were recorded following Mahmud’s decision to upgrade the Commission’s registration software, i.e. Content Pinnacle, one of whose features is the e-payment portal that enables clients to make online payments for the commission’s services.
Although Mahmud appears to be media shy, this calm and collected CEO at the CAC no doubt appreciates the value of teamwork. He believes, like Joe Paterno said, that “When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality”. He has, in line with his believe in the above saying, tremendously improved the welfare and working conditions of employees at the Commission. Not only that, within less than three years of his stewardship, the CAC now boasts of a befitting Corporate Headquarters building-an imposing edifice-in Maitama District of Abuja. He has also stepped up efforts to ensure that the Commission builds its own offices in all the states of the Federation to save it the huge costs of renting offices nationwide. So far, it has built its state offices in at least 20 of the 36 states. And unlike many federal government agencies that had to resort to bank loans even to build their head offices in Abuja, Mahmud’s management team achieved all these feats within the CAC’s internally generated revenue. This is besides the significant improvements in its annual revenue remittances to the Federation Account. The remittances have increased from N3 billion when he took over to over N5.5 billion as at end of 2012.
Not done yet, Bello Mahmud said recently that he will work harder to ensure that the CAC evolves into a world-class companies Registry that is driven by the best technology and a highly motivated workforce, which will render excellent services,  keep accurate and reliable companies records, and have an effective enforcement capability that ensures substantial compliance with the extant rules by all registered entities in Nigeria.

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