FRC acts suspended, but not amended or repealed
Since the recent implementation of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) Governance Code 2016, which led to the controversial exit of Pastor Enoch Adeboye as the General Overseer (GO) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Nigeria, controversies and mixed reactions have continued to trail the exercise.
While some commended the development, others criticised it, questioning government’s interference in how religious organisations are run, others are of the opinion that if the development is in line with the provisions of law, there is nothing wrong with it, after all, the same law had been strictly applied in the cases of some bank executives, who were asked to leave leadership positions.
Meanwhile, there are insinuations in some quarters that the ousted chairman of the Council, Mr. Jim Obazee, who was once a zonal pastor in the RCCG, had a personal axe to grind with Adeboye and the church leadership before now. It was also alleged that last year, Obazee was prevailed upon by the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enenamah, to suspend implementation of the law to allow for a review, following criticism that earlier trailed it.
The former FRC boss was said to have discountenanced the request and continued with the implementation, as it concerns churches.
He was recently relieved of his position by the Federal Government and many believe it is not unconnected with Adeboye’s stepping aside as RCCG, Nigeria’s General Overseer.
Some Christian and Muslim clerics have bared their minds on the issue.
The FRC, established by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria Act, No. 6, 2011, is under the supervision of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
The Council is responsible for, among other things, developing and publishing accounting and financial reporting standards to be observed in the preparation of financial statements of public entities in Nigeria and related matters.
Governance Code 2016 of the Act encompasses three sectors: the private, the public and not-for-profit.
It is the not-for-profit sector, sometimes referred to as the Benevolent Sector, the Third Sector or the Civil Society Sector that religious bodies fall under.
The code reads in part: “The founder or leader of a NFPO (not-for-profit organisation) occupies a special position in the organisation and is committed to the success and longevity of the NFPO.
“Accordingly, a founder or leader should not take on too many responsibilities in the organisation or have an indefinite term in the running of the organisation.
“Where, for any reason, a founder or leader of NFPO also occupies any of the three governance positions of chairmanship of the board of trustees, the governing board or council, and the headship of the executive management (or their governance equivalents), the following provisions shall apply before the end of the organisation’s financial year in which this code takes effect.
“The founder or leader shall cease to occupy these three governance positions simultaneously. This is to ensure the separation of powers and avoid possible concentration of powers in one individual.
“The founder or leader may, however, choose- subject to the agreement of the organisation’s apex authority as expressed in the annual general assembly, annual meeting, annual stakeholder engagement, annual conference, annual synod, annual fellowship assembly or their equivalents- only one of these three governance positions, subject to his current tenure.
“This is to ensure a clear division of responsibilities at the head of the organisation between the running of the governing body and the executive responsibility for the management and fulfilment of the organisation’s mission.
“Where the founder or leader has occupied all or any of these three governance positions for more than 20 years or is aged 70 years or above, the choice in the section above should only relate to the board of trustees, as in section below, except the constitution of the organisation otherwise provides.”
Despite the uproar and controversy surrounding it, as well as the suspension of its implementation, the law subsists and government’s action only amounts to postponing the dooms day, until it is amended or repealed.