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CAMA: The road not taken

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It is incontestable that a great many people have broadly come to the recog- nition of the duality of man. He is body and soul, they say. The body in this recog- nition depicts the material part of every human being and the soul the animat- ing core. The material part, that is the body, is the tool for our manifestation and existence on earth. It is with the body the soul is able to connect with this earth for the fulfillment of his earthly sojourn.

When the soul pulls away, dis- carding the body, it is said of the man that he is dead or he has passed on, but most cultures, if not all believe that the soul continues to live in the Beyond. What the Beyond consists of, several planes of existence up to the Spiritual Realm, otherwise known as Paradise, is not the object of today’s reflection.

Suffices to state that the soul itself is the summation of the finer garments the spirit wraps around itself to be able to manifest and anchor in the different planes up to our immediate Beyond known as the Ethereal Realm. He becomes a human dweller of the earth with the material garment we call body.

The new Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020, CAMA, more than the repealed one of 1990, would seem to have given recognition to the proverbial duality of man. The amended Act is exhaustive, cov- ering practically every aspect of the pur- suit of the material, stating how we can go about it, forming association and the rules that govern such relationship and business. It is commendably quite com- prehensive. The aspect that concerns the soul is the contentious part.

It is the most delicate that requires knowledge, wisdom and guidance, and careful han- dling with such high degree of sensitivi- ty that those contemplating drawing up rules and regulations can muster. It is understandable that it is controversial. It is because man is spirit. The sojourner here on earth is spirit and it has purpose and tasks to fulfill and nothing should be done to hinder the fulfillment of the purpose and the tasks. It concerns the whole existence of a man. Is it any won- der, therefore, that it is the part which is regarded as the Religious section that has attracted heated arguments and cre- ated tension in the land?

As I did state last week, to refresh our memory, what interests this column more is Part F, the section on Incorporated Trustees. It is Section 823 of the Act as amended. Titled ‘Incorporated Trustees,’ it says: “ Where two or more trusteesareappointedbyanycommuni- tyofpersonsboundtogetherbycustom, religion, kinship or nationality or by any- body or association of persons estab- lished for any religious, educational, lit- erary, scientific, social, development, cul- tural, sporting or charitable purpose, they may if so authorised by the commu- nity, body or association ( in this Act referred to as ‘association’ ) apply to the commission in the manner provided for registration under this Act as a corporate body.” Section 823 (2) states “Upon being so registered by the commission, the trustees shall become a corporate body in accordance with the provisions of Section 830 of this Part…”

Chapter 4 of the Act deals with what it calls “Suspension of Trustees, Appointment of Interim managers, etc.”

What is to warrant the Commission sus- pending trustees and appointing inter- im mangers are as follows: 1). If there has been any misconduct or mismanagement of the association; 2). If it is necessary or desirable for the purpose of a).protecting the property of the associ- ation; b).securingaproperapplicationforthe property of the association, the purpos- es of the association or if the property coming to the association; c). the affairs of the association are being run fraudulently.

In every society, in every country and every association, there will always be need for laws, for rules and regulations. In a country where there is no law there will be chaos and the rule of might, what some call rule of man will be the order of the day. To prevent this, every society craves for the proverbial Rule of Law. In the absence of law, misconduct will fester and become common place.

Law saves man from the rule of the jungle. Rules and regulations are for order, harmony, predictability and test of character. Laws point the way to civilisation. Laws curb weaknesses of man.Incompanies,corporationsand organisationsingeneral,lawengen- ders openness and transparency in the conduct of affairs. There is the convic- tion that if everyone is under the law, dictatorship tendencies will be held in check and there will be free expression and the exercise of inalienable liberty and freedom.

The problem is not in the necessity for laws, rules and regulations. The entire universe, nay the whole of Creation is governed by laws. These are immutable and are self-acting. Ignorance of their existence and how they govern our world, our ingress and our egress does not protect anyone from their effects. But the problem of human laws is in the fear of the kind of laws, rules and regulations. In associations, in countries what human beings worry about where there is need for the law is whether it is fair and equitable. This is must be something to worry about.

There is also the fear of misappli- cation and breach of trust. In the insalu- brious circumstances of our land today, the timing of CAMA may rightly be seen as awkward. The sectarian divide is pal- pable,andwithseeminglyintractable killings in some parts of the country said to be caused by festering ethno-reli- gious contestation and divide, the tim- ing could have shown greater sensitivi- ty. This government would be living in denial not to sense that it suffers from trust deficit—- from what is perceived as acts of commission or omission. Why is it that it is only the Christians under the umbrella of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) who are crying foul? That should be food for thought.

Of course, we cannot wait until we have a perfect society before we make laws. Enactment of laws is in aid of per- fection. There is no doubt that the con- duct of senior functionaries of few of our religious organisations leaves much to be desired, and there will be need for rules and regulations that have general application to ensure transparency and accountability. These are key for the smooth running of any organization and peace in the larger society. Section 846 which deals with accounting records which detail daily entries of receipts and expenditure will make for disclosure and accountability. Finance is a potential source of conflict in nearly all organisations.

It is therefore an area to be watched closely. The source of funding is usually of interest to any gov- ernment if it is from outside the coun- try. However, as long as the funds are accounted for, each organisation should be allowed to have recourse to, and abide by their own internal governance mechanism. Subsection 2 seeks to see “matters in respect of which receipt and expenditure took place.” I am particular about religious organisations. Where there is a breach of rules, they should be made to head for the courts for resolu- tion. A situation where an interim man- agement appointed by the Registrar- General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, an agency of government, is to dabble in the affairs of religious organisations is ill-advised.

Are members of the interim management going to be drawn from a Pentecostal genre to run an Anglican Church, or from Methodist Church to run a Pentecostal church? Come to think of it, the interim managers can come in upon a petition of the commission or members of the association made up of one-fifth of the congregants. What does it take to have fifth columnists ill-disposed to their leadership to cause a dispute and have a petition forwarded to the Corporate Affairs Commission and have an inter- im manager in the place or his appointee to conduct Mass and admin- ister the Sacrament? We may ask: All this while, how have our religious organisations been settling their differ- ences up till now? Is it not through their internal mechanisms?

Me thinks, if there is need for a com- prehensive reform, it should be with the courts. Once there is speedy dis- pensation of justice, most of what we complain about whether in the secular and our non-secular life will disappear. What we have in the country is a situa- tion a case may last 20 years by which time the litigants are weary, witnesses may have died or left the country, or the judge is promoted or transferred from one division of the court to another. Even when the case has trav- elled all the way to the Supreme Court, as it most times happens on issue of technicality, the trial is remitted to the lower court to start de novo. In the end everything turns out to be a farce.

There is the argument that Charity Commission in the UK has the same brief as our Corporate Affairs Commission. Its equivalent in Germany carries the same responsibili- ty. But we know ourselves. We are not yet there. It is inconceivable, and it has been so generally accepted in the United Kingdom and beyond, that there will be unwholesome, ill-moti- vated influences to bring to bear on the affairs and judgment of Charity Commission in Britain or in Germany. It cannot happen even where Princess Anne is involved or Prince Andrew.

The other aspect of the Act that we may watch is Chapter 7, Section 849 which says that two or more associa- tions with similar aims and objects may merge under terms and condi- tions as the Commission may pre- scribe by regulation. I do hope that the terms and conditions for a merger will be properly spelt out and will go through wide consultations before they come into effect, especially as they may concern spiritual and religious organisations. Subtle or blatant official pressure for a merger simply because they share the same objectives must be ruled out. For Christians, the objective is to make the Teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ known to all human beings.

For Muslims, the object of their organisations is to expose all human beings to the teachings of Prophet Mohammed. However, the objectives may be similar, the colouration of each organisation differs from one to the other and the methodology evidently far apart. Organisations that may wish to merge out of their own free will should be allowed to do so. Profession of spiritual values by each person, each citizen must remain sacrosanct.


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