In November 2020, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria published a draft of the new Companies Regulations 2021 that will guide the implementation of the Companies and Allied Matter Act (CAMA) 2020. The CAC invited the public to submit comments on the content of the regulations.
In response, the Agents for Citizen-driven Transformation (ACT) Programme collaborated with the Nigerian Network of NGOs and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa to engage civil society organisations (CSOs) across the country to review and submit comments on the regulations. A consortium of 42 civil society networks/coalitions and a working group was then formed to lead this effort.
Section 839 of the CAMA 2020 was contentious for CSOs, particularly religious bodies, because it enabled the CAC to appoint someone who may be of a different religion as interim manager to manage the affairs of another religious body, in case of disputes within the organisation. This is the main reason why there were oppositions to the CAMA 2020.
CSOs proposed an amendment to appoint someone of the same religion as interim manager, which influenced the CAC to revise the relevant parts of the CAMA 2020 Act.
As a result of civil society's efforts, the Companies Regulations 2021 published in December 2020 now includes clauses 30 (1 h) and 30 (2) to ensure persons appointed by the CAC as interim managers are from the same religion/culture, in the case of religious or cultural associations.
“An interim manager appointed by the Commission under section 839 of the Act shall be a person with knowledge and skill in the operations of the association; and in the case of a religious or cultural associations, be a person of that religion or culture if only one interim manager is appointed.
Where more than one interim manager is appointed, in the case of a religious or cultural association, majority of the interim managers shall be persons of that religion or culture.”
This successful legislation is a demonstration of how ACT played an active role in coordinating CSOs’ response to constructively engage with government agencies.