Fellow citizens, in deep contemplation of our progress as a nation and in settled admiration of some measured productivity in the private sector, I am compelled to propose the plausibility of our running Nigeria like a public company that makes good gains in development and profit in sustainable progress. Given the significant onrush of “fecundity” and productiveness in the corporate sector, our political leaders must undertake a responsibility pupilage on how exactly some corporate entities in a country are more productive, infrangible and sustainable than the countries where they exist. This lies in the ageless ethos of integrity, strategies in corporate governance and the founding ideals that define the prestige, elegance and generational acceptability of such corporations. Corporate governance creates a value system that essentially balances the diverse interests of a company’s multifaceted stakeholders – the shareholders, management, customers, suppliers, financiers, government and the community. It creates a functional compass that assures public trust and credibility, while attaining the company’s objectives; encompassing virtually every spectrum of management, from target plans and internal controls to performance measurement and corporate disclosure.
Nigeria, a sovereign entity incorporated by the tripod legal instruments of the (Nigerian Council) Order-in-Council, 1912; The Letters Patent, 1913; and the Nigerian Protectorate Order-in-Council, 1913, has existed for a century and nearly half a decade in stagnant search of national identity and ideological bearing. In 1914, the “Nigeria Progress PLC” commenced operations with 24 official and 12 unofficial members, with six unofficial members as Europeans who were representing commerce, shipping, mining, and banking interests in the Council. By the Order (Nigerian Protectorate Order-in-Council, 1913) of His Majesty King George the 5th, which was made on the 22nd November, 1913, by virtue and in the exercise of the power vested in His Majesty by the Foreign Jurisdiction Act, 1890, at the Windsor Castle Court, before Their Lordships, Lord Earl Spence, Lord Stamfordham and Lord Emmatt, the Nigerian first law was made and that legally gave birth to Nigeria – then a legal entity without any internal sovereignty.
Prior to Nigeria’s acquisition of its license of sovereignty and independence in 1960, the colonial masters administered the country for their revenual interests. To be fair to them, they laid strong and firm developmental foundations, a structure that has been crashed by crass ineptitude of successive leaders after our first generation leaders’ stellar leadership of transcendent impact. Upon Nigeria’s independence, such business interests of the colonial masters were transferred to such already existing companies like Unilever Plc, First Bank Plc, Nestle PLC, Cadbury Nigeria PLC, among many others that are still waxing stronger and bigger till tomorrow; serving as strategic growth compass for Nigeria’s emerging entrepreneurs today. Most of those companies have been advanced and sustained based on a crystalline compass of viable visions, transparency, accountability, openness, inclusiveness in governance, and strident commitment of workers to the growth process of the companies.
The products and services of these companies which have foreign afflictions and interference in their management are today almost the leading and controlling forces of our economy. As a nation, we must interrogate and emulate how these companies are progressing in order to retrieve our country from retrogressive stasis. These companies do not run abroad for aids, they do not fail their customers as woefully without courtesy and proper notification as is our flopping national leadership. They operate for profit, progress and longevity. Nigeria in its development and modernisation drive must learn from the corporate sector. The managers and stakeholders of the Nigerian enterprise have failed to contend with the situation of our underdevelopment and disunity. To fix Nigeria, all the stakeholders— the citizens, government officials and the institutions— must see themselves as though they are operating a corporate entity. The citizens must play the significant role of the members of a public company while our leaders must govern Nigeria like credible directors of a company who have the overall interest of the company at heart. The company’s scope of activities and defined business visions are like the dream of a nation.
In the wisdom of the Court in Foss v. Harbottle (1843) 2 Hare 461, the concept of corporate sovereignty and corporate democracy means that the will of the majority of the members of the company constitute the decision of the body (corporate sovereignty belongs and resides in the company), a practice that even the court cannot interface with. Just like the members of a company, the citizens of a nation are the highest and strongest officers of the nation, with the expensive power to hire and fire leaders – the power of constructive citizenship in nation building. Section 14 (2) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), expresses this by granting absolute power to the people, that “sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority”. Just like in a company, viral citizenship and citizen leadership are the blocks upon which social progress is built. How exactly have Nigerians exercised their inherent powers in the sovereignty of Nigeria to positively provide perennial development and integration changes? The people, as the victims of underdevelopment and social injustice, are the most significant stakeholders in owning up the advancement process of the “ Nigeria Progress PLC” . Only we the people can make Nigeria work, not our leaders, not foreign forces, not even our African sisters, Nigerians as the custodians of Nigeria’s prosperity must take bold responsibilities to rebuild Nigeria.
- Ekpa writes in from the Nigerian Law School, Bwari, Abuja.