Nigeria moves towards a National Corporate Governance Code

A new unified national corporate governance code is in the making, although Nigeria has not been suffering from a shortage of corporate governance codes. There are no less than four codes currently in force in Nigeria. One each for banks, pension funds and insurance companies, issued by the respective regulators, and the most recent one, for all publicly listed companies, issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria in 2011.

The main problem with this multitude of codes, according to the Nigerian corporate governance website The Corporate Prof, is that while the industry specific codes are mandatory, the SEC code is voluntary. In addition, in cases of conflicting provisions, the stricter provision are supposed to prevail, but as the website points out, it is not always easy to determine which is the stricter one in case of conflicts.

However, change is coming, as the corporate governance landscape of Nigeria has been evolving quite a bit over the last few years. The Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria was established in 2011 and given wide reaching powers for the regulation of companies. It also got explicit authority to regulate corporate governance. And just last week, on January 17, 2013, a Steering Committee on the development of a National Code of Corporate Governance for Nigeria was launched under the auspices of the Financial Reporting Council. The 16-member Committee is charged with the responsibility of developing a unified Code of Corporate Governance. Apart from unifying the disparate codes, the new code is envisioned to enable the Financial Reporting Council to promote the highest standards of corporate governance, increase public awareness about corporate governance principles and practices and act as the national coordinating body responsible for all matters pertaining to corporate governance in Nigeria.  The Committee is supposed to complete a first draft within six months.  Stay tuned in July 2013!