Tijjani Borodo is the new President and Chairman of the Governing Council of the Chartered Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria. Ahead of his investiture, he spoke on how the nation can tackle its economic challenges, government’s sincerity on palliative measures and labour migration, among other issues. GLORIA NWAFOR was there.
Following the nation’s current economic challenge, what is your
candid advice for the government?
A nation with over 200 million people, it is a shame that we cannot adequately feed ourselves, provide security, jobs and provide adequate power supply. The first thing is to look at who we are as a nation.
A leader is part and parcel of any society. If you find a good leader, that leader is from a good society and vice versa. If we want the present government to succeed, individually, we must do the right thing. With the challenges of high inflation, forex scarcity and high unemployment rate, among others, I think if we take the issue of fuel subsidy as removed by President Tinubu, it was a big shock to everyone. Currently, the price of fuel is over N600. However, as a people and nation, we must continue to do the right thing.
On the issue of insecurity and the marching order given to service chiefs by President Tinubu in the next year, the challenges of insecurity should be a thing of the past. I believe this government means business and can deliver. The issue of unemployment is something that should be addressed. If we have an adequate power supply, good industries, jobs and security for farmers to go to the farm, the issues of social vices would drop. I am very optimistic about the future of this country and what we can do.
How can boards and organisations curtail
labour migration syndrome by youths?
It is very painful to have trained responsible young men and women and they do not stay back to use their talents for the growth and development of the country. However, we have to face the reality. If the environment was conducive for them to stay and work, they would have. There is a need for us to have responsible governance on quality education and skills development. We need to create an environment to encourage the young Nigerians to stay back. The government and different bodies must create an environment for entrepreneurship and innovation for them to exhibit their skills and competencies. We must create jobs and that is one of the roles responsible boards have to do. In your company, why are the youths leaving? Is your company not a good employer? What can you do to keep these young people? As responsible boards, we must do our best to invest in them to continue to practice their skills and competencies. It is not going to be easy but we have to do that. We have to create an enabling environment for young entrepreneurs to develop their skills and competence that can add value to the Nigerian economy. Boards must take the responsibility to make sure their companies key into creating the enabling environment for the younger people to stay back to work.
There appears to be some level of negligence in the entrenchment
of sound corporate governance, culture and principles in the public sector. As
a corporate governance institute, what is the role of the IoD in ensuring that
code of corporate governance is largely entrenched in public institutions to
drive good governance?
For more than a decade, the IoD realised the need to involve the public sector in the crusade for good corporate governance. We have worked with various organs and offices of government for capacity development programmes that will enhance the knowledge of public sector practitioners across boards. Last year, we went to the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and we started discussions on how we can involve all directors in training in knowledge and capacity improvement of the IoD to public servants. We also took the crusade to members of boards of parastatals of government. We believe that if IoD is allowed to participate in the induction for members of boards and parastatals, we can bring good corporate governance into the minds and brains of new people coming into the boards and parastatals of the Federal Government. We have started the discussions with the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and that is an area I think my leadership will take to the new SGF.
We are coming at the right time because the boards have been dissolved. They are going to appoint new directors to the various boards of government parastatals and I believe IoD will come in that direction to make sure that the ethics of good corporate governance are practised across government boards and parastatals. More importantly, with this law making us chartered, our council includes members of the public sector, specifically, Section 6 of the law, which states what the council membership is. The law brings public servants and government public offices into the ethos of good corporate governance. The IoD is very pleased to carry on with this crusade and this leadership is ready to pursue it vigorously.
Notwithstanding the reforms and policies
this administration has put in place to improve the economy, things seem to be
getting worse for the citizens. How would you advise the government on palliatives?
Because of where we are and what we are doing for a long time, to correct where we are will require a lot of discipline and sacrifice. But to get to where we want to be, we have to be alive first. On palliative, whatever is worth doing, is what doing well. There is no way you will say you have taken enough money to distribute to Nigerians that will solve the problems. If it is a problem of distributing money, how do you deal with inflation? I think we must go to the root, like what can we do to put in place for the future for us to be able to address the challenges we have now? People must be able to go back to the farm, they must have security to do their farming. When palliatives are being given, the farmer, rather than giving him cash, can have his farm inputs subsidised, he would be a happier person.
The person, who is in the city can have a situation, where the cost of transportation is lower than what it was. Instead of giving money, create an environment for them to earn a living. Some organisations have reduced the number of working days while the workers work from home. This will make them save high transportation costs. There are different things to be done. What is important is the sincerity of the purpose of the government in trying to solve the problem. You have given some money to state governments to go and do palliatives and I learnt that part of the money is loaned from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). I hope the state governments would go and do what is right for their people, rather than just sharing peanuts, which will finish overnight. What is more important is to look at the structure of how people live, having good water, schools, and roads, to me that is the biggest palliative we can give to Nigerians.
Considering the contribution of the
private sector to the nation’s economy, how can Nigeria achieve a private
The government must create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. That is fundamental. The government must provide infrastructure for growth, electricity, water, security and transportation. I believe if the government does that the private sector would thrive. The government must work as the enabler. What is critical is that if the enabling environment is provided by the government, the private sector would certainly succeed and we will get to where we need to as a country. I hope this is what this government is going to do.
As the president of IoD Nigeria for the next two years, what are
your plans for repositioning the institute for more efficiency?
The institute is now the Chartered Institute of Directors, Nigeria. We existed as IoD Nigeria for 40 years. Our pursuit for charters began eight years ago and was signed by former president Muhammadu Buhari during his last days in office. It is a major milestone for us. We now have a new Nigerian President Bola Tinubu and I also became President of the IoD at the same period. I have a three-point strategic agenda. Firstly, it is important to review where we are, because as Chartered Institute of Directors, Nigeria, that in itself puts a much burden on us as a leadership. We have to implement what the law has said as a new institute. Secondly, on reform, we believe we can do better in terms of membership and branch development programmes. We are going to have reform in those areas. Thirdly, is to reinvigorate the institute. Our processes, systems and value to our members would be reinvigorated so that our members are better equipped and trained to positively impact their person as individuals and organisations they represent. Also, I believe in continuity. The immediate past presidency, which I was part of, frequently talks of inclusiveness, that is the philosophy I want to pursue and also future readiness. This is where we are.
Is the institute making plans to assist
members in navigating the nation’s economic hardship?
IoD is a not-for-profit organisation. However, with the challenges of forex scarcity, inadequate power supply and high unemployment rate, among others, all these affect our members in their various businesses. What we do is to open their minds to the realities and what they should do for their businesses to thrive in these challenging times. We equip our members through training, seminars, and members’ evenings where experts are brought to speak current issues, and challenges and proffer solutions. That is our palliative. At the end of the day, they become a better person to run their businesses.
Curled from the Guardian Newspaper, By Gloria Nwafor