ICSAN Kicks Against Granting Association Chartered Status

Mr Bode Ayeku, President Chartered Institute of Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN).

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN) has opposed a bill seeking to grant chartered status to the Association of Professional Secretarial Staff of Nigeria (APSSON).

The ICSAN President, Mr Bode Ayeku, gave the stance of the institute at its first media parley of 2021 on Wednesday in Lagos.

Ayeku said that the reason for the opposition was that the essential part of activities to be performed by members of the association constituted a subset of the functions of the institute.

He said that secretarial practice was part and parcel of the rights of the institute as provided by the ICSAN Act 1991.

Ayeku said that granting APSSON chartered status could also cause confusion in the public and duplication of responsibility, which would not make a good impression in the international community.

“Granting APSSON a chartered status would amount to giving them responsibilities already legally assigned to the institute.

“Section 13 of the Bill states that a person shall be deemed as a member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Secretarial Staff of Nigeria (CIPSSON) if: he is a practising secretary employed in the public or private sector or self-employed; holds himself out to the public as a professional secretarial practitioner; a retired professional secretarial staff.

“From our perspective, we can say that the kind of work under the nature and scope of activities of the category of workers envisaged as secretarial staff encompasses clerical work, activities of front desk officers, functions of Confidential Secretaries, and Personal Assistants.

“Granting chartered status to APSSON will confer on the members the prerogative of adding the distinctive adjective “Chartered” to their existing name to realize the compound term ‘Chartered Secretaries’ which is currently used by members of ICSAN.

“They can register as a labour union in order to protect the interest of the members of the Association, instead of seeking a charter which is not appropriate for them.

“We will, therefore, continue to monitor the progress of this bill,” he said.

Ayeku also told newsmen of the plan of the institute to hold an interactive session with the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN).

He said this was based on the concerns of stakeholders on the perceived conflict between some provisions of part six of the Audit Regulations 2020 and Companies & Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020.

“The requirement under CAMA 2020 which regulates the appointment, qualification of statutory audit committee members is that they must be a member of the company, must be nominated by members of the company and the nomination must be sent 21 days before the Annual General Meeting(AGM).

“However, the Audit Regulation 2020 in part six provides that the members of the committee must be registered with the FRCN.

“The problem with this is that one must be a professional and a member of a professional institute established by Act of parliament in Nigeria to be registered with FRCN.

“The implication of this regulation is that if the shareholders of a company should elect a representative on the audit committee at their AGM who is not a professional, then such a person will not be fit to register in FRCN and they will be deemed to have contravened the regulation.

“The challenge is that the law regulating the composition, qualification of audit committee members of a company is CAMA 2020, not FRCN. But the regulation is now making provisions for what the law, CAMA does not provide.

“There is now a question of what can the public company do in view of the fact that no company can compel an individual to register with any professional body and there is no provision in CAMA for the suspension of a member of the Statutory Audit Committee.

“These are some of the concerns we intend to address during the interactive session which is to hold on April 14,” he said

Speaking on other national issues, Ayeku commended President Muhammadu Buhari for nominating on merit and supporting the appointment of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the DG of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“This is a call that government at all levels need to refocus and make appointments based on merit rather than on sentiments, political party or religion,” he said.

Ayeku, therefore, called for merit in the application of the quota system and federal character system.

He also charged the Federal Government on the provision of incentives to increase local production of petroleum products, in order to conserve the nation’s foreign exchange for critical projects.

Addressing the planned rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery with $1.5 million, the ICSAN president advised the procurement of loans to build a new refinery with guaranteed output and performance instead of rehabilitating the old ones.

Ayeku, noting the nation’s current high debt profile, stressed the need for government to get dedicated loans to improve security and infrastructure development, stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment.

“There is a need for the deployment of technology such as drones, tracking devices, satellite in the management of insecurity in the country.

“Federal government needs to collaborate with developed and neighbouring countries who have the right technology to assist Nigeria’s security agencies,” he said. (NAN)

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