For Christians, it was an exciting piece of news — President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday fired Financial Reporting Council (FRC) Executive Secretary Mr. Jim Obazee.
The FRC is a Federal Government agency whose action precipitated the exit at the weekend of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) General Overseer Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye.
The influential religious leader shocked his vast congregation when he announced at the ministers’ annual thanksgiving service on Saturday that due to the FRC regulation, he was stepping down as head of the Nigerian church.
A statement by presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said President Buhari also approved the reconstitution of the board of the FRC and the appointment of Mr Adedotun Sulaiman as Chairman and Mr. Daniel Asapokhai as the Executive Secretary to replace Obazee, whose tenure ought to end in November, next year.
Mr. Sulaiman is a former Managing Partner/Director of Arthur Anderson and later, Accenture. He is a Chartered Accountant and a product of the University of Lagos and Harvard Business School.
Mr. Asopokhai is a partner and a Financial Reporting Specialist at the PricewaterHouseCoopers (PWC), Nigeria. He is a product of the University of Lagos and the University of Pretoria.
The statement added that President Buhari had instructed Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment Mr Okechukwu Enelama to invite the 19 ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government and private sector organisations specified in the FRC Act to nominate members of the council’s board.
The FRC’s stipulation of a maximum period of 20 years for the heads of all registered churches, mosques, and civil society organisations and its Governance Code 2016, which had not received final approval, was yesterday suspended by the Minister of trade and Investment.
A statement by the Strategic Communication Adviser to the Minister, Constance Ikokwu, said: “The corporate governance code remains suspended until a detailed review, extensive consultation with stakeholders and reconstitution of the board of FRC is done.”
”Government remains committed to restoring and enhancing market confidence and improving the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria. Government is also committed to strengthening FRC and enhancing its capacity to fulfill its core mandate.”
FRC, an agency under the supervision of the ministry, is responsible for setting and promoting compliance with standards for accounting, financial reporting and auditing in Nigeria. It also regulates the practices of professionals involved in financial reporting and promotes good practices in financial reporting and corporate governance.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) hailed Obazee’s removal.
General Secretary Rev. Musa Asake said last night:”The sack of Jim (Obazee) is good riddance to bad rubbish. Anybody that wants to fight the church will find himself where he does not want.
“Jim got to the position by the grace of God, but set out to probe and destroy the church of God. I spoke with him several times on this issue but he wouldn’t listen. He was going to take the church to what is worse than Armageddon.
“Thank God the authorities have stepped in to right the wrong. He should have been fired a long time ago and we don’t know why he was left alone, but God’s time is always the best.
“That code should be thrown out completely because government should not interfere with the church. The church is a no-go zone for the government.
“Doing that has serious implications. It they attempt it, it will lead to confusion in the nation.”
Senior Pastor , Living Spring Chapel International, Lagos, Pastor Femi Emmanuel, said: “It is a right step in the right direction. Government has no business meddling in the internal structure and governance of the church.
“There is no government in the world that does that.
“Anyone who does that is incurring the wrath of God. Yes, there could be financial regulation of churches but never in the internal structure of the church.
“Everything that has to do with the internal structure and governance of the church must be expunged from the code.”
Obazee, a former pastor of the RCCG, said only 89 of the 23,216 registered churches in the country had complied with FRC provisions.
The leadership of CAN has slated an emergency meeting on the FRC code and other related matters.
CAN President Rev. Samson Ayokunle said the organisation’s lawyers would review the issues and make their position known to the public.
Ayokunle spoke through his Media Assistant Pastor Bayo Oladeji.
“CAN will react at the right time and make its decision public. We are studying the situation. CAN leadership will meet. Our lawyers are studying the situation,” he said.