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Nigerian Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister, Zainab Ahmed, got the country worried when she announced at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting of May 21, 2020, that the country had an oil revenue shortfall of N425.52 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2020. The statistics showed Nigeria got only N940.9billion as against N1.366 trillion oil revenue that was expected into the treasury between January and March this year. This was a gloomy picture of the adverse effect of COVID-19 on the federation account revenues and foreign exchange earnings.

“The net oil and gas revenue inflows to the federation account in Q1 2020 amounted to N940.9billion. This represents a shortfall of 31.1 percent of the prorated amount,” according to Ahmed. This period perhaps is the most challenging in the history of a country that is surviving on a monolith economy.

The global economy including Nigeria, since the beginning of the year, has faced its sharpest reversal since the great depression and these have health and economic implications. According to Ahmed, “To prevent a deep recession arising from the COVID-19 economic crisis, the orthodox approach all over the world, including Nigeria, is the deployment of a stimulus package” which has gulped billions and may at the end, gulp several trillions of Naira.


It is however surprising and saddening that, in the same month of May that Zainab Ahmed painted a gloomy picture of government finances, the management of a federal agency, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), while at home, but amid the cold hand of the pandemic, approved a back-dated new jumbo salary package for its staff for which it started to pay on 1st June 2020, with four months’ arrears.

The approval and payment of the new package came during the total lockdown measure that was ordered to lessen the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also at the time that the federal government was cutting down on expenditure and went begging owing to shrinking revenue.

The new salary package came on the heels of earlier wastefulness of N70 million by the FRC that was set up to ensure prudence and accountability in the private and public sectors. FRC paid out over N70 million for an office accommodation that it did not occupy till the expiration of the rent in 2019.

Whatever excuses the FRC could have advanced seem not tenable to the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission, which said the Council’s newly approved salary package is illegal, according to Adighiogu Chiadi, the Commission’s Acting Director, Compensation who noted that it contravenes Section 3(L) of the commission’s Act and also, a contravention of circular SGF/OP/I/S.3/VII of 25th May 2017.


Section 3(L) of NSIWC gives the commission the sole right to examine, streamline, and recommend salary scales applicable for each post in the public service, a provision of the Act which the FRC management has flouted.

These two developments have clearly shown that the management and board of the Council as they are currently constituted, are out of tune with the current global economic realities as the FRC now mirrors everything that is negative in Nigeria’s public sector, especially at the federal level.

The approval of the new salary scale shows the government is funding those who may not add any value to governance and also, incapable of imparting knowledge especially when one considers that a larger percentage of these workers are adjudged as unfit to be at the agency, according to 2014 report by Akintola Williams Deloitte, one of the big audit firms in the country that assessed the staff immediately after the transit from Nigerian Accounting Standard Board (NASB) to the FRC.

The new remuneration package has hence raised the Council’s monthly payout, on salaries alone, to about N42 million at a time that the agency is not generating adequate revenue. The fear that the Council could collapse in months to come if urgent measures are not taken, was expressed at the Senate during the public hearing by the Solomon Adeola-led Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning that ended a fortnight ago.

The Senate is currently looking at ways to free more funds for the government treasury and the findings from the meeting with the FRC and other revenue-generating agencies have now compelled the federal lawmakers to consider an amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act that will stop agencies from spending the money they generate as they are pleased, following discoveries of poor revenue profile, huge wage bill, and poor remittances to the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account.

The FRC management refused to comment on its wastefulness, the salary package, and other issues when it was contacted through a June 22, 2020, letter from InsideBusiness which was addressed to the Acting-Executive Secretary, Iheanyi Anyahara. Anyahara, in his response through a WhatsApp message, said he would need to get the clearance of the CEO, Daniel Asakpohai who unfortunately has not been in the office since February this year.

“There is a substantive CEO, I am just holding the forte for him for a short period,” noted Anyahara who promised to revert to InsideBusiness but never did till the time of this publication.

The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investments, Niyi Adebayo, who requested for an official correspondence in a response to a text message that asked for his comments on FRC, has also not responded to the official inquiry sent by InsideBusiness on 2nd September.

“I have seen it. Please give me a few days to revert to you”, the minister said in a September 2 text message to InsideBusiness.

Checks at the agency showed that the former Executive Secretary, Jim Obazee, upon the approval by the management in 2016, paid N47,364,666 for two years rent in addition to another payment of N23.6 million for diesel and facility management for a tenancy that was to run from February 1, 2017, to January 31, 2019, for office accommodation at the Japaul building which is close to its former office complex, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

Obazee, however, was removed from office in questionable circumstances on January 9, 2017, and could not effect the relocation of the agency to the new Japaul Building complex. The current Executive secretary Daniel Asakpokhia, who was appointed on the same 9th January 2017, was then expected to ensure the relocation to the new office complex in February 2017 but which never happened.

InsideBusiness findings showed that the beautification of the Japaul Building Complex was also tendered in The Guardian newspaper edition of 4th December 2017.

Invitation To Tender By FRC in The Guardian Edition of 4th December 2017.

The FRC, which has now relocated to Alexander House, another facility that is adjacent to the LCCI and the Japaul complexes paid another N66 million for rent in addition to money for the redesigning of the two floors in the new office accommodation which has no library facilities and which the staff complained of leakages whenever it rains. Though the rents at the LCCI building expired on June 1, a fresh tenancy could be running because the Council still has its library facilities at the complex because the Alexander House has no space for its Library.

Findings on the new salaries by InsideBusiness showed that the package was calculated, using the difference between FRC Step 10 and step 13 with an addition of 75 percent of the previous scale. The management also used the 2014 approval secured by the former Executive Secretary, Jim Obazee, as the basis to set a new salary scale which the NSIWC insisted must carry its approval for it to be legitimate.

“No, they cannot do that unless they clear from us at the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission,” noted Chiadi in a telephone conversation with InsideBusiness.

Also, in a letter written to InsideBusiness by NSIWC on the 5th August, 2020, Chiadi noted that the 25th May 2017 circular requires the FRC, like other agencies, to clear any proposed changes in staff salaries, allowances, and fringe benefits with the Commission before they are implemented.

“Therefore, any contravention to the Act or the Circular by any Chief Executive Officer of a government agency constitutes an abuse of office,” he said in the letter referenced SWC/S/04/S.490/77 to InsideBusiness.

Details of the new salary package show that the drivers got a 100 percent increase, directors got a 50 percent increase while principal managers and others got a 75 percent increase from an agency which is allegedly surviving on the funds generated during the tenure of the former Executive Secretary, Jim Obazee.

The new package was jointly approved by the Union leader, Raji Sheriff, and the FRC board chairman, Dotun Sulaiman in May 2020 with the knowledge of Iheanyi Anyahara, the acting-Executive Secretary. It was then backdated to January 2020 while payments began on June 1 together with the arrears from January 2020.

Sulaiman and the Union leader, Sheriff whom the report of Akintola Williams Deloitte placed on “Watchlist” upon assessment, were said to have based their actions on Section 20 (5) of the FRC Act 2011 which says that “The Board shall define the duties and fix the salaries, allowances or other compensation of staff appointed under sub-section (3) at a level that is comparable to the private sector or other regulatory organizations. Sub-section 3 says, “The Board shall appoint for the Council such other staff as it may deem necessary and expedient from time-to-time for the proper and efficient performance of the functions of the Council”.

Sources at the supervising ministry, the Ministry of Trade and Investments who floored the premise for the new salary package, told InsideBusiness that the approval of the new salary scale is beyond the powers of Dotun Sulaiman, who currently chairs both the FRC board and that of Cadbury Nigeria Plc, as it runs contrary to the functions that are stipulated for the board by the agency’s enabling Act of 2011. Section 10 of the FRC Act, which prescribes the functions of the board, excludes setting and approval of salary from the roles expected of it. That responsibility rests solely with the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, the body that is charged with setting the remuneration of workers in the federal public service.

It will be recalled that Obazee in 2014 got an approval from the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission to upscale the salary of the FRC staff when the body transited from the then Nigerian Accounting Standard Board (NASB) and which was effected the same year. The new scale which was higher than the civil service salary structure was approved for Obazee owing to the conviction by the Salaries and Wages Commission that the FRC is self-dependent and has the capacity to sustain its expenditure from its earnings without recourse to the federal budgetary allocation.

Throughout the tenure of Obazee, findings by InsideBusiness showed the FRC was self-sustaining on the revenue it drew from the market which it supervised. It was also discovered that the self-dependency of the FRC saved the agency from being recommended for a merger with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) whose roles are seen as identical by Stephen Oronsaye’s Committee on Rationalisation of Federal government Agencies.

The FRC sustains its operations including salary payment from earnings made from sanctions meted to companies that committed market infractions and other sundry levies like annual dues from companies and practitioners. An instance of such earnings was the N1 billion penalties paid by StanbicIBTC bank in 2016 when the Council ordered the bank to restate its two years’ accounts.

The new salary package for the staff that was backdated to January 2020 and paid to the staff on June 1, together with the May salaries and the arrears from January, was said to be a total of N70 million.

Prior to the June 1 payment, InsideBusiness findings showed the FRC had N300 million balance in its account. This was said to be the balance from the N1 billion penalty paid by StanbicIBTC bank when it was sanctioned by the Council in 2016.

The payment of N70 million for the new salary package brought the balance in FRC account to N230 million by the first week of June amid fears that the new jumbo pay which is allegedly not sustainable may have further depleted the account by another N126 million payout, the sum amount of June and July, and August salaries.

Findings showed that Sulaiman approved the new package allegedly to appease and silence the workers who are miffed and getting agitated about the decline at the Council and also, how the probe of Cadbury Nigeria Plc which Sulaiman is also the chairman, was swept under the carpet.

Sulaiman’s approval of the new package also raised questions considering a 2014 report from Akintola Williams Deloitte which says that only nine staff of those in the core area of operations of the agency are “Suitable” to work at the FRC. The audit firm in its appraisal of the staff adjudged Eight as “Suitable But Requires Development” while 12 staff who scored below 60 percent were placed on a “Watchlist”. Seven others, comprising one principal manager, three assistant directors, and three deputy managers were judged “Not Suitable”.

Interestingly, Akintola Williams Deloitte both in its “Manpower Assessment” and also the ‘Final Analysis’ of its assessment, specifically stated that Anyahara Iheanyi Odinakachi, whom the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment appointed as the Acting Executive Secretary was not suitable to be at the FRC.
Anyahara, who according to Akintola Williams Deloitte, has a B.Sc in Vocational Business Education, MBA Accounting, ICAN Certificate, with an M.Sc program that was in view as at the time of the assessment by the audit firm was adjudged “Unsuitable” for the Strategy, Organisation, Research, and Policy Unit in the organogram that was recommended for the agency.

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