The Federal Government has approved the free registration of business names by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) for 250,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across the country.
The free registration scheme for businesses will span the entire thirty six states of the federation as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The government announced this via its official twitter handle.
Expectedly, more free registrations will be conducted in Kano and Lagos because both states have the most populated business areas (over 4 million) in the country.
Usually, the registration of business names by the CAC costs at least N10,000 depending on the company’s category. Despite the free registration being aimed at relieving 250,000 MSMEs of these costs, many Nigerians have criticised the government for employing a manual application process.
Instead of calling for applications through an online portal as is now the norm, MSMEs are required to contact focal persons in each state to process their applications.
Nigerians across social media have highlighted a number of difficulties and irregularities with the manual mode of application for the free registration scheme through state contact persons.
A major talking point was the unavailability of the focal persons/aggregators in each state. One twitter user stated that he couldn’t get through to the aggregators via calls/SMS and opined that the government should have implemented an alternative mode of application. Chisom on twitter shared this sentiment.
Also citing the same difficulty, another person said in a rather sarcastic undertone: “The aggregators phone lines are not connected to any network here on earth. I think they are connected to a communication network of an unknown planet.”
Many other people mentioned that they had been unable to reach their state aggregators with some alleging that the focal persons had deliberately switched off their phones.
This was always going to be the case anyway. Surely the government did not expect that a single person (aggregator) in each state would effectively respond to thousands of individuals who seek to leverage the free MSME business name registration.
Other social media users have accused aggregators of hijacking the scheme by selling slots to family and friends. A Twitter user, Festus went further to claim that the program was a scam.
“Audio scheme, no sites, no application portal, no focus, why does Abia state always fall out from your view?” Ubani a resident of Abia state ranted.
He was probably expecting to apply for the free registration through an online portal rather than human aggregators.
While the government’s decision to engage focal persons to facilitate the free registrations may be questionable, it has also launched funds via online portals.
Going by the reactions across social media, many people believe that the involvement of contact persons for free registration has compromised the credibility of the entire process. Also, some pointed out how tedious and complicated the process is compared to the fast and easy online application process.
In an era where digital solutions are being utilised to reduce human interference, Nigerians are right to fault the government’s manual method of applying for the free business name registration.
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