The journey of the National Institute of Credit Administration (NICA)’s three-decade existence, particularly the bid to secure its chartered status, is a classic case that illustrates the combined power of vision, focus and persistence.
And the story can only be better told by the Founding Registrar and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Institute, Prof. Chris Onalo. Also, there was no better time to inspire young entrepreneurs than at NICA’s 30th anniversary celebration, which drew professionals, policymakers and leaders from across the country.
Onalo’s inspiring journey down memory lane set the tone for an enjoyable evening of networking, reminiscing, and collaborating for future projects and advocacy while celebrating the historic moment of August 2022 when former President Muhammadu Buhari signed the NICA Establishment Act into law, officially designating it as Act No. 26 of 2022, which heralded the Institute’s charter status as National Institute of Credit Administration (NICA) Chartered.
“The journey to legalise credit management as a distinct profession in Nigeria,” he began, “started in 1992. The idea was conceived and the vision delivered not only to navigate but to orchestrate the best possible economic growth model and a systemic paradigm for Nigeria as a better economic future approaches.
“As a member of the Diaspora then, I could see a bigger growth prospect for Nigeria’s economy. I could see the unparalleled rich deposits of natural resources in Nigeria, so that if those resources can be discovered and harnessed, Nigeria and indeed her citizens can only necessarily become another economically and socially powerful society, comparable and preferable to any other developed economies in the world with great pride and influence.
“But there was need for a vehicle to make this happen, the model that can galvanise this economic expansionism into an action for citizens’ participation. An expanded economy necessarily results to availability of quality home-made products, goods and services for human consumption at the cheapest possible prices. That model is Credit Economy System.”
With just his gut and strong conviction, Onalo plunged into the uncharted world of credit economy, braving the odds to make a way where there was none, and earning the moniker, ‘Nigeria’s Mr Credit’.
He said: “It was this mindset that inspired my drive to go into a very painful, rigorous, self-imposed national dream project. The expectation that Nigeria will one day come to realise the importance of using credit economic model to fast-track a people-centered economic development and sustainability, capable of jobs and wealth creation for the nation and the people unceasingly.
“Seven years after, following the impressive membership growth record of the Institute, I began the process to secure charter status for the Institute of Credit Administration (ICA), as it was then called. With my legal team, a robust legislative Bill was drafted and submitted to the 6th National Assembly in 2007. However, we did not succeed in our first attempt. We failed to achieve the chartered status with that regime. We learnt one or two lessons as to why we failed.
“Bravely, in 2011 we moved into the 7th National Assembly with enthusiasm that this time around we would succeed, again painfully we failed. We saw more and more frightening things, which stood out as bigger lessons. However, the experience was beginning to make sense to me in terms of requirements for legislative processes and procedures at the National Assembly. At this time the Governing Council of the Institute which had been constituted in line with the articles and memorandum of association of the Institute began to express concerns, and vowed to stand firmly with me. Some highly spirited individuals, Fellows, Members and Associates of the Institute also gave their support.
“In 2015, we got started with the 8th National Assembly. This time we were very sure we will get it. Alas, we failed! At this point, it dawned on me the saying that “good things only come after a severe physical or mental suffering.
“Not taking No for an answer, I decided not to drop the ball but face the battle resolutely, regardless of my smallness. The 9th National Assembly came on board in 2019. We went in again. This time around it was a fight to finish. And eventually, we got the Charter Bill passed and signed into Law on August 16, 2022, by former President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Seeing the national importance of the Institute Bill and the overall contents of its mandate, the lawmakers thought it was wise to name the Institute “National Institute of Credit Administration (NICA) with act number 26 of 2022. The effort to get chartered lasted 16 years.
“At long last, this is a milestone for Nigeria, for credit management profession, and for the credit economy, credit business, consumer credit, trade credit and financial credit industries locally and internationally, Today, Nigeria’s NICA is globally rated as the 3rd largest credit management Institute in the world after the United States of America and the United Kingdom. NICA is the largest in Africa.”
With eyes set on the future, Onalo listed NICA’s next two immediate projects: “To build a world-class credit management headquarters at the cost of N3.5 billion in Lagos and to ensure that credit administration becomes a course of study at degree levels in all Nigerian universities. We have progressed very far on this with the National University Commission (NUC) through Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State,” he disclosed.