Return unclaimed dividends to their owners - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Sunday, April 21, 2024

Return unclaimed dividends to their owners

Stakeholders in the Nigerian capital market, have charged the new Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Dr. Emomotimi Agama to ensure that all unclaimed dividends are returned to their rightful owners.

They applauded President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the decision to appoint new management and board members for the Commission. 

This, they said, may be a further step expected to ensure the birthing of the administration’s US$1 trillion economy.

Reacting to the sacking of Lamido Yuguda on Friday, shareholder-rights groups stated that the appointment of Dr. Emomotimi Agama, a technocrat and insider of the commission will accelerate the development of the capital market, including the Unclaimed Dividend debacle, among others.

In a statement on Friday evening, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), announced the appointment of Mr. Mairiga Aliyu Katuka, as Chairman; Mr. Emomotimi Agama, Director-General; Frana Chukwuogor, Executive Commissioner (Legal and Enforcement); Mr. Bola Ajomale, Executive Commissioner (Operations); Mrs. Samiya Hassan Usman, Executive Commissioner (Corporate Services); Mr. Lekan Belo, Non-Executive Commissioner; and Mr. Kasimu Garba Kurfi, Non-Executive Commissioner.

The statement said President Bola Ahmed Tinube “anticipates that all members of the Board of this critical commission will bring to bear their wealth of experience and competence in advancing the commission's core mandate of developing and regulating a capital market that is dynamic, fair, transparent, and efficient, to bolster investor confidence and contribute immeasurably to the nation’s economic development.”

Reacting to the development at the weekend, Adebayo Adeleke, a shareholder rights activist and board member of some companies listed on the Nigerian Exchange expects the new SEC team “to accelerate the development of the capital market by improving the response time of the Commission to issues that need the Commission's attention, intervention and approval.”

He lamented that the commission “delays a lot of things in the Capital market, and that frustrates operators and investors. SEC under Agama should always be focused on its primary task of protecting investors.

As an immediate step, Adeleke wants the SEC to have investors/shareholders' representatives on the Capital Market Committee (CMC), adding that “it’s incomprehensible how Capital market decisions are made by CMC while owners of capital are locked out. It’s what late MKO Abiola referred to as "shaving a man's head in his absence."

Congratulating the new SEC DG, Mrs. Bisi Bakare, President, Pragmatic Shareholders Association of Nigeria, expressed hope that Dr. Agama will bring his experience to bear in repositioning and enabling the regulatory body to achieve the reasons for its existence.

Bakare urged the new SEC board and management to tackle thorny issues that have over the years cast a dark cloud on the Nigerian capital market. These, she said, include the untamed growth in unclaimed dividend, and frequent delisting of companies from the NGX Limited.

The SEC management under Dr. Agama, she continued, must restore the glory of the commission as an apex regulator of the Nigerian Capital Market; review the road map to ensure it becomes realistic in the development, while positioning the market “as a role model for peers across Africa and the globe.

The commission should renew the fight against abuses in the market by reducing infractions which have continued unabated due to unchecked malpractices.

Also reacting, Boniface Okezie, the National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), described the appointment as “news of the week” which suggests that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration is beginning to get its acts together.

He lamented that “the immediate past DG after assuming office distanced himself from shareholders’ groups unlike his predecessors who held regular consultations with the leadership of shareholder groups who in the process made inputs into the market.

He urged the new SEC board and management to do everything within their power to return the unclaimed dividend to their owners, while urging them to work with the various stakeholders to move the capital market forward.

On the second banking sector recapitalisation exercise, Okezie charged the new SEC management to enhance its capacity such that it is not overwhelmed leading to unnecessary delays in approving various applications by companies seeking to raise fresh capital, while putting ethnicity and religion aside in the recruitment process.

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