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SEC: Dawn Of A New Era



After a long dark night, comes a glorious dawn.

Watchers of the Nigerian capital market admit painfully that the scenario at the apex regulatory body of the capital market has been marked with one leadership crisis after another, which has negatively affected the Commission’s  image and resulted in loss of confidence and respect by players and investors alike. However, things are beginning to look up again for the Commission, which for many years before the upheavals, used to be the toast of both local and international stakeholders and analysts.

The Acting Director-General of the Commission, Ms. Mary Uduk, is championing this new ray of hope with the understanding that the most important resource of any organization is the human resource, and that a disenchanted and demotivated workforce is toxic to the system.One of the first issues, which the Mary Uduk-led administration gave priority to, was staff welfare. Staff promotions, which had been long overdue, dating as far back as 2016, have now been cleared.

With the assurance of a smooth and steady career progression, staff morale is high and productivity greatly enhanced. The working environment at the Commission is currently devoid of tension, rancor and disenchantment. Rather it is exciting to state that there is noticeable comradeship and cordiality among management and staff.

Another category of persons whom the new leadership of the Commission believe should be celebrated, are distinguished capital market practitioners, who have at one time or the other headed or have been members of the Capital Market Committees. These highly respected persons in the sector have consistently given their time, energy and intellect towards the development of the market. It is to the credit of these icons that the SEC10-year Capital Market Masterplan was put together and continues to be faithfully implemented.

Over a period of time, several Capital Market Committees were constituted to deliberate on critical issues such as full dematerialization, E-dividend mandate, new listings, review of the Investment and Securities Act 2007 and other relevant laws,  roadmap on commodities ecosystem, market transaction costs etc; with a view to deepening the capital market by facilitating wealth creation. Surely, these professionals deserve some recognition as a mark of appreciation for their invaluable efforts. This issue, according to credible sources is already being attended to by the leadership of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Recent reports in the media indicate that the apex regulator is already checkmating activities of illegal capital market operators, especially Ponzi scheme promoters. The Commission has sealed off many business premises of illegal operators who have defrauded Nigerians of millions of Naira and caused untold hardship and pain for many. Examples of such enforcement actions recently carried out include the sealing of the premises of Dantata Success and Profitable Company Ltd in Kano and Growers Circle in Lagos. Prior to this intervention by the Commission, many unsuspecting members of the public had fallen for their mouthwatering scams. The Commission must continue to ensure that its surveillance ante is upped in order to curb the nefarious activities of these illegal operators and as much as possible nip them in the bud before they negatively affect the investment climate.

Investor education is key to winning this war against Ponzi schemes and the Commission is increasing its commitment to this critical function.The Acting Director-General, Ms. Uduk had this to say amongst others, at a recent function: “these fraudsters or promoters of Ponzi Schemes are the false prophets of the investment environment; they are the ill wind that blows no good and at whose sight you must flee. They are to be avoided. This is one message you must take to your family, friends, relations and acquaintances, in order to save them from the agony of loss of their ‘hard earned’ money.” Talk about wise counsel! For the avoidance of any doubt, it is important to state here that the investor owes himself a duty of due diligence before committing funds to any investment in order to avoid regrets and losses.

The way to go about it is to satisfy the five cardinal requirements of internationally accepted investors guide viz: Is the promoter or seller licensed? Is the investment registered? How do the risks compare with the advertised rewards? Do I understand the investment? Where can I turn to for help?

The Commission, in an effort to further deepen the market has introduced new rules and made amendment to existing ones within the last one year.  One of such new rules is the rule on Green Bonds. The rules specify the definition of greenbonds, qualification for the bond, conditions for approval, utilization and management of proceeds, reporting and refinancing.Thus, a new frontier has been created by the Commission, which would serve as a bulwark against the ugly effects of environmental degradation.

This culminated in the approval granted by the Commission to Access Bank for the floating of its Access Bank Green Card Bond which offer size was N15 billion at a coupon rate of 15.5 percent and a tenor of 5 years. Also, the North South Power Green Bond Issuanceis for a tenor of 15 years with an offer size of N8.5 billion and a coupon rate of 15.6 percent. This is quite commendable because it is the first of its kind in Africa.

A notable amendment made to the SEC Rules is the inclusion of BVN as a valid means of identifying individual clients in the market while others coverthe investment advisory services, nominee accounts and investment advisers. These far-reaching amendments show the professionalism and expertise of those at the helm of affairs and the capacity of the Commission to regulate the marketproperly.

Ms. Mary Uduk joined SEC in 1986 as an Assistant Financial Analyst and at various times headed several departments in the Commission, including the Internal Control, Securities and Investment Services, Investment Management department among others.

She has demonstrated professionalism in handling the regulatory functions of the Commission, showing capacity to take the necessary steps that are in the best interest of the market, while giving a listening ear to both staff of the Commission and other stakeholders.

Indeed, she has shown capacity to take the Commission and the market to the next level and needs to be supported. Her performance, has shown that excellence in leadership and management is not necessarily a function of gender and that indeed what a man can do, a woman can do even better. Her tenure might just be the beginning of a renaissance, which the Commission so desperately needs. As the saying goes, the morning shows the day, and so if in an acting capacity she has achieved so much stability and progress, then it is better imagined what she would deliver, in a substantive capacity.

A new day indeed beckons at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

– Omogun is a public affairs analyst


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