The Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Arunma Oteh, returned to the House of Representatives yesterday with a divided management team.
The House’s Ad Hoc Committee probing the near collapse of the capital market had on Tuesday threatened to order her arrest if she failed to report yesterday.
Oteh had written to the panel explaining her absence even as she requested her response to members’ questions in writing rather than attend physically. To this, the committee chairman, Hon. Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi, warned her to appear yesterday or risk sanctioning.
Former Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Prof. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, who Oteh had accused of some wrongdoings during her tenure on Monday, appeared before the panel to clear her name Tuesday.
But when Oteh faced the panel yesterday, her management team took her up on many policy issues.
They accused Oteh of introducing administrative style that had eroded trust in the commission and caused the regulatory agency to be comatose.
The development is coming a day after Prof Okereke –Onyiuke branded her a lawless SEC boss.
The first indication that all was not well with Oteh and members of the executive management emerged when the latter denied knowledge of the process that led to the engagement of two staff of Access Bank Plc on secondment by the SEC boss. They claimed that Oteh did not involve them in the decision. Their allegation was contrary to an earlier statement by the DG that the issue was discussed and agreed upon by the executive management.
Prior to that, the Director, Human Resources, Useni Dauda, had told the panel that due process was not followed in the recruitment of some contract staff. He said the staff were brought by Oteh when she assumed office and were yet to get the endorsement of the executive management.
He also refused to deny the allegation that the contract of the staff was renewed despite the advice of the audit department.
Oteh defended her action, saying that steps were being taken to ratify the appointments of the staff. She, however, declined response to the question on why she renewed the appointments despite an advice to the contrary.
In a similar fashion, the executive management also disagreed with the SEC boss on the roadmap document being implemented in the capital market. Oteh had told the panel that the document, which captured how the capital market would be raised to a world class standard, had the input of stakeholders and the management.
But in their reaction, the five SEC commissioners said the document was neither discussed at the management meeting nor given to them individually for their input. The Commissioner-in-Charge of Legal, Charles Udora, caused a stir when he screamed that nobody had ever approached him over the document. “I do not know anything about the document. Nobody sought my input or attention on the roadmap”, he said.
The five commissioners equally denied being involved in the organization and celebration of the ‘Project 50’, a golden jubilee celebration to mark SEC’s 50 years. One after the other, they described as untrue earlier claim by Oteh that the celebration, which she chaired, had the support and participation of the management and staff of the commission.
The panel had grilled Oteh over donations by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and some private organizations for the celebration, a claim the SEC boss denied.
Hon Bimbo Daramola (ACN, Ekiti) spilled the beans on the mistrust and infighting in the commission, while Commissioners Daisy Ekina and Udora said that the staff were disenchanted with the goings-on in the organization. Udora said the loss of trust in the leadership of SEC had resulted in staff exhibiting indifference on matters concerning the commission.
He said: “Our staff are no longer committing themselves to the organization because they feel they are not recognized”.
Although he said that there was nothing wrong in engaging contract staff by the commission, he claimed that efforts are not being made by the current leadership to properly guide the staff such that they would be beneficial to the organization.
Udora’s short address elicited applause. Ekina also spoke in a similar manner. She said that staff morale was low due to their continued disregard by the leadership. She said: “What I can confirm is that the morale is low, there is mistrust among the staff”.
Oteh refused to join issues with the executive management. Instead, she insisted that she was focused on the transformation of the capital market. Before the commencement of proceedings yesterday, Oteh apologized to the committee for her failure to appear before it on Tuesday. She explained that the action was as a result of her participation in the meeting with the National Economic Management Team, chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The committee adjourned the hearing to Tuesday next week.
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