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SEC Nigeria Vs Honourable Hembe: Enough of the Banter

By on March 21, 2012

Editors Note: This guest post is written by Aretha Dadzie

The so called SEC probe has sure generated a lot of heat with accusations trailing back and forth as to who did what. My concern however is the impact this will actually have on the capital market. I am also curious as to why there would be a proposed inquiry into the cause of the crash of the stock market. I thought that was common -knowledge, or is the Nigerian capital market suddenly isolated from the global community.

The Nigerian capital market has actually fared better than most stock markets. Prices are generally low and while other developed nations are taking steps to identify the root cause and prevent similar occurrences in the future by putting in place proper corporate governance measures, Nigeria is tearing down its own capital market with its own hands.  Nigeria’s SEC had done good to put in place a code of corporate governance like other developed nations. Why an inquiry into the near collapse a market in 2009 is being conducted in 2012 eludes me.

Without taking sides, could this inquiry not have been done more discreetly given the sensitivity of the stock market? What happens where owing to the public banter that has been going on, investors panic and dump shares amounting to a further collapse, would another inquiry then be set up to look into what was man-made?

Forgive me but the Honourable Hembe could have at least educated himself a little about the operations of the capital market before questioning a Harvard graduate. What exactly does he understand by investor protection? Does he require the SEC to set up police check points around each and every investor? Or perhaps there should be a review of the Investments and Securities Act to reflect this perception by the Honourable Hembe.

I’m not a fan of Nigerian probes because usually the prosecutor is often a persecutor who would dare not cast the first stone should it be a criteria that it be cast by he who has no sin. I remember the analysis by Professor Itse Sagay’s undenied assertion that the members of the House of Representatives earn N203.8Million, A member of the House of Representatives also earns N347, 945 per day. Are they therefore truly concerned, assuming without conceding that Ms. Oteh spent N850,000 on food, or are they merely offended that she (a woman, I hate to sound feminist) spends as much as they do?

In a childish retort, Hon. Hembe now claims he was offered a bribe by the SEC. I need to be educated but which would be of more concern to the a legislator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and which should he tackle heads on first, a bribery offer by a director general in 2012 or a meal of N850,000 some years back. I’m curious as to how it escaped his memory that he was bribed until the allegation was made against him and why it took well over 5 days for that to come to public light.

I may be no lawyer but I know that the Director-General is innocent until proven guilty and so is Honourable Hembe. However, it would seem that some degree of expert evidence is required for the alleged Memo of the SEC which purportedly incriminates the DG. Can someone please explain to me why a Memo that was issue on the 9th of March 2012 suddenly seems like a document out of a 1990 file? Why exactly are the words unclear? I’m also unable to see exactly where it incriminates the DG. Yes, I am alleging a forgery or fabrication!

My concern is the impact of all this ignorance on the stock market. This is a national disgrace. Again our lawmakers have thrown all sense of patriotism to the wind and proceeded heads on to tear down the capital market with their hands. How do we expect to attract Foreign Direct Investments this way? How do we expect to retain Investor confidence in the market? Assuming without conceding that the DG is guilty or the House had proven allegations against her, why was she not invited by the EFCC as against the House of Representatives.

As for the SEC, I think it is disastrous (assuming without conceding that the memos are real) for such confidential documents to get to public light. Serious House-keeping Issues need to be put underway. There are moles in the SEC which need to be flushed out. Nigeria will only move forward when we learn to set aside our personal vendetta in the interest of national development and security.

The House of Representatives wants to know why the market nearly collapsed. I’ll tell them, it was never standing on its own; it was leaning on the Nigerian Banking Sector, grown with margin loans. The recession came and its creditors called in their funds leaving it naked. If our leaders read they would have this answer and would spare the nation this show of shame and the waste of funds gone into setting up the so called enquiry.