Finally, Oteh bows out of SEC as Director General

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After weeks of intrigues and intense lobbying, the Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Arunma Oteh has finally taken a bow from the exalted job.

President Goodluck Jonathan rejected a request for the extension of tenure and approved the appointment of a Commissioner in the Commission, Mounir Gwarzo, as acting Director-General.

Inside source claimed that the President rejected a memo from the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, seeking a second term for Oteh.

The memo was said to be based on the Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF) Anyim Pius Anyim’s recommendation.

Though originally favoured to grab the second term because of her closeness to both the President and Finance Minister, sources claimed that an evaluation showed that her performance was “neither sterling nor spectacular.”

The government reportedly found that the stock market has not recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, besides, Oteh may have been sacrificed to resolve the lingering “Executive-National Assembly face-off” over her tenure.

“Despite intense lobbying by some government officials and business players, the President stood his ground that Ms. Oteh should not come back.

“Jonathan rejected a memo from the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala seeking the retention of Ms. Oteh. The Minister based the case for Oteh on a strong recommendation by the SGF, Anyim Pius Anyim.

“To some extent, the SGF misled the Minister because the indices did not add up for Oteh as to earn a renewal of tenure. There was no convincing statistics to prove that Oteh has led the stock market to a leap recovery.

“No one could explain why the Office of the SGF which suspended her while in office will be the one championing her retention. I think there was a tribal connotation to it.

“The evaluation of her tenure indicated an average performance because she was rated as ‘neither sterling nor spectacular. The President chose to look beyond ethnic sentiments and stood on the side of truth and the public yearning for a change in SEC.

“Stakeholders in the Stock Exchange Market, workers and others alike wanted a fresh breath of air in SEC. You will recall that at the peak of SEC crisis in 2012, Ms. Oteh’s commissioners even disowned her.

However, in a statement announcing Oteh’s exit on Sunday, the Commission said Oteh would be remembered for her passion, purpose, articulation and implementation of reform measures driven by the vision to transform the Nigerian capital market into world class.

“She was in a hurry to see Nigeria achieve a world class capital market that will drive development and make Nigeria one of the most attractive investment destination,” it said.

Some of her accomplishments, according to the statement, include restoration of investor confidence through strong enforcement actions and improvement of rules and regulations and investor education.

It said that SEC established the National Investor Protection Fund and strengthened its Administrative Proceedings Committee to deepen and broaden the market.

The statement said that “The market witnessed significant product innovation, improved listing rules, landmark bond market reforms widening of participation in the markets through licensing and coming on stream of other capital trade points.

“Under her leadership, the SEC also championed reforms at the Nigeria Stock Exchange that witnessed a more robust output and delivery in its operator/oversight role.”

The initiative to revamp NSE listing rules, it said, led to landmark transactions in dual listing of SEPLAT Petroleum on the NSE and the London Stock Exchange in April 2014, as well as the development of an alternative securities market.

It said Oteh would certainly be remembered for rescuing the capital market from the doldrums in which it was mired as a result of sharp practices that were rife and the global financial crisis soon after she assumed office in January 2010.

Oteh was appointed by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2009 but resumed in January 2010.

However, sources close to the Commission told our correspondent that the Oteh’s decision to quit became absolutely necessary following her failure to secure the support of the Presidency through a powerful lobby group advocating an extension of her terms.

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