Trouble is brewing at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) following alleged plan to extend the tenure of its Director-General, Arunma Oteh, or grant her a second term.
Employees of the commission, acting under the banner of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Employees, are threatening an indefinite strike should the forces pushing for tenure elongation for her, have their way.
Oteh, who is the fourth DG of SEC, assumed office in January 2010, having been Vice-President, Corporate Services of African Development Bank (ADB) and her five-year tenure will end on January 1, 2015.
Although the SEC DG optionally ought to go on a three-month exit leave, she chose to stay till the last minutes following assurances from some forces in the Presidency that her tenure might be extended or renewed by the President.
The development has made Oteh not to prepare her handover notes before the Christmas break as it is customary in the public service.
A top source in SEC said: “Five days to the end of the tenure of the DG of SEC, she has not unfolded her exit and transit succession plan to the management and staff.
“We learnt that some forces are pushing for either the extension or renewal of her tenure to complete her transformation agenda in the capital market.
“Those seeking the tenure extension/renewal also claimed that Oteh is the current chairperson of Africa Middle East Regional Committee (AMERC) of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). They said she was re-elected in September 2014 for another two-year term and Nigeria ought not to lose such a position.
“Others claimed that being a First Class graduate of Computer Science, Oteh is a member of the nation’s Economic Management Team whose service is required at a critical economic crisis period Nigeria is undergoing.
“They also cited Section 5(1 and 2) of the Investments and Securities Act 2007 to buttress their point that Oteh can be granted second term in office.”
The section says: “The DG and the three full time commissioners shall be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the minister and confirmation by the Senate.
“The DG shall hold office for a period of five years in the first instance and may be reappointed for a further period of five years and no more.”
But management staff and workers are opposed to any plan to extend Oteh’s tenure because of her alleged high-handedness; alleged one-man management style; face-off with the House of Representatives on some expenditures; low value the SEC had witnessed during her tenure; and irreconcilable differences with staff.
A union leader said that “We are tired of Oteh’s administration in SEC. The President should let her quit and bring a fresh hand. She has never enjoyed the confidence of her workers for five years. So, what is the rationale for retaining her?
“Instead, security agencies were used to hound staff making legitimate demands. Those arrested were Mohammed Salihu; Racheal Olenloa; John Briggs; Mamman Ali Abba; and Dickson Durugo.
“The face-off she had with the House of Representatives led to the unending cold war between the presidency and the National Assembly today. We don’t want such a DG again.
“You will recall that at a point, she was suspended by the Federal Government and later recalled. What the workers are saying is that the capital market will be better without her in SEC.”
Responding to a question, the union leader added: “We wanted to go on strike three months ago but we were prevailed upon to shelve it since Oteh’s tenure will end on January 1, 2015. Now, some forces are seeking the renewal or extension of her tenure. We cannot be deceived at all. Oteh must go.”
“The outgoing DG of SEC was suspended on June 12, 2012 but she was later recalled by the Federal Government via a letter from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim.
The reinstatement followed an audit report on SEC by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Her recall has however created a wedge between the Executive and the House of Representatives apart from protest by workers of SEC.
The recall however created a wedge between the presidency and the House of Representatives because Oteh was reinstated on the eve of the presentation of the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Capital Market on the activities of SEC.
The crisis between the House and Oteh followed a public hearing into the activities of the capital market.
During the hearing, the then Chairman of the House Committee on Capital market and Other Institutions, Herman Hembe, had alleged that Oteh was not qualified to be DG of SEC.
He said the committee also discovered how Oteh allegedly spent N850, 000 on hotel accommodation in a day with N85, 000 to wit on a meal.
But Oteh took exception to allegations by Hembe that she is not qualified to be the DG of SEC; seconding of two Access Bank employees to SEC; and how she allegedly spent N850, 000 on hotel accommodation in a day with N85, 000 to wit on a meal.