The on-going hearing by the House committee on the capital market has become the latest battle ground for the bitter feud among executives of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) where a clear out of most of the leadership is expected next month, following the expiration of the term of the executive commissioners.
Arunma Oteh, the director- general, who was appointed in 2010 and still has three years to run in her first term, appears to be locked in a fierce battle with her executive commissioners, some of whom campaigned vigorously for her job two years ago and by their well-choreographed answers at the hearing, it was obvious that there was no love lost between the old and the new, say insiders.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the executive commissioners took turns to deny taking any part in many important initiatives and actions of Oteh, in an attempt to present what appeared to be a sharp divide, apparent mutual distrust and animosity between the DG and other members of SEC’s executive management.
Business Day learnt that the current executive commissioners came into office in June 2008 and their four-year tenure expires next month. On the other hand, Oteh who took office in January 2010, still has three years to the end of her first term.
According to one former senior SEC staff, “It is important to remember that at least two of the commissioners have each spent not less than 20 years at the SEC, having been appointed from within the commission. That is a huge plus in terms of in-house experience, but it also creates an entitlement mentality – the feeling that Oteh, regardless of her pedigree, is an outsider and that the SEC really belongs to them. That is easily the genesis of the mutual distrust, which came to light at the public hearing on Wednesday.”
Evidence available to Business Day shows that although the executive commissioners denied knowledge and participation in Project 50, they took active part in the planning, and played key roles in the October 31st 2011 event.
For instance, as they admitted, the board of the commission, comprising all executive commissioners, the DG and non-executive commissioners approved the SEC expenditure for the project to the tune of N42 million.
Contrary to claims by the commissioner legal, Charles Udora that regular staff of the SEC were not involved in any way, the list of SEC Project 50 sub-committee heads obtained yesterday, however shows that only two contract staffers were committee heads, namely Frana Chukwuogor and Obi Adindu.
The sub-committee leaders were Microsite, Technology and Facilities: Henry Rowlands, Security and Crowd Controls: I. B. Bello; Travels, Protocol and Logistics: Ismaila Ville, Events Planning: Placida Itunah, Stakeholder Communication: Shaka Braimah, Media & PR: Lanre Oloyi/Obi Adindu, Content: Obi Adindu and Corporate Gifts & Memorabilia: Frana Chukwuogor.
The SEC management team also played key roles in the event which the Commissioners denied under oath on Tuesday. Pictures uploaded on the SEC website show all three executive commissioners among other participants at the event. In one photo you see Daisy Ekineh, Executive Commissioner Operations and a non-Executive member of the SEC board.
Another photo shows the unveiling of “Project 50” logo with Udora, Executive Commissioner Legal and Enforcement, Daisy Ekineh, President Shehu Shagari, Mallam Lamido Sanusi (CBN Governor) Oteh and others watching.
While Ekineh delivered the vote of thanks at the event, it was Udora who introduced former president Shehu Shagari, an award recipient who was recognised at the occasion for establishing the SEC in 1980.
In a statement on the SEC website, the matter of contract staff was explained. The statement said the 52 young professionals (often called YPs), were hired via a transparent and merit based recruitment process, as permanent staff in core areas of the SEC’s mandate – accounting, law, finance, ICT, economics and mathematics.
There was also the curious matter of the roadmap and according to our source, “whereas the commissioners denied playing any role in the evolution of the road map to a world class market, it was the board, comprised of the same commissioners, that handed Ms. Oteh the originating document on her resumption of duty in 2010”.