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oluwaseyi Abe

We Cannot Compromise On Due Process

You presided over the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) on April 30, 2015. What were the remote and immediate circumstances that led to the development?

The remote circumstances, if you want it that way was that our President, Mr Albert Okumagba stepped aside due to issues relating to the oversight function of SEC as the apex regulator in the Capital Market on BGL, where he was Group MD/CEO. In view of this development, the Council met and unanimously agreed that I stepped into his shoe immediately to prevent a vacuum. This is in line with our structure and the provisions of our Act. Recall that this was announced at the said AGM and in line with our openness, effective and professional communication procedure. The Institute also issued a Press Statement to the media, I am sure you are aware to forestall speculative reporting of the matter.

Could you relate the development to the relevant rules guiding the operations of the CIS?

This question is similar to my earlier explanations. Our Institute has a clear structure for succession. Our rules provide that if the President cannot act for any reason, the First Vice President steps in. It is straight forward, and absolutely consistent with our procedures. That is exactly what happened.

At the AGM, it was announced that CIS has moved from losses spanning six years to profit. What are the critical success factors and how will these be sustained?

When our team led by Albert E. Okumagba took over the mantle of leadership in 2014, we put in place clear strategies designed to reposition the Institute. This achieved results in the following areas – debt recovery, higher income from selffinancing activities, efficient cost management and control and support from other organisations that share our vision. Our Institute has what it takes to be at the commanding height at the global level of professional organisations and we shall continue to explore more opportunities through without losing focus.

As the man mandated by the Council to pilot the affairs of the CIS under the present situation, what is your immediate preoccupation?

I will continue to work with my team to consolidate on the gains we have recorded in the last one year, while further enhancing the profile of the Institute through new initiatives. Our members are quite supportive as they believe that CIS belongs to all of us. Our on-going efforts to expand membership base through a series of strategies would be pursued with renewed vigour. We have signed Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) with many organisations for aggressive marketing of our Professional Diploma in Securities and Investments as a way of attracting more youths into the programme. A lot of discussions are going on between the institute and some government parastatals for mutual benefits. As a good corporate citizen we are mindful of playing a pivotal role to support the government in tackling unemployment problems among our youths. We are also in the forefront of advising the governments at all tiers on the benefits of utilising the capital market to finance infrastructural deficit. We are also expanding the frontiers of our investor education because millions of Nigerians are yearning for education on the investment opportunities in the capital market. There is no doubt that our projects are capital intensive but we are confident that all shall be well as we are also talking to a number of high-profile organisations for support.

There are insinuations from some quarters that Mr. Albert Okumagba was not on the Council of CIS before his election as the President and Chairman of Council in April last year.

The insinuations are absolutely incorrect. Let me put the records straight: Mr. Okumagba was re- elected to Council on Thursday, April 25, 2013 through the ballot of members of the Institute. He was therefore a Council member by the time he was elected president on the 29th of April, 2014. Indeed, prior to that he had served on Council between December 1999 and November 2005.

But some people perceived that by Mr Okumagba’s election as the President has displaced Mr. Emmanuel Ohanwusi who as the First Vice President, the rightful person to occupy the position of the president in line with theInstitute’s succession rules.

The Institute has clear rules for election of m embers to Council and as Off i c e Be a r e r s . These r u l e s are followed to the letter by Council. For instance, Rule 3 (i) of the Rules for Election to the office of the President and Chairman of Council stipulates that, to qualify for election. a candidate should not have an ‘’adverse finding made against him under the Investigation and disciplinary Procedures, Bye-laws or rules and regulations of CIS, other professional bodies and regulatory authorities within a period of 10 years prior to such proposed election”. Unfortunately, at the time of Mr. Ohanwusi’s nomination as a candidate for election as President and Chairman of Council of the Institute, he did not satisfy the provision of this rule, and therefore was not eligible for nomination.

How would you respond to the view that rather than make you the then serving second Vice President the President until the conclusion of the investigation, the Council made Okumagba the President ?

Well, although the rules for election to the office of President and Chairman of Council allow for continuity, it is not automati c that office bearers move to the next position. Rule 2 of the Rules for election to the office of President and Chairman of Council provides that ‘…there shall be a formal election to determine the appointment”. This means that the First Vice President has to be formally elected by Council members to become President and the Second Vice President has to be formally elected by Council to become second Vice President. At the time the tenure of the then serving President and Chairman of Council, Mr Ariyo Olushekun expired, there was no candidate nominated for the position of President, as Mr. Ohanwusi had withdrawn his candidacy for the election in view of the pending case he had before the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Institute. The Rules for the election of President and Chairman of Council of the Institute did not provide that I,the serving Second Vice President, would automatically be elected as President in this circumstance. As I said earlier, relevant rules guiding election of Office bearers stipulate that there shall be a formal election to determine appointment to the position of office bearers notwithstanding Council’s desire for continuity. Thereafter, Council in its wisdom decided to throw open the position to all eligible Council members including my humble self so as not to create a vacuum. Interested and eligible Council members were then presented for election as office bearers. Elections were held among Council members, and the process led to the emergence of Mr. Albert Okumagba as President, and other office bearers in their respective offices. But some people are still of the opinion that the Council of CIS abandoned its laid down rules. That is not a fair and accurate assessment of the situation. There is no question abandoning rules on the part of the Council. Anyone who is familiar with our Council’s rules would boldly assert that CIS operates with the highest level of integrity, ethical standards and corporate governance principles. The Institute has representatives from SEC, NSE, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Education and Bankers’ Committee on Council. We operate with clear rules, policies and procedures which are strictly adhered to in decision making and day- to- day operations. I can assure you that the Institute will never abandon its principles and strongly held core values.

Recently, you led a team from the institute to hold a meeting with the Minister of Education in Abuja. What was the mission?

We went to see the Minister to explore various possibilities for collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education in view of the similar mandate we share. We specifically sought for his support in our bid to get accreditation for our Diploma Programme for admission into higher institution. We also discussed with the Minister how we can work with the Ministry to promote investors education and capacity building especially in schools.

The institute is deploying various strategies to address the challenges of paucity of members. What is the update on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU’s) which CIS signed with some organisations for strategic marketing of Professional Diploma in Securities and Investment?

Let me reiterate here that the idea of the MOUs is to create opportunities for thousands of teeming youths interested in pursuing a career in the financial market, thereby supplying the manpower requirement of the nation towards achieving the national saving strategy and financial inclusion plan. The organisations (mobilizers) have settled down to work. But there is a lot of ground to cover. We are positive that all these efforts will yield dividend.

The institute has been playing a pivotal role in the engagement with the capital market regulators on the issue of recapitalisation of market operators. Is September 2015 deadline still remaining sacrosanct?

We are really working in collaboration with regulators and other stakeholders to ensure that the exercise is smooth. We succeeded in securing an extension of the recapitalization deadline. We are still at the fore front of engagements with the regulators to ensure that the interest of operators is protected. It will be pre-emptive to go beyond this information for now. But we are getting on well with the regulators.

There is the problem of negative reaction to the capital market as a fall out 2008 meltdown. What strategy is being put in place by the market operators to woo back investors into the market?

It is a multi-faceted approach: first, the investors must be educated and informed that our market has recovered, and that current price swings are normal. Second, the NSE must fashion out a policy that encourages the licensing of more stockbroking firms to operate in the remote states and towns. Third, corporate governance at all levels must be significantly enhanced. Fourth, the government also has a role to play in providing liquidity to stabilise the market. Finally, efforts should be stepped up to revitalise the primary market and promote new listings of local and foreign firms.

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