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ONYIUKE: WHAT SEC COULD HAVE DONE

By NBF News
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Attitudes of those in leadership positions in Nigeria have remained a riddle that need to be untied. That one would serve meritoriously, putting all and sacrificing all in the service to make positive impact only to be treated with disdain is one cankerworm that should be done away with if others would be encouraged to put in their best.

It is becoming a tradition that those who deserve celebration are mocked while those who should be mocked are glorified and handsomely rewarded and elevated. The system of forgetting one's achievements in a hurry only to visit the person with animosity and personal vendetta is what will kill the morale of patriotic Nigerians. It will discourage a lot of people from giving their best in service.

Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke the erstwhile Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) was sacked without due process. She has become the unsung heroine of our time.

She assumed office as the Chief Executive of the NSE since January 2000 but joined The NSE in 1983 after returning to Nigeria from the United States. She has served the Exchange in various capacities over the years, gaining a strong knowledge of all the operations of the Exchange.

While in the United States, Professor Onyiuke served at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as Exchange Services Manager and Systems Consultant from 1976 to 1983. She participated in the very selective Executive Exchange Program during President Carter's White House years and was nominated and listed in the 'WHO IS WHO OF AMERICA' in 1981.

The recent crisis that enveloped the NSE which culminated in Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) wading in with the stick without carrot spells the animosity that existed within the ranks and file in the Exchange. The crisis which was heightened by forces who felt that it is just right time to take their pound of flesh got deadlier when SEC acting in a hurry took action before investigations and auditing.

Although some public commentators spoke widely on the issue, the stockbrokers who are directly involved in the overrunning of the market are not happy that Madam DG as Obasanjo would address her, should instead of being lifted high for nurturing the Nigerian Capital Market (Nigerian Stock Exchange) to first class level in the comity of Exchanges, received the kind of treatment reserved for fraudsters and criminals.

The action of the SEC in this regard smacks of little knowledge of what happened otherwise caution would have been the watch word. We can remember in the past, Federal Government sacked the same DG but the decision was upturned by a competent court of jurisdiction. It is believed that SEC did not read the Act that backs the Director General of the Exchange before taking actions. Let it not be that on the advice of another regulator or independent manager, SEC took the action. If the SEC had called the arrow heads in the crisis to a round table discussion to find out the genesis of the revelation, the action would have received fair comments.

The implication is that all her efforts over the years in bringing Nigerian Stock Exchange to international standards and making it the envy of many nationals is rewarded with ignominious exit. SEC as a regulator of the Nigerian Capital Market should be an unbiased umpire who would have gone into this audit before taking the actions. By taking action before the audit, it acted like putting the cart before the whorse. What happens to the image of the DG if after the audit she is found innocent?

Another opinion shared by most operators in the market is that SEC being determined to exit the amiable DG from office should have given her soft landing by asking her to proceed on indefinite leave that may terminate after her retirement is expired. If the Commission had done that, her entitlement as a dogged fellow that laboured tirelessly to bring the Exchange to the level it is now would have been intact. The operators argue that whoever everyone advised that the DG should be sacked ill advised the Commission.

Onyiuke, know, has hobbled and lifted the Nigerian Capital Market to international standards. One would argue that she was in charge of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE); however there is no capital market in Nigeria without NSE. It is precisely her efforts through awareness campaigns that saw Nigerians embracing stock investment as a subtle and genuine way of making money without stress. Of course no mention will be made of the NSE without the good works of the former DG being uppermost.

Onyiuke transformed the 'Call over system' holding sway in the Exchange into an automated trading system. It was under Onyiuke that NSE started T+3 settlement cycles in 2000; in April 13, 2002 the Exchange opened Yola Branch while that of Benin Office came on swing in January 27, 2005. That Central Securities Clearing System launched Trade Alert Scheme is to her credit; under her directorship, Nigerian quoted companies started listing in international Exchanges while international companies started listing in Nigerian Stock Exchange. Many other branches of the Exchange were also opened within the period under review. Just to mention this few.

This aspect of her awareness campaign in establishing branches of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in various states in the federation helped in bringing stock market investment windows nearer to the people. It brought capital market investment window to the door posts of every Nigerian. Today Nigerians of every trade and service invest in the stock market thereby increasing their investment portfolios.

To her credit, she over saw the establishment of the sole Clearing House and subsidiary to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the CENTRAL SECURITIES CLEARING SYSTEM LIMITED (CSCS), as Project Director. Her wealth of experience became a pride to all that knew her such that international organizations sought to tap and leverage on their achievements. This gained her various encomiums that would be limitless to mention.

Onyiuke also makes extensive contributions to several INTERNATIONAL organizations and Forums including the World Federation of Exchanges and the World Economic Forum. Professor Ndi Okereke Onyiuke, OON is the immediate past Chairman of the African Stock Exchanges Association ASEA.