I’m ready to die for SEC– Oteh

0
365

Ms. Arunma Oteh, Director General, Security and Exchange
Commission, (SEC) who has been in the news over her leadership style was an
award recipient in Anambra State recently. In this interview, she speaks on
development at the stock market and other sundry issues

 Your
award as the most historic woman of the year 2012 is coming at a time when you
are receiving lots of attacks

I
have received a lot of attack recently, but when I got the letter that the
Anambra State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists wanted to honour me as
the most historic woman of the year, I almost shed tears. This is because
despite what people are doing to bring you down, there are people somewhere who
are appreciative of the good work we do.
I
am not afraid to say that I will always do the right thing as the
Director-General of the Security and Exchange Commission. I am not moved by
what people are doing trying to pull me down, so long as I know that I am doing
the right thing. In the past, we had a capital market where people wear suits
and sit down to steal money belonging to peasants, but when I came in I told
myself that all these have got to stop. We must sanitise our capital market and
build a trust that will let the poor man put his savings in it and be assured
that it will not be stolen by people. What I am doing at the SEC, I am ready to
die for. I’m not afraid to die so long as I am doing the right thing, and I’m
very emboldened by the fact that people are watching, no matter the level of
conspiracy against one, people are seeing your efforts and at the right time,
one will be rewarded for every good work.
How
best could you describe events happening at the SEC?
A
lot is happening and we are trying to grow people’s investment, not by our
words but by our actions, and today we have a market that is a world class
market. That is why today our equities market, on daily basis, is flocked by
values from international investors, which make up 80 percent.
We
Nigerians must enjoy the fruit of our hard work, if market prices are low
today, and we have some money to save, we should try and put that money in the
market so that it will grow your finances and you will have more money.
Are
there differences between the capital market you met and the capital market we
have today?
We
always say at the SEC that, let us learn from the horrible things that happened
in the past; our people suffered in the past because there was a lot of
misrepresentation.
Even
up to 2010 it was still happening. People were told that their money will just
double, and many of our people are crying because they sold their houses, they
took their life savings and put them there. That is not what we are saying
today. We are saying if you want to invest, you must ask questions. It is not
enough for us to just tell the people that once you put your money, it will
double. Ask questions, if you are told it is Lever Brothers or Nestle, you will
know they have a distribution network everywhere and you will make enquiries to
know about the market price.
And
you must go to meet financial experts and ask them questions before you invest.
It is your right to ask questions, but please don’t wait for people to come
from other countries and invest today and when you are ready to invest, it
would be that prices have gone to the top. Last year when we went to Rivers
State, the deputy governor there told us a story. He said his father told him
that if you have N10,000 and you cannot save, when you earn N100million you
will still not be able to save.
What
that means is that you do not have to wait until you have all the money before
you begin to save money.
How
much have you done to spread the gospel of savings to Nigerians?
Here
at SEC, we value journalists a lot. I cannot talk enough about the importance
of saving and investing, but those of you who write, who present programmes on
TV and on radio probably do more in sending the message about saving and
investing, about borrowing long term, listing your companies on the Nigeria
Stock market.
For
us it is very important that we partner with journalists. One of the new
initiatives we have for journalists is that we will have a Journalists Academy
this year.
This
is because we feel that the more that you are familiar with the Nigerian
capital market, the more that you can report back, so when we publicise about
the Journalists Academy through the Anambra Council, we encourage journalists
in Anambra to apply in your numbers. I think it is on 10th of December that we
are going to have the Journalists Academy, but most importantly, next week, we
will be publishing a new initiative which we call the SEC award for
Journalists, it is an essay competition on the Nigerian capital market, and I
encourage you to try and participate in this essay in your numbers.
Saving
and investing is very critical to building a nation, and no nation can develop
without a strong capital market, if you want medium to long-term money for
businesses, it comes from the capital market. One, it creates wealth and helps
you to train up your children, so that you can retire and still live well.
Everything that is negative in the economy affects the capital market because
capital market is about the state of the economy.
What
effect do you think that the flood this year will have on the economy?
I
feel that Nigeria as led by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, a number of very
senior private and public sector officials who have been constituted to scout
for money to help these people, will do a good work and help save whatever
negative impact it may have on the economy. We have Nigerians who have lost
their homes and means of livelihood because of the flood, but I know that
efforts are in place to see how they can be rehabilitated. This also has to do
with agriculture in the country as most farmlands have been submerged and we
are hopeful that the federal government will support agriculture. As you know,
the federal government is very supportive of agriculture, as agriculture
provides 42 percent of our GDP and also 70 percent of employment and,
therefore, when something like flood happens, it is important that urgent steps
be taken.
Most
companies especially in the South East do not get quoted on the stock market,
what is the reason for this?
Traditionally,
Igbos are known for investing in their children, in real estate and in growing
their businesses. I think there are areas where we can learn and do better. We
must know that if we must only control our businesses, we will not grow as fast
as we hope. We have a town like Nnewi that has some of the greatest businesses
in Nigeria, and some of those businesses need to be listed on the Nigerian
Stock Exchange, so that they can be like Honeywell, Dangote and the rest. We
need to encourage our businessmen to move from the culture of controlling their
businesses themselves and let others buy into them, so that they can grow. But
Igbo people are known for enterprise, but we need to step our games up.
Source: The Nation

LEAVE A REPLY

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.