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Published On: Fri, Oct 31st, 2014

Is SEC under Oteh rising or falling?

Director-General, Ms. Arunma Oteh2Late September, Nigeria’s The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), won the ‘’Most Innovative Capital Markets Regulator’’ award for the third consecutive time, having won it in 2012 and 2013; Aminu Imam, in this report, traces the efforts of the Director-General, Ms. Arunma Oteh, which resulted in the three year long reforms being implemented by the leadership of the SEC.

Since Ms. Arunma Oteh assumed office as the head of the apex regulatory body of the Nigerian capital market, she has not left anyone in doubt of her mission to restore the market to an enviable position of a world-class one.

These efforts have been paying-off, given the series of awards the DG has been receiving in recent times.

Africa investor (Ai), a leading international investment and communications group, had announced the winners of the prestigious 2014 Ai Index Series Awards presented at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Similarly, Oteh won the ‘’African Capital Markets Personality of the Year’’ with Hubert Danso CEO of Africa investor saying Oteh was given the award for her outstanding work with the Commission.

Winning the award back – to – back for the second year running by trumping all other capital market regulatory agencies in Africa attests to the high regard in which the recent course of the Nigerian capital markets is held in the international market.

It speaks to the significant traction which the three – year long reforms being implemented by the leadership of the SEC, Nigeria’s apex capital markets regulator, finds among foreign investors and observers alike.

These multifaceted reforms have upped the Nigerian capital markets’ performance on all critical indicators in the past three years in unprecedented fashion. The reforms have institutionalized a culture of zero-tolerance for market infractions and indiscipline through a strong regime of market enforcement; market technology improvement through digitization and ICT deployment; enhanced market depth and breadth through product diversification and improvement; improved human capital through training and retraining; achieved a consensual approach to conceptualizing market development strategy through consistent and extensive regulator / operator and other stakeholder engagement, etc. These reform planks have applied market wide in a manner that has impacted every facet of the market beneficially.

In adjudging the SEC winner of the “Most Innovative Capital Markets Regulator” award, the judges considered the regulator’s Commitment to increasing transparency and efficiency, support for innovative technologies, employment of best regulatory practices, openness to foreign investors, investor protection (e.g. rules to prevent dilution and protect minority shareholders), visible impact and participation in industry associations such as IOSCO and efforts to create an enabling environment for the capital markets industry.

But the awards have not stopped coming, as only last Thursday, Oteh was announced as West Africa’s Business Woman of the year 2014 at Africa’s most prestigious business awards, the All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA).

At the ceremony, which was held in Lagos, Oteh was celebrated for her peerless vision and dedication in her role as Director General of SEC Nigeria as she has been an instrumental force in the on going growth and development of Nigeria’s economic landscape.

In an address at the event, Joe Nazzal, head of Reserve of ABN said, “The nominees in this year’s AABLA Awards exemplify the game-changing vision that has helped to grow the West African economy, with Nigeria making incredible strides in this regard.”

In her remarks after receiving the award, Oteh expressed her gratitude to CNBC Africa who she said has changed the landscape of business reporting and has been connecting Africa to the world.

“So, I am really honored that I amiable to be some evidence of excellence. I also just want to say that this recognition for me means very much. I had vision, but I had a team around me, the SEC staff who tapped into that vision. We also have had capital market operators who have aligned behind our vision. I want to celebrate SEC staff, capital market operators and Nigerians”, Oteh said.

While admitting that the Commission has taken some risks in the course of doing its work, Oteh however said that those risks have paid off adding that what is most important for her in this recognition is that around the world, capital market regulators feel that there is a greater understanding of the role that capital market play in transforming society.

“Whether it is to help businesses or creating jobs, whether it is just building a meritocracy, but even as we deal with the security challenges that we face today, all of us as regulators, whether market participants believe that what capital does is to enable social cohesion and enable us address some of the challenges that we face today.

“For me, this is significant in many ways, but most importantly, all over the world people know that without the capital market we cannot do the kind of businesses with a lot potentials. And I believe that in Africa and for us in Nigeria, we have laid the foundation over the last four years, but watch this space, it is a strong foundation and we will be greater” she added.

She described Nigeria as a role model in the regulation of capital markets, given the fact that the country sits on the board of the International Organisations of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) where it supports the organization in building the same kind of system that have been built in terms of regulation n Nigeria.

“We recognize that as the country that has the largest economy in Africa that we have to make sure that our capital market counts. We believe that it is very important for people to understand the value of capital markets in transforming society”, she added.

On her advise to investors, Oteh urged them to make sure that the learn about the options available to them which she says is their first line of defense.

She said, “When you have had a bad experience, in your next step, learn from the bad experience. The second one is track record, like in the case of Nigeria, this is a market where market integrity is priority, supporting our investor is a priority. “Therefore you have a regulator and you are sure the regulator will support you if you have any complains. First you need to learn and understand what the options are. You should know what you are saving for either the rainy day, for your child’s education, for the future or anything else”.

Other winners at the event were Atedo Peterside, Chairman IBTC Holdings Plc as West African Business Leader of the Year, Tayo Oviosu, CEO of Paga as West Africa’s Entrepreneur of the year, Chude Jideonwo and Adebola Williams of Red Media as West African Young Business Leader of the year and Subomi Balogun who won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The West African round marked the final regional leg of the AABLA Awards with East Africa’s business elite having been honored in Nairobi in September, and South Africa’s pioneers having been lauded earlier this month.

The winners of this round will then travel to South Africa for the AABLA finale on 14 November, where they will compete against other regional winners from Southern and East Africa for the title of Africa’s most exceptional business people in their respective fields.

Arunma Oteh became the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in January 2010 and was elected chairman, Africa Middle East Regional Commission (AMERC) of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) in June 2010. She is a member of the Nigerian Economic Management Team (NEMT) and the Agricultural Transformation Council, both chaired by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a Director of the Board of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria.

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