SEC working to resolve N80bn unclaimed dividend —Gwarzo

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is working to assuage investors’ ill feelings towards the capital market especially over the N80 billion unclaimed dividend.

SEC Director General, Mounir Gwarzo stated this Tuesday during a meeting with Management of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), in Abuja.

Gwarzo recalled that the market meltdown of 2008 resulted in investors losing money but that two years after, the Capital Market Committee (CMC) decided to prepare a document that will be able to address some of the challenges leading to the catastrophe.

He noted that upon inauguration, his management team decided to implement the plan that the entire market prepared and that is why every year the commission issue new initiatives that can drive the market.

Gwarzo listed some of the recorded achievements in implementing the Master Plan to include Recapitalization, Direct Cash Settlement, E-Dividend, National Investors Protection Fund (NIPF), and Corporate Governance Scorecard among others.

He emphasized that the only way to attract retail investors back to the market is to ensure that concrete steps are taken to adequately address their concerns especially the issue of unclaimed dividend.

“The issue of unclaimed dividend which according to our records is in excess of N80billion will also be a thing of the past. These unclaimed dividends came about from dividends of small stakeholders like you and me and we need to ensure that they are claimed.

“Once we are able to get through with the registration process, those dividends that are less than 12 years, once the registrars can certify that the people are the owners, they should be able to pay them. Gradually we should be able to address their problem of unclaimed dividends,” he said.

He also disclosed that with Direct Cash Settlement, the era where shares will be sold and the proceeds will be given to the broker who will them pay the client is over as what is obtainable now is that once the shares of an individual are sold, the proceed is paid directly into his bank account. With this once the client has authorized the broker and provided all his details, the proceeds will be paid into the client’s account.

“We have no other place to invest our little funds than in our market and that is why we are trying to cultivate your appetite and the only way to do that is to address some of these issues.

Once these issues are addressed and the retail investor returns, we will be able to raise participation in the market from 2% it is now to about 4% in the next 10 years.

“The BVN platform that is being provided for the e-Dividend will also enable us to implement other initiatives in the market. For instance, with the BVN platform everyone in this market that operates in this market as an investor will have his data within this system, so if anyone wants to defraud in this market, it cannot be done. People cannot impersonate others as the platform will expose them” he added while soliciting collaboration of media organizations to ensure effective implementation of the Capital Market Ten Year Master Plan.

The DG said a successful implementation of the plan is necessary to attract retail investors to the market, address some of the challenges that Nigeria’s Capital market faced during the global capital market crash that occurred in 2008-2010 and also raise the standard of the market.

Responding, the Director General of NTA, Yakubu Mohammed expressed the willingness of his organization to partner with the SEC to ensure that issues relating to the capital market are widely disseminated.

He said “The capital market is very technical and my knowledge is limited, I then wonder what the knowledge of the ordinary Nigerian will be and that is why this collaboration is necessary, there is a need for a strategic alliance between us.

We are willing to partner with SEC as we have a duty in this country to propagate and sell ideas and ensure that everyone is carried along in the affairs of the capital market”.