• Saturday, March 02, 2024
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SEC Nigeria shuts down four zonal offices as cash crunch bits harder

Securities-Exchange

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has shut down four of its zonal offices, saying that the decision became necessary “after a careful review of the operations and performances of all the zonal offices.”

Under the previous organisational structure of the SEC, it functioned with a head office in Abuja and seven zonal offices in Kaduna, Kano, Ibadan, Lagos, Maiduguri, Onitsha and Port Harcourt.

SEC said it decided to close down Kaduna, Ibadan, Maid

SEC Nigeria shuts down four zonal offices as cash crunch bits harder

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uguri and Onitsha zonal offices, sighting the need for allocation of both human and material resources to strengthen the remaining three in Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt.

The restructuring also entails a review of the organisational structure as well as a voluntary retirement scheme to trim down the previously top-heavy ranking structure.

Initially, the zonal offices were ostensibly created to bring SEC operations closer to the investing public, in terms of complaints resolution and investor education.

The apex regulator of Nigeria’s capital market said it could accomplish these objectives more efficiently by leveraging technology and shifting resources to the use of both print and electronic media for public enlightenment.

Securities-Exchange

A source close to the development at SEC told BusinessDay that the restructuring would not lead to job losses at SEC’s zonal offices, explaining that they would be redeployed to the head office.

Meanwhile, our source raised concerns that a zonal office like Onitsha was meant to bring the market close to SMEs and “meaningfully engage them for capital raising. We should have this outward spreading in a manner that could take consideration for market development.”

SEC however said its new complaints management framework will delegate first stages of complaints management to the operators and trade groups, adding that less complaints will be handled by the SEC, further reducing the need for multiple zonal offices.

“With the three zonal offices to be maintained, SEC will still enjoy a balanced geopolitical spread, as the Lagos zonal office covers the entire southwest geopolitical zone, the Port Harcourt office will service the south-south and southeast zone, while the office in Kano will cater to investors across the northern region.

“In essence, by closing the  four zonal offices and strengthening the remaining three, SEC can do more at a lower cost, this will free up resources to be allocated to critical areas of the Commission’s mandate, such as investor protection and investor education,” the commission stated.

SEC intends to strengthen functions such as monitoring, investigation and registration at the Lagos zonal office which will enable operators to reduce their overhead cost.

The Commission had been operating at an unsustainably top-heavy structure with a lot more senior level staff and junior level ones. For example, as at January 2015, there were over 30 deputy directors, more than 40 assistant directors and upward of 80 senior managers. This issue had direct effect on staff morale, as well as motivation because it inhibited career progression.

To address this situation, the SEC Board approved a voluntary retirement scheme proposed by the Executive Management to incentivise top-level staff above the age of 45 who had served the Commission for more than 10 years and are nearing their retirement, to voluntarily retire.

Through this exercise, at the end of July 2015, 43 very senior staff exited the Commission, some of whom had served for more than 20 years and had stagnated for up to 11 years on the same position due to the non-availability of vacancies. They were therefore delighted to take the offer that allows them retire to focus on other endeavors they care about.

Iheanyi Nwachukwu