ONIHA: NEW ERA BEGINS AT DMO

The economy of Nigeria is set to be exposed to a fresh chapter of growth and development that will be as challenging as it will be rewarding with the appointment of Ms. Patience Oniha as the new Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), the agency of government put in place to oversee and manage public debt.

Ms. Oniha began her career at Icon Limited Merchant Bankers in 1986, during which time she rose to the position of a Manager, before joining First Securities Discount House Limited (now FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd.) as a pioneer staff in 1992. She rose to the position of General Manager/Director before joining Ecobank Nigeria Limited in 2000. Between 2004 – 2008, Ms. Oniha was in Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Ltd. as a General Manager.

After a fulfilling career in the banking sector spanning over 22 years, she left after acquiring skills in Credit, Marketing, Treasury and Investment Banking.  Ms. Oniha made a career move to the public sectors when she joined the DMO in 2008 as Director, Market Development Department. In this capacity, Ms. Oniha brought her banking experience to bear on various aspects of the DMO’s activities.

Amongst her achievements during her 8 years at the DMO was the introduction of Benchmark Bonds to develop the domestic bond market in order to improve liquidity and to create a sovereign yield curve which created opportunities for State Governments, Multilaterals and corporates to raise long term funds. The purpose behind this drive was to create a debt capital market where the public and private sectors can access long term funds to finance Nigeria’s growth and development. For sustainable development of the debt capital market, she actively engaged with local and foreign investors, regulators and other stakeholders to develop a large and diversified investor base for FGN Securities and Bonds issued by other borrowers.

Oniha recorded quite a number of “firsts” during her time in DMO as she managed the successful issuance of Nigeria’s debut USD500 million Eurobond in January 2011. The debut Eurobond opened a new source of funding for the Federal Government and Corporates. Thus, it was not a surprise when in 2013, she also managed the issuance of the dual-tranche USD1 billion Eurobond which was subscribed to the tune of about 400%. A number of Nigerian banks also tapped into this funding window by issuing Eurobonds. She was also responsible for the inclusion of FGN Bonds in the J.P. Morgan Government Bond Index – Emerging Markets (GBI – EM) in October 2012 which made Nigeria the second country in Africa, after South Africa to have its local currency sovereign bond included in the Index. The inclusion of FGN bonds in this Index attracted foreign investors to the domestic bond market as a whole. This was followed by the inclusion of FGN Bonds in the Barclays Capital Emerging Markets – Local Currency Government Bond Index (EM – LCBI) in March 2013.

While still at the DMO, Ms. Oniha was appointed as pioneer Head of the Efficiency Unit at the Federal Ministry of Finance. To execute the mandate of the Unit which was to moderate government’s Overhead Expenditure and generate savings from the procurement process, Ms. Oniha leveraged on her experience and global best practice to introduce a number of initiatives. Amongst them were the issuance of 7 Circulars to control expenditure on specific Overhead items and the negotiation of discounts with airlines. These delivered savings estimated at N17 billion to the Government. She was working on the introduction of new processes for payment and procurements when she was appointed Director-General of DMO with effect from July 1, 2017.

This lady of distinction bagged a B.Sc. Economics, First Class Honours from the University of Benin in 1983 and went on to earn an M.Sc. Finance from the University of Lagos in 1985. She widened her scope and horizon by becoming a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria in 1990 and a Fellow in 2008. Ms. Oniha is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.

In recognition of her antecedents and as a resourceful and result oriented person, the news of her appointment was welcomed by Stakeholders with statements such as: Since your student days, it was clear to those of us who knew you that you were destined to excel in Scholarship, Career, Profession and be a great woman of distinction; Congratulations on this well-deserved appointment and for flying the flag for us women; This is a most well deserved promotion. Well done; You truly distinguished yourself at the Efficiency Unit; The Country will benefit immensely from your tenure; I thank God for the excellent spirit and service you have been rendering; I definitely know you will serve the country better once more; Your appointment was indeed expected, having been part of the success story of the DMO. I must also commend you on your numerous achievements during your stay as the Head, Efficiency Unit of the Finance Ministry. The foundation you have built will serve as a template to be adopted by State, Local and other arms of government.

 

Oniha’s performance at the DMO between 2008 and 2015 are a testament to her hard work and dedication towards the betterment of Nigeria. Her emergence as Director-General, Debt Management Office, recognizes her professional knowledge, notable focus and bold, unassuming approach – qualities needed to provide critical leadership to a hugely important agency in a period where growth and development need to be achieved in spite of economic challenges facing the country.

Johnson wrote in from Channelkoos.com

ZIDORA GROUP KICK STARTS THE MAIDEN EDITION OF HER TALENT HUNT

Zidora Group kick starts the maiden edition of her talent hunt show. Get ready to display whatever talents you have, such as dancing, singing, acrobatics, magic, acting etc to win fabulous prizes beyond your imagination.

The auditions will hold live in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Owerri.
Successful applicants at the auditions will be invited to the Zidora Talent Hunt Academy in Lagos for the grand finale and all processes shall be live on satellite TV.

The application portal shall be open from the 23rd of June. It’s time to attain fame and fortune.
Zidora Talent Hunt… Road to Stardom!!! For further details please log on to http://zidoragroup.com/talenthunt

E-DIVIDEND AND THE CAPITAL MARKET

Abimbola Johnson

Nigeria’s Capital Market operations are changing, and nothing symbolises this better than the electronic dividend payment (e-dividend) initiated since last year. By end of June this year, the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, has said that issuing of dividend warrants would stop.

Before registration for e-dividend started, over N90 billion was said to be unclaimed dividends. This fund was either just lying there idle, or some smart people were taking advantage of it and using it for personal or corporate gains. But since the commencement, over N30 billion unclaimed dividend has been credited to investors’ bank accounts.

An elated Munir Gwarzo, Director General of SEC, told a press conference recently: “In this country, we have never had this kind of initiative that has reduced unclaimed dividends like we have today. Apart from the investor getting his dividends where ever he is, that investor will be able to get dividends that in the last five years he has not been able to get.”

E-dividend is an electronic means of posting shareholders dividend directly into his or her bank account. So it doesn’t matter where an investor is located, his dividend goes straight into his bank account. At this year’s first post Capital Market Committee (CMC) news conference in Lagos, Gwarzo disclosed that a total of 2.2 million investors have registered for the e-dividend payment platform as at the end of April. That represents about 48 per cent of investors in the market.

The electronic registration is expected to help investors receive from the banks unclaimed dividends from their investments in stock and equities in the capital market valued at over N90 billion. Companies listed on the stock exchange have been encouraged to help in sensitizing their shareholders on the need to embrace the new dividend platform within the deadline.
The introduction of the e-dividend is designed, according to SEC, to curb the growth of unclaimed dividend in the capital market and allow investors collect dividends electronically. It also allows all accrued dividends to be credited to investors’ Bank Accounts.
The e-dividend has the potential to further deepen the capital market and ensure security of returns on investments. It has the added benefits of ensuring that you never lose your dividends and that they get paid to you on time. The e-dividend form could be obtained and properly filled at bank branches or in the office of a registrar and stock broking firms, or could be downloaded and filled by individuals
But as desirable as it is, beneficiaries of the old order are determined to frustrate it, or at worst delay the stoppage of dividend warrants to investors. While there has been a rush by investors to migrate to the new dividend platform, some banks are working against it success. These are banks, according to some officials of SEC and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, bent of frustrating the capital market regulator’s effort to ensure that the issue of unclaimed dividends was finally resolved and the monies paid to their rightful owners.

The unscrupulous activities of some of these banks are the reason why SEC announced the extension of the free registration period to June. Registration was initially expected to close by end of March. Registration is free but some of the banks are said to be charging money for the registration so as to discourage customers seeking to migrate to the platform. But it is gratifying to learn that the CBN had intervened in the matter, and had promised to sanction any erring bank.

One other development that is set to change the capital market is the proposed launch of a N5 billion Nigerian Capital Market Development Fund (NCDMF) in the next few weeks. The fund is meant to promote infrastructural development of the capital market and help to curb some of the sharp practices perpetrated by market operators.

SEC has said it would provide the N5 billion seed fund to demonstrate its commitment to the special fund. The NCMDF was conceived as a trust fund to enhance the development of the market and support efforts to achieve market stability.

The NCMDF will also take custody of statute-barred and unclaimed dividends of 12 years and above so that the “free funds” could be put to the collective use of the market to enhance future returns to investors. The fund is expected to be by a board and an independent fund manager without interference from SEC. A proposal to this effect has been sent to all capital market stakeholders for consideration before a final decision is made.

Under the laws, unclaimed dividends will remain available for collection by beneficiaries up till 12 years when they become statute-barred and are returned to the companies that paid them. But the new rule seeks to change the return of the unclaimed dividends to companies that issued the dividends.
SEC is now proposing a change to the rule. Companies and registrars in custody of dividends which remain unclaimed by shareholders 12 years after the date of declaration or subsequently attain the 12 years threshold shall upon the coming into effect of this rule transfer such monies into the Nigerian Capital Market Development Fund (NCMDF).

“All companies and registrars shall not later than 30 days after the end of every calendar year forward to the Commission a report of unclaimed dividends in their custody, which shall specify compliance with Sub Rule (1) of this Rule. Companies shall disclose details of compliance with this Rule in their annual reports,” SEC stated.

Expectedly major retail shareholders’ groups have risen against the plan and described it as a ploy to divert private funds into the control of the regulator. Some of them want the 12-year limit removed to enable shareholders and their beneficiaries collect their dividends at any time.

But it is obvious that those against the proposed rule are among beneficiaries of the old order who engage in sharp practices with unclaimed dividends. For this category of stakeholders, the proposed fund is bad business. Patriotic stakeholders see the proposed rule as healthy and necessary to protect and deepen the Nigerian Capital Market.

Johnson wrote in from The Whistler Newspapers; www.thewhistler.ng