Though Otehs’ recall breaches due process, SEC management should co-opearte with her for the benefit of all
Whatever the justifications by the federal government to recall the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Arunma Oteh from her suspension, the manner in which it was done raises a number of procedural questions. That the recall which was effected through a letter signed by the Secretary to Government of the Federation did not only negate established rule, it unduly politicised the entire exercise. Ordinarily, such a letter ought to have been signed by the Minister of Finance who supervises the SEC. Again, in recalling Oteh, the government glossed over the issues that led to her problems in the first place: the House probe of the activities of the nation’s capital market, and her suspension by the SEC board.
It is therefore our contention that the face-off between Oteh and the former Chairman of the former House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market, Mr. Herman Hembe, should not reduce the importance and relevance of the subsequent Committee work and its report. It is particularly unfortunate that the government did not also deem it necessary to establish the veracity of the internal administrative charges upon which Oteh was suspended before recalling her. Instead, the SGF’s letter merely urged Oteh to “henceforth endeavour to diligently observe all extant rules and administrative procedures in the conduct of all official transactions.”
While we do not in any way oppose the recall of Oteh to her position, provided she has been cleared of the charges against her, we must highlight the fact of impunity and insensitivity to public mood about the handling. For instance, while Oteh was on suspension, she was twice allowed to attend meetings of the Economic Management Team, when her membership of the body was predicated on her position as DG of SEC. That was wrong.
As we stated in a recent editorial, what is clear from the crisis is an arrogance of power displayed by Oteh which became evident even from the sessions of the House public hearing into the activities of SEC. Many of the people who watched the sordid drama on live television felt embarrassed that the Director General made presentation and representations that were completely at variance with those of the Principal Officers of the Commission. Even within the ranks, there were further discordant notes pertaining to specific details concerning propriety, processes andprocedures in the running of SEC under Oteh. The air of division and confusion was palpable as officials presented the Director General as no more than a lone ranger.
With her qualifications and wealth of experience in the corporate world, Oteh assumed her job with so much expectations that she would turn the fortunes of SEC around. But as it is now very clear, cerebral competence cannot make up for such lapses as arrogance and impudence, especially in the workplace. It was therefore no surprise that her recall was greeted by protest by a section of the staff at SEC.
However, now that she is firmly back on her seat, we would call on Oteh to show more respect in dealing with colleagues. She should not regard the SEC as her private estate and the rest of the workforce as mere serfs ministering to her personal needs. She should run an all-inclusive administration, taking on board her colleagues in a renewed bid to revive the capital market and win back stakeholders confidence.
It will be counter-productive on her part to engage in any form of vendetta. Similarly, we appeal to all the staff and management of SEC who initially opposed Oteh’s return to sheath their swords and give peace a chance.