The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Friday held a conciliatory meeting with staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in an attempt to placate them to accept the return to office of Arunma Oteh, the embattled Director General of the apex capital market regulatory agency.
Ms Oteh, who was reinstated to office on Tuesday by the Federal Government in controversial circumstances after her suspension by the Board of the Commission a month ago, has not been able to resume duties following stout resistance and opposition by workers.
The workers, through their union, the Amalgamated Union of Corporate Organisations, on Wednesday demonstrated for over an hour outside the SEC premises against Ms Oteh’s reinstatement.
It took the intervention of the acting DG, Ibrahim Bello, and security operatives to restore normalcy to the agency.
The workers said they were not particularly against the government’s decision to reinstate the DG, they however insisted that issues raised against her in the report of the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Market Probe should first be exhaustively addressed.
The staff said they would welcome Ms Oteh back once the House committee clears her of the allegations against her.
But the House complicated matters for her Thursday by calling for her removal from office and prosecution for “incompetence in the management of human and material resources at her disposal; lack of transparency in managing ‘Project 50’; regulatory failure in some of the recent mergers, acquisitions and approvals of transactions; general inability to carry along her staff, board, and management in decision making; and questionable staff recruitment policies.”
Earlier, the Federal Government, in reinstating Ms Oteh, had exonerated her of all allegations of misconduct and fraud, though it cautioned her for administrative lapses in the running of the commission.
But determined to douse the tension that has since trailed the controversial decision to recall the DG, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, embarked on a diplomatic shuttle by visiting the SEC earlier today in an effort to attempt to pacify the workers and make them see reason to let peace reign and allow Ms Oteh to return.
It was gathered that the minister, who was received by the acting DG on arrival, had told the staff during the meeting, which lasted less than an hour, that government was not in the mood to rescind its decision, adding that her meeting with them was to plead with them to accept Ms. Oteh’s immediate return.
The workers had, through their spokesman, reiterated their position and concern for due process to be respected by all parties in handling the matter to avoid undue industrial disharmony.
They also asked the minister to assure the workers that those who demonstrated against Ms Oteh’s return would not be victimized.