Golden Handshake: How SEC board approved N1.7 billion for staff retirement package

Director-General-of-Securities-and-Exchange-Commission-Mr-Mounir-Gwarzo
Sacked Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Mounir Gwarzo, [Photo credit: Pulse.ng]

The controversial staff retirement package for senior staff of the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, was conceived and implemented with approval of the commission’s board, documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES show.

The special package, tagged “Golden Handshake” that gulped N1.7 billion was listed by a probe panel among the sins of the suspended director general of SEC, Mounir Gwarzo.

The retirement package, according SEC documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES, was meant to incentivise retirement by top management staff, to reduce the burden of heavy senior cadre on the commission.

With the new policy, two directors, 13 deputy directors, one general manager, five assistant directors, five senior managers, one principal senior supervisor, 13 managers, two senior supervisors and two supervisors agreed the voluntary retirement.

The money spent on the scheme amounts to N1.7 billion.

The investigative panel constituted by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, to probe Mr Gwarzo’s tenure, following his suspension, said the money was spent without budgetary or ministerial approval.

The panel recommended dismissal of Mr. Gwarzo over series of alleged infractions, including using front companies, and payment of hefty retirement package to himself. However, internal documents from SEC show that the retirement package and its financing plan was approved by the commission’s board at its sitting on March 12, 2015.

An internal memo containing extract of the minutes from the meeting written by the acting secretary of the commission, Eno Otunba-Payne, with the director general’s concurrence, provides details about the scheme.

The board, relying on its powers under Section 4(d) of the Investments and Securities Act 2007, approved virement of some line items in the commission’s 2015 budget to fund the scheme.

The relevant section of the Act empowers the board to “consider and approve the annual budget of the Commission as may be presented to it by the management.”

A bulk of the fund was then sourced from the commission’s provision for foreign training.

A source said part of the reasons of floating the golden handshake scheme was to utilise the funds that amounts to N754 million earmarked for foreign training, at a time the federal government had placed cap on such trainings.

The memo for the retirement package therefore vired 80 per cent of the foreign training provision, amounting to N603 million for the new scheme.

Additionally, the board approved virement of N350.95 million from capital market development subhead, N160.17 million from “maintenance – equipment”, N249.28 million from “monetized vehicle grant” and N3.14 million from “generator grant”.

Other subheads that had monies cut from them include N7.73 million from “Recreation”, N89 million from “Maintenance – premises”, N52.8 from “Network and Communication”, N48.3 million from “Seminars and Conferences” and N33.6 million from “Insurance” subhead.

Additionally, the commission vired N32.4 million from “Rent and Rates – offices”, N153.75 from “Local travel”, N150 million from “Foreign travel” and N26 million from “Advertisement and Publicity”.

The total vired sum amounted to N1.96 billion.

The ministerial report said Mr. Gwarzo flouted the rules by spending N1.7 billion in the Golden Handshake scheme without getting approval for the expenditure.

However, in his defence, Mr. Gwarzo has told PREMIUM TIMES that the he acted within the extant laws, arguing that the management under him acted in the best interest of the commission.

“When I came into office I realized that the top management was very heavy and we needed to bring incentives for people to take and retire, to create room for fresh energy. Because government had stopped foreign training, we had to use the sub-head for foreign training and vire the funds there to pay the Golden Handshake, which was approved by the Board.”

The finance minister, however, told a House of Representatives hearing on the scandal that she would recommend Mr. Gwarzo’s sack to President Muhammadu Buhari.


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  • Olusola

    Kemi baby! Fulani does not sack fellow Fulani, dont even try! – One nation?

    • Abdullah Musa

      You are very right!
      Yoruba will never subject a Yoruba outfit to forensic audit, even though other Nigerians have their monies inside.

      • Olusola

        Why not? Meanwhile Musa, the audit is still ongoing as the AG. DG vowed not to stop it! We are in support of audit, Yoruba did not send anyone to go and steal in our name. When Ribadu submitted a report indicting Tafa Balogun (IG of Police at the time) OBJ summoned him and sacked him immediately. It was Mukhar his Chief of staff that extracted the resignation letter from him. The trouble with Nigeria is mentality: and unless we all purge ourselves and compete fairly among ourselves shelving religion and ethnicity, we cannot move ahead. It is what is wrong with PMB – nepotism. No one says dont appoint Fulani but dont over appoint Fulani. If economy is doing well private sector will perform better for all ethnic groups and we can banish hunger and poverty.

        • Abdullah Musa

          You made a blanket condemnation of Fulani.
          Left to me alone, Buhari over-appointed Yorubas.
          Do the analysis and feed us back.

          • Titus

            Ol boy, na you biko. Abeg wetin Baba dey do too, im own na im person i.e. namu namu!!!

          • Abdullah Musa

            Dis kind pidgin pass my head.

          • Titus

            Shooo, You no school for here? Dis na our own lingua franca, the original. If you no know, please come learn for my papa school. Lol!!!

          • Abdullah Musa

            D skul wey I commot from na Queen english dem tish us.
            Abi you no sabi Yoruba English?
            U no be frofer nigerian.
            Frofer? Dia u go again, u no sabi Ausa english?
            May be na run u run from english Cameroon, u no be nigerian.

          • Olusola

            We did before and that was when this allegation of Nepotism became strong. We were blindly following Buhari until Shehu and Adesina released a comprehensive list of appointees and it was shameful. I am not complaining about Yoruba appointment, our representation is adequate, but that is not true of other segments of the country. Also certain positions had wrong people in them, just because certain persons must occupy them. if only we evolve an egalitarian society, we will be the better for it. I envisage a country where we can all be equal before God!

  • UNEMPLOYED Nigerian

    Mr Buhari aka Bokohari, Nigerians are tired of you. Go away old Cargo. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. You and Mr Oshihmhole (aka “Go and Die”), Obasanjo, Tinubu, Atiku, useless Oyegun and all other useless OLD Cargoes in Nigerian politics all of you should obey the command of Mr Oshiohole – ‘Go and Die’ so that younger Nigerians can lead and we can have a future. All of you have failed. Your brains are old and too corrupt. Can any of you tell me who among you does not have a house in Londo or US or elsewhere in Europe?…and Nigeria’s minimum wage is N18. I take sides with Mr Ogedegbe to declare – “God punish all of you”!

    • tony

      And which young Nigerian do you have in mind?

      • Insider

        Tony Elumelu of Elumelu foundation. Sharp, smart, intelligent, daring, enterprising, energetic, honesty, tested and trusted young man. He is everything good that senile Buhari isn’t.

  • Justice and Fairness

    Ingenious Gwarzo, he simply virred funds budgeted for Office running, development and staff training into his pocket and went ahead to collect his gratuity, benefits and pension ahead of retirement.

    • Abdullah Musa

      You deserve Nobel prize in your chosen field: purposeful ignorance!
      The news media told you it was used for retirement benefits of staff, but you chose to see it as theft.

      • Justice and Fairness

        Where did the retirement benefit end? No be pocket? Sorry, Bank account. Are you ok now?

        • Abdullah Musa

          Forget about me, just be comfortable with your position: that you accused soneone of theft because he paid retiring staff their benefits.

          • Justice and Fairness

            Please add: Including paying himself retirement benefits through virement up front. In a country where most retirees are not paid even years after retirement

          • Abdullah Musa

            I have added.
            Hope you get invited to Kemi’s victory party.
            Oando shares may be dished out as ‘takeaways’!

    • Pawa2

      Corrupt Gwarzo more like.

  • Abdullah Musa

    Nigeria they hail thee!
    Gwarzo deserves dismissal for daring to subject Oando to forensic audit.

    • Hassan Lawal

      ..stop misleading people..read deeper to see series of allegations against him..i have many friends in SEC and they confirmed his thirst for arrogance and bogus approvals..i would have agreed with you more, had these allegations against him not surfaced…he must have been wrongly advised, hence he was gullible

      • Abdullah Musa

        There is no need to mislead anyone
        If a panel includes amongst its allegations something which was found to be untrue, then there was ulterior motive.
        You are submitting yourself to be misled.
        Something fishy took place in Oando, some people petitioned SEC.
        Gwarzo wanted to conduct forensic audit, but Oando’s kinswoman is Minister of finance.
        So they invited her to stop Gwarzo and she did.
        If Gwarzo did wrong he should be punished.
        But to allow Oando to write its own forensic report is injustice.

  • DELTAN

    …and in all of this it is the Niger Delta people who are LOOOOOOOSERS. How many people from the Niger Delta were staff at the Ministry and benefited from this payment of billions? Most likely none. And the monies paid were 100% sourced from the wealth of the Niger Delta people. This is why the AVENGERS must act as quickly as possible. We demand our own country and 100% control of all our resources. We reject Nigeria ans we reject restructuring. Avengers please!

    • Tt

      Right.

  • Folahan

    I believe that the SEC DG should do the right thing by resigning, not because of what the panel claims but due to the fact that he claims that N1.7bn was paid to get people to leave voluntarily due to the financial pressure the Agency was facing. What this report does not say is that He as received over a N100 million from the same Golden Handshake initiative. Why should you get paid to go voluntarily and then refuse to go. Even a Civil Servants dont get half of that after working 35yrs.

    • Hassan Lawal

      …yeah, nice thoughts!

  • Pawa2

    If I am correct, each recipient obtained an average of nearly N40M (which was about $240,000) at the time. Knowing that the payment would have been graded, with the Directors and senior managers earning more than the supervisors, it is possible that Gwarzo and the other top directors would have earned probably up to N70M to N80M ($420,000 to $480,000). The directors would probably have been on an annual salary of less than N10M. So, how can the reward/severance they were getting make sense, in a country where the minimum wage was N192,000 per year? It only made sense because many of the people who approved it (including the chairman of the board, i.e Gwarzo) were beneficiaries of the award. That is corruption in any book and I don’t know why Premium Times cannot recognise that (probably been paid or just plain naive and imperceptive).
    To show that the people carrying out these acts were not even bright, they called it “Golden Handshake” when it was in fact a “Parachute”. A handshake is what you give to people coming in, not those going out.

  • Afo

    This Gwarzo is very corrupt as he sat down to unilaterally approve bogus payments for himself and his cohorts in the name of golden handshake. Who are members of the Board and who gave them approval powers to vire money from one subhead to another. Such power rests with the NASS and I am just wondering if those committee members raised this despite the uproar they are known for when ministries present virement approval to them. Gwarzo must go as decided by the supervising ministry. Not business as usual and must be prosecuted and all the illegal fund he paid to himself recovered. God bless Nigeria.

  • _ Oil POLLUTION in Niger DELTA

    _ Oil POLLUTION in Niger DELTA

    Oil spills and pollution is killing the Niger Delta people. It is a pure case of environmental terrorism carried out by the Nigerian state with her European and American collaborators.

    Despite the billions of Dollars sold from oil the Niger Delta remains without federal presence. Not a single airport in the whole of Niger Delta has been built by Nigerian government at the center. Maritime University has been technically and deliberately forgotten. This systemic policy to make Niger Delta perpetually underdeveloped why monies from the region is used to provide infrastructure elsewhere in Abuja, Lagos etc must be resisted. Its got to stop.

    Secession from Nigeria is the only sure way to achieving absolute RESOURCE control or we stop the flow of oil money. Nigeria is irredeemable.

    We demand our sovereign state of Niger DELTA

  • Steve

    Very typical of nigerian leaders and heads or parastals, empty the treasury before leaving office.

  • Okokondem

    For your information:

    The newly elected president of Liberia, George Weah, earns an annual salary of $100,000. Recently, he offered to take a 25% pay cut to reflect the country’s dire economic conditions. Juxtapose that with the bloated salaries and unjustifiable, obscene allowances members of your national assembly earn. Let’s have a debate about that instead of these daily inconsequential distractions.