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SEC charges business owners on corporate governance

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Nigeria has restated the need for business owners in the country to embrace corporate governance as a desirable option to grow enterprises, improve shareholders' funds and profitability on a sustainable basis.

The Commission's Acting Director-General, Ms. Mary Uduk, gave the advice during her comments as one of the panelists at the Alliance Law Firm's maiden Lecture Series, Luncheon and Book Presentation, with the theme Contemporary Corporate Governance Issues in Nigeria, in Lagos, at the weekend.

Uduk, who was represented at the event by a Director of the Commission, Edward Okolo, noted that experiences globally have demonstrated that enterprises that showed committal access to critical indices by which companies' compliance with the SEC Code could be measured remained difficult as many companies were either unwilling to comply or lack understanding of the importance of corporate governance to their entities' survival and profitability.

We observed that most of the issues covered in the SEC Code 2011 have remained difficult for some entities to observe in terms of fairness, independence, accountability and transparency requirements by their boards.

The Code of corporate governance talks about how companies are run and managed. Looking at the scorecard as a follow up to the code, we have been able to see areas of weaknesses and strength across companies and these areas are very germane to having strong corporate governance. They are supposed to have a little bit of financial experience so they could be able to interpret financial statements, the SEC Director-General said.

She also pointed out that all these make for a strong board and that if a company doesn't have that, it cannot have a strong board since experiences show that companies that have strong boards have better corporate governance system.

The SEC Director-General explained further that this also remains linked to the issue of independent directors, adding that if a company selects its independent directors based on the principles of transparency, it would have informed judgment or decision making that is transparent or the courage to make a difference will be there.

We believe there should be more disclosure. We believe that on the issues of conflict of interest and related party transactions should go to the shareholders to validate decisions taken by the boards in order to strengthen shareholders' rights in public companies, she added.

Source: Voice of Nigeria