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Mixed Reactions Trail Move To Regulate Conduct Of AGMs

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Stock market operators last Monday, expressed mixed reactions to plans by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to regulate conduct of Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and pre-AGMs.
The operators spoke with  The Tide source n Lagos.
The new sub-rule seeks to reduce the cost of organising shareholder meetings, by eliminating  distribution of gifts to shareholders, observers and any other persons at annual and extraordinary general meetings.
The Publicity Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr Moses Igbrude, said that the reasons given by SEC for the rule were not strong.
Igbrude said that money spent on corporate gifts to shareholders could not be compared with amount spent on corporate social responsibilities, penalties and taxes, among others, by quoted companies.
He said that none of the shareholder groups had compelled any company to give corporate gifts or to hold pre-AGM meetings.
According to him, food and water given to shareholders at meetings cannot be quantified as corporate gifts.
“Yes, there are issues in crowd management and distribution of gifts or food to shareholders at AGMs, that doesn’t mean SEC has to criminalise giving of gifts or pre-AGMs.
“SEC should find better ways of addressing the issues rather than to punish  shareholders and their companies,” he said.
The National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr Boniface Okezie, said that the commission should not regulate conduct of meetings but could assist the companies where things could get out of hands.
Okezie said that the law permitted that the commission should attend AGMS as observers on invitation by quoted companies.
He said that SEC could not stop companies from conducting pre-AGMs organised for shareholders by the owners of the business so long they did not compromise.
Okezie said that the fora afforded shareholders opportunities to evaluate companies’ performances and activities in the past year.
On the ban on AGM gifts, the shareholder activist said that sharing of gifts at AGMs had created a lot of problems to many companies.
Okezie noted that some shareholders  failed to conduct themselves in an orderly manner.
He, however, said that there was no need for fining companies for sharing gifts at AGMS, urging that SEC should be more concerned with critical issues in the market such unclaimed dividends and inability of companies to post annual reports to shareholders within 21 days.
“It does not call for fine of any sorts; unclaimed dividends are still there for the regulatory body to tackle as well as posting of annual reports to shareholders within 21 days, which many companies have failed to comply with,” Okezie said.
He said that sharing of companies’ products at separate meetings with shareholders should not be discouraged as long as there would be decorum.
The Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd., Mr Ambrose Omordion, however, described the SEC move as  good, saying that it would help companies to conserve funds to boost their operations.
“Entertainment at the meetings is good, but should not go as far as buying corporate gifts or giving cash to few shareholders to influence their comments at AGMs, leading to praise-singing even where the company dividend payout is low compared to share price,” Omordion said.
He said that some shareholders failed to set agenda to directors and management of their companies due to unnecessary gifts.
“Many companies have continued to post losses and investors are deprived of dividends,” Omordion stated.
He said that SEC should educate shareholders to know their rights and how to defend them to protect their investments.
NAN reports that SEC proposed a N10 million fine against any company which will flout the rule.

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FG To Recover N614bn Debt From 35 States

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, says the Federal Government has resolved to recover N614 billion loan facility from 35 states of the federation.
The minister disclosed this when she briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, at the State House, Abuja, yesterday.
Ahmed said each of the affected 35 states received N17.5billion as bail out from the Federal Government.
She said that already the Council had agreed to constitute a team to finalise modalities for commencement of repayment of the loan facility.
The team, according to her, would be constituted from the Nigerian Governors Forum to meet with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Ministry of Finance.
The Minister of Finance said that she briefed NEC on the progress of the loan facility, detailing how the Federal Government has made a total of over N614 billion available to 35 States being N17.5 billion each.
“Council agreed to constitute a team from the Nigerian Governors Forum to meet with the CBN and Ministry of Finance to finalise modalities for commencement of payment,’’ she said.
The minister further revealed that she updated the Council on the activities of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Excess Crude Account (ECA) and other special accounts of the federation.
She said the committee requested for extension of time to finalise and present its report during the next meeting of the Council.
On the $9billion dollars London Court judgement against Nigeria, the minister said the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had assured that Nigeria would appeal against the judgment.

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I’ll Lift Nigerians Out Of Poverty – Minister

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The new Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, has promised to lift Nigerians out of poverty by developing the nation’s endowed natural resources.
He made the promise on Wednesday in Abuja when he assumed office shortly after he and other 42 ministers were sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Tide reports that the minister was received by directors in the ministry and some heads of parastatals and agencies under the ministry.
“I intend to learn quickly from all of you. I have been following the progress of Dr Kayode Fayemi, the immediate past minister of this ministry who did a lot of work.
“I also intend to learn the robes quickly with the Minister of State, so that we can contribute our quota to the development of the country, especially with regards to lifting people out of poverty.
“Mr President has promised to lift 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years, at the end of tenure of this administration which is four years, we want to at least achieve 40 per cent of that,’’ he said.
Adegbite expressed optimism that the administration would achieve a lot at delivering the dividends of democracy.
The minister said he would stamp out corruption in the sector in line with the agenda of the Buhari administration.
“Corruption fight begins with all of us, if we can be disciplined in the little things we do in our privacy, it will be easier to fight corruption in the country.
“We will join efforts with the Federal Government in fighting corruption to ensure a corruption free society,’’ he said.
Speaking in the same vein, the Minister of State for the ministry, Dr Ikechukwu Ogor, said he would support the minister to achieve the vision for the sector.
Ogah solicited the support of members of staff of the ministry to achieve the vision.
“We will all work as a team to take this ministry to an enviable position,’’ he said.
The ministry‘s Permanent Secretary, Dr Abdulkadri Mu’azu, welcomed the ministers and gave them the break-down of the departments and operations.
He said the ministry was strategic to the country, especially with regards to diversification of the economy.
Muazu pledged the loyalty and dedication of the management and staff of the ministry to the ministers to enable them succeed the tasks ahead.
Some members of staff of the ministry expressed optimism that the ministers would bring to bear their experiences to take the ministry to greater heights.

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CTA To Assist Farmers Access Drought, Flood Tolerant Seeds

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The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), has revealed that it is working with partners in various countries to ensure that farmers have access to drought and flood-tolerant seeds.
This move became necessary following the rising effects of climate change which has a direct impact on agricultural activities.
The Senior Program Coordinator of CTA, Dr Oluyede Ajayi said agriculture is central to development in Africa, but unfortunately it is subjected to a lot of pressures of climate change, like drought, weather extremes that affect food production.
Dr Ajayi who spoke with newsmen in Abuja at the Regional Workshop on Climate Finance and Support Mechanism for a Resilient Agriculture Sector in West and Central Africa said the point they raised was how to improve investment to help farmers become resilient and promote food security in the face of extreme weather.
“One of the points that we raised is how we improve investment to help farmers become resilient and to promote food security in the face of extreme weather situations, to do that requires more than investment, unfortunately less than 10 per cent of fund that goes to the climate is spent on agriculture, we are expecting so much from agriculture, but the fund that goes into agriculture in terms of investment to address climate issues is very low.
“So, this meeting is being organised to brainstorm the practical ways to leverage funding and improve financing to support climate action in agriculture”, he said.
He further said that they were also working towards exposing farmers to climate technologies which would assist in increasing their yield even in unfriendly weather.

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