By WILLIAM JIMOH & HANNAH ISIBOR
JOSEPH OKPOYE: I want to tell you that contrary to the requirement of the Nigerian Companies and Allied Matter Act, CAMA, that financial reports of companies should be delivered to the shareholders before the day of the Annual General Meeting, most registrars and companies wait until the day of the meeting before giving the report, leaving the shareholders no room to study the report.
For instance, that I am here today is not because I got the notification of this meeting, or that I was contacted in anyway by the company to notify me of the AGM. I got the information on their website and it was when I got to this place that I was given the reports, which contain the notification of the meeting. This is very wrong, but that is what most companies do today.
Let me tell you, majority of the shareholders are not reading the newspapers; not all of us have access to using the internet, therefore not all of us can visit their website and get needed information, most especially when it has to do with knowing when the AGM is coming up. And that is why the companies must ensure that the reports get to the shareholders before the day of their annual general meetings because naturally, when the report is given to the registrars, they are supposed to deliver them to the shareholders’ residences before the date of the annual general meeting. But like I said earlier, it is here that I got a copy.
And supposing I did not browse and get the information on the internet, how would I have found out when the AGM is taking place? The implication is that I wouldn’t have been here and that is the fact. And if I did not come, I may not have been able to contribute to the discussions in this meeting. JOSEPH OKPOYE is a minority shareholder.
OLUGBOSUN ARIYO: There is this issue that the shareholders have always complained about and that it has to do with delay in delivering of annual reports. Most times, we only get the financial reports at the venue of the AGM, though not all the companies do that, but I can tell you that it is applicable to majority of the companies.
And at the end of the day, we find it very difficult if not impossible to contribute because going through the annual report of a company is not something you can do when you are in a hurry or under pressure.
They need to work on this issue and that’s if it is not a plan by the companies to rob investors their right to contribute during the meetings.
I think the delay is probably from the registrars and the kind of postal service they are using. I also think the post masters need to improve their quality of service delivery. If the government postal service is not suitable for the result needed, they should seek the service of their private counterparts.
I will not want to put the blame entirely on the registrars and the type of postal services they use because these companies also normally delay in sending their reports to their registrars and some times I think there used to be communication gap between the companies and their registrars. If this must be corrected, the companies must have a time line and proper planning to ensure that the reports are made available to their registrars so that it can get to the shareholders before the day of the AGM.
Sometimes, we also experience this problem because of the scrutinising of the companies’ reports by the regulators. When a company sends its report to the regulator, they will scrutinise it time without number and at the end of the day, such action will result in delay.
This is not to say that the scrutinising by the regulator is not justifiable, but time must be put into cognizance to uphold the provision of the Companies and Allied Matter Act, CAMA, which maintains that the report should be deliver to the shareholders before the day of AGM.
The regulator can achieve this by giving deadline to the companies to submit their report, so that it will not result in hasty work for the registrar to collate and send to the various shareholders’ contact. Because the work is done under pressure, some shareholders will get, while others will not.
OLUGBOSUN ARIYO is the National Coordinator, Exceptional Shareholders Association of Nigeria.