By Peter Egwuatu & Nkiruka Nnorom
THE Joint Shareholders Association of Nigeria (JSAN) has moved for tenure system for audit committee members of public companies to be incorporated in the proposed review of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, CAMA 1990.
They further urged the National Assembly to ensure that the rights of retail shareholders are protected in line with international best practice in the process of amending the CAMA.
The shareholders, who spoke to Vanguard after a workshop on the proposed amendment of CAMA and its effect on retail shareholders vowed to resist plans by the regulatory authority to impose any law on them.
Erudite lecturers and financial experts also cautioned the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, over provisions of some sections of the proposed review of CAMA, saying that they pose dangers to the continued existence of shareholders’ associations.
In his presentation at the meeting, Sola Ephraim-Oluwanuga, a shareholder activist and Head, Chambers at O.S Ephraim Oluwanuga & Co, said the amendment should result to stronger associations rather than stifling them.
“Shareholders associations have come to stay,” he said, adding, “it has its challenges, but these challenges will not lead to the death of the associations. The proposed amendment should not kill the associations, but give life to them.”
Speaking at the meeting, Alhaji Gbadebo Olatokumbo, stressed the need to train the members of the audit committee to enable them acquire knowledge that would sustain their oversight function.
According to him “The audit committee members should be empowered. They should be trained to acquire more knowledge so that they would improve on their oversight function.”
Mr. Sotunde Sopeju, explained that the issue of tenure ship should be clearly spelled out in the formation of audit committee. He added that a shareholder should not be allowed to be a member of an audit committee in more than one firm.
“Nobody should be in audit committee for more than three years. Some people have been in a particular company for more than 25 years. No one should be in more than one company.”
The Past president of Institute of Directors Nigeria (IOD) and immediate past Chairman of Lafarge Cement, Olusegun Osunkeye, urged the shareholders to collaborate with the management of the various companies towards ensuring that they create sustainable wealth through profitability.
Osunkeye, who was the chairman of the occasion, said: “The retail shareholders want to look at the proposed amendment with regard to protection of shareholders rights particularly the retail shareholders, which are of concern to them.
Bolodeoku also pointed out that there are many areas left unattended to which may eventually undermine the intended value the proposal is designed to add.
speaking on the theme “The New Regime of High Fines and Penalties: An Avenue to Deprive Shareholders of Dividend”, recommended the adoption of corporate governance code by public companies to reduce breach of company laws , regulations and guidelines.