Stakeholders proffer solutions to over N100bn unclaimed dividend

Nigeria Stock Exchange, Lagos

The fact that the portfolio of unclaimed dividend estimated to be above N100 billion presently is a clear indication that it is a hydra-headed monster that requires expedient innovations, stakeholders have said.

They argued that the problem of unclaimed dividend is a perennial issue that cannot but remain in the front burner of national discourse.

Besides, this is even as stakeholders, including corporations, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), and Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), have devised numerous ways and means to solve the problem over the years.

This issue was again brought to the fore during the 2019 Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN) Company Secretaries and Registrars’ Forum, held in Lagos.

The forum brings together professionals in inter-related fields of corporate secretarial practice, corporate governance and registrar service delivery among others.

The President of ICSAN, Samuel Kolawole, represented by the institute’s Vice President, Bode Ayeku, said the theme of the forum, “Management of Register of Members and Unclaimed Dividends: Deliverables, Challenges and Way Out,” was very apt, as it focuses on two major enduring issues in secretarial and registrar’s function.

He maintained that it is trite that members register is such an important statutory document that must be handled efficiently.
According to him, failure to keep accurate and reliable members register will not only lead to confusion and members/shareholders disaffection, but also to punitive payment of fine.

Proffering solutions on how to ease the burden of effective maintenance of members register, especially in relation to proper and timeous updating of members’ record, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, First Registrars & Investor Services Limited, Bayo Olugbemi, recommended that registrars should continue to put more effort to ensuring that the register of members of publicly quoted companies are regularly and appropriately updated from time to time.

Olugbemi, a guest speaker at the forum, also recommended that companies should continue to publish the amount of unclaimed dividends in annual reports, while the ones which were returned to companies should be properly monitored by SEC to avoid diversion.

He hinged the major challenges with managing the register of members to incidence of multiple accounts, identity theft, lack of professionals, and fictitious accounts among others.

He advised that SEC’s current initiatives should be vigorously implemented, and the massive public enlightenment programme going on should be continued.

Chairman of the occasion, Chief Executive Officer, NSE, Oscar Onyema, who was represented by Head, Council Secretariat, Mojisola Adeola, noted that it was not yet uhuru for the Exchange on the issue of unclaimed dividend, and are working hard to solve the problem to restore investors’ confidence.

He said those majorly affected are the retail investors, who are at the receiving end, adding that there is the need to focus on retail investors to get the capital market right, and the need for solution on identity management for settling unclaimed dividends.

Earlier, the Acting Registrar, ICSAN, Oladunni Ogunsulire, noted that the forum underscores the institute’s preoccupation with engagement of contemporary issues with a view to providing positive, pragmatic outlook for national growth and development.

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